Sunday, February 4, 2007

Community = Web 2.0

After reading a couple of great post's by Nic Brisbourne really got me thinking about organic viral marketing . His first post was about what makes community's succeed. It was a fascinating read especially w/ all of the news this week associated w/ Digg and Flickr and their decisions to ruffle the feathers of their initial users.

"Webforums like the Mobile Monday Yahoo Group are a good and simple example - people post news and questions to the group and over time rules have emerged governing what is allowed (anything to do with the mobile web) and what isn’t (blatant advertising). When the rules are broken people respond with lots of angry posts and if necessary the moderators wade in to sum up group opinion and explicitly say what should be allowed and what shouldn’t. Thus the group has a set of rules, is self policing and thrives because of it. If the self policing failed and the advert spam became to voluminous people would stop participating and the community would fall apart.

An interesting question then is how those rules evolve, and if you are building an online community what you can do to influence that evolution to maximise your chances of success."

By Nic Brisbourne

I am actually in the process of e-commerce/membership based startup that will be leveraging online car community's as evangelists. Our #1 concern was not to force our "service" down the members of these community's. So my first thought to gain some traction was to offer a $5k Shopping Spree for new members that sign up in Lottery. This seemed ok at the time..but I wasn't convinced that this would get us the kind of customers that we want to evangelize for us and to get a handle on our unique business model.... Well as luck would have it I was logged on to and saw a bunch of people crowed around a site called . This social commerce site sells 1 product a day...that's it and thousands of people flock to it.. to participate in online banter about the product of the day whether good or bad. The products are priced way below any thing on the net... so that may be a big attraction...but the community is really what drives it. You will typically find 300-400 comments on a given Woot Off!

So this really got me thinking about how we can engage our potential new members in an honest way that really depicts who we are: Bring a Woot style format everyday for individual automotive communities that we advertise in to help us get out our message. We are a site that solves the problem of all car enthusiasts: "Getting the best parts in one place for the best price"

Quote from Nic Brisbourne

"Pre-critical mass there is no natural network value, so your entire value proposition can only be about personal value. That worked fine for and Flickr because storing bookmarks and photos gives a lot of personal value - it doesn’t work for e.g. review sites, because until there is a critical mass of reviews there is not much value to the consumer."

I am banking that our startup will give that personal value to customer...

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