Back in the day, when I was in university and hadn't ever really heard about "marketing" as a career option, I majored in Philosophy and wrote a thesis entitled "Intentionality, Sacredness and Play: Integral Elements in the Philosophy of Ritual". For several years I spent a lot of time thinking about how ritual is used to bind communities together. My studies generally had a mystical bent (I specialised in the ritual of secret societies), but part of my work concerned more accessible and "every day" ritual.
I don't spend a lot of time thinking about this aspect of my education on a day to day basis now, but I admit to being a little smug (FINALLY my degree has relevance) when I was reading Sean Moffitt and Mike Dover's new book Wikibrands and came across this passage:
Typically, a brand community has five characteristics:
- It revolves around a shared interest in a company, product, or brand.
- It connects companies or brands with customers, Influencers, or other community members.
- It connects members with each other.
- It connects companies and members with nonmembers and prospective members.
- It upholds rituals and traditions that involve public greetings to recognize fellow brand/community lovers. (emphasis mine)
We all participate in these ritual manifestations of our online communities: from badges we place on our blogs to the hash tags we use on Twitter (#FF anyone) to the three-or-more letter acronyms we use in our favourite discussion forums (omg, I am so lqtm right now!). I'm pleased to see that Moffitt and Dover has acknowledged them in their book. Now, they don't go into a LOT of detail about them (ooo .. maybe that's the book *I* should write), but the fact that it is referenced is important.
I haven't finished Wikibrands yet, but I am enjoying what I have read so far. I skipped directly to the community section which is an interest of mine and a number of my readers. Chapters include:
- Chapter 11 - Community Development: The Life Stages of a Wikibrand Community
- Chapter 12 - Internalizing Community and Channeling Tom Sawyer
- Chapter 13 - Community Management: How to Build a Brand Garden, not a Ghost Town
- Chapter 14 - Measurement and Metrics: The Imperfect Science of Monitoring Wikibrand Performance
What I'm extra delighted by is that McGraw-Hill, Wikibrands publisher, has made available Chapter 11 - Community Development as a free download for MNIK readers. It has an excellent overview of the structure of brand communities as well as some great social media case studies including Lunapads, 1000 Awesome Things and the Museum of Modern Art - all great discoveries for me this week. Thanks, McGraw-Hill!
Also, I believe that one of the authors will be guest blogging on MNIK next week, so stay tuned for that!
UPDATE: Check out Sean Moffitt's guest post on what it takes to build a community in 2011. And then pick up your own copy of Wikibrands!