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The Effect Of Virutal Communities On The Bottom Line

Virtual communities, these communities that exist within the Internet Society, abound. Shareholder relationship management that does not take into account the discussions in a variety of on-line media is at a disadvantage. Political lobbying without some view of the issues in cyberspace is at a disadvantage. Issues management without research into the opinions being expressed in the Internet Society miss fast moving comment. Community relations without a view of communities, is not able to gauge the local views. The list is extensive. Most companies also need a view as to how their on-line marketing is affecting the business.

One way of finding out about the relationships between companies and relevant issues and virtual communities is through one of the many Internet monitoring services. These services will present any new comment on a daily basis which makes monitoring simple and alerts the company to virtual communities as they discuss relevant topics.

The key to the influence of on-line communities is whether they will affect your business. Will comments in a newsgroup add to your ROI or the reverse? So far the jury is out. However, in reputation management terms, the evidence suggests that there is every case for planning on Internet communities having an effect on both marketing and corporate reputation and this in turn affects the company's ability to trade effectively.

The use of Internet communication shakes people out of watching, say, television into becoming involved. There is now significant evidence that the Internet is slicing into television viewing time.

While many seem to be panicked by bad mouthing in virtual communities, I take a more cautious view. It is unpleasant to be the subject of criticism especially when it is infounded. Certainly respond to comment with factual information when a comment
is plainly erroneous and could be very damaging. However, some of the biggest brand names in the world have withstood a barrage of Internet criticism for years. Nestle, Nike, McDonalds, Proctor an Gamble and many more could not have survived the Internet vilification had it been in newspapers. Gerald Ratner was reported in Newspapers for less and faced ruin.

The extent to which an ever growing proportion of the population becomes dependant on the Internet and seeks information, and the subsequent reaction to criticism turning to commercially harmful reaction is conjecture. That there is an effect is now beyond doubt. I am reasonably confident that share of Internet presence is significant because I see Amazon and Yahoo and e-bay growing ever more dominant and, in their Internet way, profitable.

I am tempted to believe that favourable comment is effective as between, for example, supermarkets. But I am of a mind that there has to be some coalition between the Internet Society and some manifestation of a coalition with another and powerful form of society before a significant reaction takes place. For example, the coalition between newspapers and the Internet has brought the one time darling of scientist and politician alike to its knees in the shape of agricultural genetic engineering. In this
respect, the nature of Internet reputation management, if only in its defensive role, remains important.

As an aid to enhancing reputation and there is significant evidence that Internet reputation management to enhance virtual presence is effective. I give you Freeserve, Xoom, the BBC and many more.

Article Series

This article is part 18 of a 36 part series. Other articles in this series are shown below:
  1. The Internet Influence
  2. Reputation
  3. The Internet Society
  4. How People Use The Internet
  5. The Opinion Formers
  6. A Stakerholder Society
  7. Its Fast
  8. Technology For The People
  9. A Reputation For Responding
  10. Newsgroups, Chat and Cybercast
  11. The Nature of Newsgroups
  12. Chat Overtaking Newsgroups
  13. Cybercasting
  14. The Internet Communities
  15. Neighbourghood Communities
  16. Company Communities
  17. Community Currency
  18. The Effect Of Virutal Communities On The Bottom Line
  19. Political Communities
  20. Cyber Marketers
  21. Global Branding
  22. Accessibility
  23. Cyberbrand Outreach Accessibility
  24. Information
  25. Interactivity
  26. Brand Performance
  27. Online PR
  28. Sponsorship Marketing
  29. Brand Attacks
  30. Cyber Counterfit Sales
  31. Internal Communications
  32. Cyberstalkers
  33. Protection from Cyberstalkers
  34. Investor Relations
  35. Share Scams
  36. Protecting Investors
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