Rise and Fall of Branded Online Communities


Most major brands are leveraging and knowledgeable (or at least trying to) of popular social networks like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter in their advertising efforts and initiatives. I believe Nielsen released a study showing an increase in online ad buys (and not to mention the traffic these Websites receive!) v.s. the decrease in print and broadcast ad buys (Don’t quote me exactly on the study as I’m having a hard time locating it.)

Although brands are leveraging social profiles in advertising, there are a select few that decided to create their own “social community.” However, they didn't do a good job on branding or advertising them properly.

In fact, in just about ten weeks after launching its own version of MySpace, Wal-Mart shut down “The Hub."

TechDirt said “It was pretty obvious from the outset that Wal-Mart's attempt to create a MySpace-like social-networking site was a non-starter." I kind of remember this "Hub." Perhaps it wasn't advertised or talked about enough but the idea seemed okay in theory, but the execution relied too much on the Myspace fad and appeared to have disregarded customers.

However amongst the fallen, there are successes. Sears Holdings has a MySears Social Online Community. The MySears community lets customers share their insights, experiences and product reviews by creating a dialogue between Sears and customers.

They must be doing a good thing. There are over half a million members on the community and the community has recently been named a finalist in the American Business Awards (The Stevie's).

Maybe Wal-mart should have invested more in engaging and knowing their customers lol.

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