Online Communities A Bad Thing?

from the silly-investors dept

Apparently the buzzword “community” online is now a bad thing. This is for a very simple reason: communities alone don’t make money. Who didn’t realize this originally? Communities are nice, and useful, and help people identify more with a site, but they’re not there to generate money. But, in the past few years, people forgot to figure out where the money was coming from and online communities sounded like a good idea. Now, venture capitalists run away from anything described as a “community”, which could be bad. If someone has a good idea to make money that happens to involve a community, there could still be plenty of potential.

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Comments on “Online Communities A Bad Thing?”

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Ryan says:

They'll be back

Not VCs, but communities, eventually, anyway. Corporations (at least, brick-and-mortar ones), and even governments are finding out that customers have discovered that they can usually get what they’re looking for at a number of places, and customer service is a key to keep customers. If you look at any business with customers (i.e. every business), most have some mention of serving their customers in their mission statements now. Internet companies have to work even harder because branding is so much harder in cyberspace – you don’t even have to drive across town to get the cheaper price, just type in the new address. Companies will come to realize that though you can’t make direct money from communities, you do derive benefits from them, just like in the real world. Adobe and Dell already are picking up on the fact. Or at least, they’ll keep business from walking away to someone else.

Ryan says:

Re: They'll be back

Actually, there’s a story I just found somewhat illustrating this on infoworld. It basically says that online companies can very easily drive away business by not having easily accessible customer service, and liken most websites to stores with no salespeople on the floor. Going online will never replace going to the mall, but websites can try and humanize their sites and help their customers simply by making customer service easily available.

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