"She's a witch!" In the 1975 cult comedy classic Monty Python & the Holy Grail, Sir Bedevere and a village of peasants are trying to decide how best to handle a troublesome sorceress situation. Through a little bit of faulty logic, and a lot of suggestions from the crowd, the town is finally able to determine that witches float because they're made of wood—obviously—and that the solution is to burn them. This hilarious misadventure in medieval parody may seem like it's just for laughs, but it also illustrates an important point: The growing value of customer communities and crowdsourcing.
The Wisdom of Crowds
How can you get the most out of your customer communities, and derive value for your very modern-day brand from the organic interactions that happen in an online forum? A recently released e-book from Get Satisfaction points out "13 Highlights on The Latest Trends in Online Communities," and is packed with metrics and examples on what crowdsourcing can do for you.
Even though online communities are still new for many marketers—61 percent of surveyed businesses reported having one, and 25 percent report that they will be deploying one in the coming year—more and more companies are recognizing the very real benefits, from boosted SEO to marketing itself through genuine customer experience.
One major highlight of the analysis is that user-generated content is perceived as being 62 percent more credible than similar content that comes from the top down. Brands are increasingly finding that their image is more highly regarded when it comes from grassroots community discussions, rather than a corporate marketing shtick. A flourishing online community makes your website more appealing and engaging, and also sets your brand apart with custom-fit social involvement.
A thriving online community around your company can also be used as a peer-to-peer support system. Many of the surveyed companies reported that online communities provide a social support experience, and are key to their customer support mechanisms. This newly evolved model of social support can alleviate pressure from the shoulders of your traditional customer support team, and even directly be linked to saving money (between 10 and 25 percent annually) as a result.