Building and running online communities for marketers is becoming big business. The Wall St. Journal has an interview with Peter Friedman, who has watched this business grow up. In 1996 he left Apple, where he'd been in charge of the customer support and started LiveWorld which manages communities for companies like Campbell's Soups, HBO, and TVGuide. LiveWorld recently partnered up with ad agency Ogilvy & Mather. Friedman believes that the community activities need to be an integrated part of a company's overall marketing strategy.
WSJ.com: Questions for … Peter Friedman, 2006-Jul-26, by Emily Steel
WSJ: Your service creates loyalty marketing communities, promising to integrate brands into customers' daily lives. How does this work generate a viral marketing buzz?
Mr. Friedman: We did a study with McKinsey that showed that people who participate in an online community, if it is done well, return to a site nine times as often and five times as long...that is a 45 times increase in loyalty.... So right there is a hard metric that shows if you do this community there is more happening. The second thing is that as you empower people within these communities ...they are talking. If they are talking about you online, then they are talking about you offline, so you create all of this word-of-mouth buzz. It is a word-of-mouth engine.