In this article the Community Manager at Symantec Marialaura describes her experience with communities, including answers to the following questions:
- How do the communities work in different languages?
- What is the size of the communities?
- What is the communities’ motivation?
In online brand communities, consumers receive support in learning to use the product and learning to solve problems during its use. Customers ask questions and receive help from employees or other customers. In this way, users have the possibility of a real dialogue and the chance to subvert the hierarchies in the sense that this change supports a direct relationship between consumer and brand. Following a brand page means being able to share experiences directly with the company.
The mission of enterprises who host online communities is making sure that the company always communicates with its customers. Work in different languages gives the advantage to get benefit from everyone. The Norton Forum is an example of online community that helps its members exchange ideas and information related to products and services in different languages. It is an example of spontaneous cooperation and participation between people based on knowledge exchange and collaborative problem solving.
The US Forum is an English speaking community and users are both native and non-native speakers. Norton also has communities active in French and German. Symantec believes that forum conversations in different mother-tongues can benefit both the company and the community: it increases the size and the quality of the community by gathering customer feedback from more people with product experience. The size of a community is also important because it influences the way people act together and the type of relation they build. The US Forum has thousands users registered and hundreds posts and as many replies per day. It hosts various topics and interests related to Norton computer security software. Participants create values by getting and sharing information about products. On the French and the German forums users also solve problems and generate ideas, and the smaller size of these communities allows a more familiar atmosphere. Simple questions as well as more technical issues get immediate feedback and fast responses.
Most of the people come to Norton social platforms to gather information on their preferences from other people who know about the products. The online community is a social unit that shares common values and emotional connection. Groups can provide individuals with source of information, help in achieving goals, reaching solutions, and receiving rewards. The value that an individual person attributes to these online communities derives from the perceived membership in the group. The opportunity to achieve some knowledge and perform specific tasks in an active process based on interaction motivates people to take part in online communities. The individual acquires information and finds problem solutions by receiving supports and inputs from the group. In this way, the members of the community reach results that they would not be able to reach alone. This makes individuals participate in online social interaction and socialize within the community.
This tendency of online social interactions gives new forms of value both for commercial and no-profit environment. It helps building a set of interventions to expand enterprises’ awareness of customers’ needs on the spirit of a win-win philosophy that would be the best chance for a long-term relationship with the customers.