Managers of online brand
communities can improve the
frequency of posts by hosting
the communities on popular
social networking applications
with which many customers are
already familiar. For example,
Procter & Gamble Co. hosts a
discussion board for its Pampers
diapers on Facebook.
Enhancing Relationships With Customers
Through Online Brand Communities
To make their online brand communities more effective, companies should strive to
improve the quality of four key components of customer-to-customer communication.
BY MAVIS T. ADJEI, CHARLES H. NOBLE AND STEPHANIE M. NOBLE
Online brand communities can bring customers closer to a brand,
generate “buzz” and enhance brand loyalty. Yet, important as online
brand communities are to consumer markets, little is known about
the role they play in consumer decision-making. Although the popularity of online brand communities as a means of gathering pre- and
post-purchase information continues to grow, knowledge about
how to effectively manage those conversations remains scant.
To learn more, we studied the active discussion boards of two
competing makers of high-end woodworking tools. After members
22 MIT SLOAN MANAGEMENT REVIEW summer 2012
read replies to their posts, we measured several outcomes, including forum members’ confidence in the company, their perceptions
of the customer-brand relationship (consisting of relationship satisfaction, trust and commitment), and the members’ self-reported
purchase behavior. We contacted 394 forum members via e-mail. A
total of 212 completed our survey, representing a response rate of
54%. Next, we downloaded conversations between members from
the company’s online forum, and analyzed the downloaded text.
Finally, to assess the reliability of customers’ memories, we checked