Community-Building: Necessity or Nice-to-Have?

This post is a short recap by Oliver Roup, Founder and CEO of VigLink, of Affiliate Summit West. Earlier this month I was in Las Vegas to lead a session on the value of community-building and social behavior at Affiliate Summit West.  It’s no surprise that social media has transformed the way consumers are reaching purchasing decisions, but it’s less clear what that means for affiliate marketers and online publishers.During the session, I focused on the ways website owners can leverage the monumental shift towards “social-buying” by including spaces within their site where purchasing decisions are made. Easier said than done, of course, but here’s a quick recap of the things we talked about:

  1. If you are doing something “non-social,” and it works — keep doing it.  So, if you are successfully purchasing paid traffic, sending it to a landing page, and earning revenue, great. Don’t stop. But do augment.
  2. Create a framework for interaction within your site. This could be a robust commenting system or a forum component.  Facebook pages are great, as are Tweets, but building a community goes beyond what you are doing on social media sites — it brings the community to your site.
  3. Don’t overdo it. The goal of a community is to create a richer site experience for visitors, which will in turn create additional opportunities to earn revenue (via banner ad sales and affiliate marketing). If you attempt to force the monetization piece of a community — by introducing excessive advertisements or overly commercial product content — you will not succeed.  Twitter, which was founded in 2006 and has an estimated 175 million users, has only recently begun to focus on monetization (of course, this is an extreme — for most sites there is no need to wait that long or for that many community members to start monetizing — but it’s an interesting point of reference).

An increasing number of marketers are succeeding at introducing a community component to their site.  But, similar to a decade ago when some companies still considered websites “optional,” today many still view community-building as optional.  Those that realize that shaping their user-base into a community is a necessity, rather than a nice-to-have, will be leaps and bounds ahead of those that don’t in terms of traffic, revenue and influence.A few more details on the ins and outs of community-building and driving social behavior can be found in my slides below…Oliver Roup | Founder & CEO | VigLink

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