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Online Community Sites and Characteristics
This part of the essay considers the advantages of online accessible information as a resource, which engages a lot of tangible technologically produced information technology hardware and other products or documented artefacts. The face-to-face interactive activities promote these products and bonds the members of the brand communities through the organized events.
Sustenance of extended contact and relationship among member groups occurs through the internet. In this view, it is a virtual space that enables workgroup members and consumers to present themselves in a digital manner.
In accordance with Muniz et al (4), the characteristic of brand communities involves distributed or shared consciousness, customs, formal procedures and ethical responsibilities. The users also have something common for them to participate in such online discussions.
By searching beyond their physical social boundaries through the net, today’s consumers are increasingly try to find different other consumers and producers in the aim or improving quality. The option of endorsing and using analyzes on communal websites or private web spaces enable them to choose products or services, which best fit their needs and are competitively qualified. (Shau and Gilly, 3)
This relatively new behavior is highly emulated today because of the radical changes involved and chances to increase the realm of other possibilities. The main difference between brought out here is that offline interaction limits interpretation forcing people to only rely on self presentations while online presents distant observations from anyone else located elsewhere in the globe. (Shau and Gilly, 3)
Earlier, the personal websites dominated the virtual world as the only rudimental forms for information exchange but today all the users are competently able to use almost all interactive possibilities, some of which are more complicated. These are the sources of the emerging interactive brand communities. (Shau and Gilly, 3)
Whether they take part consciously or unconsciously, the participating users in these band communities gradually develop some similarities in understanding and views developed through the online discussions.
Due to their similarity to the media groups, both the ITRC HP (Information Technology Resources Centre of Hewlett Packard) and Black berry forums support participation and online discussions of users who have conscious formal procedures and traditions. Generally, the community does not allow negligence over moral responsibility of such member of brand communities.
ITRC HP Forum
The “ITRC HP (Information Technology Resources Centre of Hewlett Packard) Forum” supports peer-to-peer virtual interaction among professionals and other community members.
People can regard it as a company supported inter-networked community. (Boettcher, 1999) Considering the HP website, the forum is officially located as the main knowledge base for customers with the Hewlett Packard as the main sponsors.
The forum’s main function is to present the HP customers with all the information they require to know thus it plays a big role of supporting the customer care servers. It contains all the important trouble-shooting types of information regarding technicality.
The HP customers have easy time because their supplements are technical supports and the forum provides them with a chance to share knowledge.
Some like-minded professional are important for such an environment because their experience with products comes in handy on provision of services. They have ability to interact, gather and exchange the experiences, any unique acquaintances and practices they may have.
Some of the common components of the ITRC HP forum include the threads for opening a new task or for replying to work group’s activities/questions. They are quite similar to other online communities mainly concerning procedures. The “Point-Based system” is however one distinctive element of the ITRC HR forum.
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The forum is mainly concern with quick ways of coming up with solutions to problems. The process requires quick reply to questions from members. The reply can come from any other member of the group or a HP employee meaning that they ought to be well equipped with responses to various common questions.
The inquirer must gauge the answer received by rating it against a specific scale for instance the range of 0 to 10 with zero being the lowest and ten the highest. The requester may have received more than one answer to the inquisition and therefore it calls for more than one rated feedback. The system is therefore able to come up with a list of active members based on the rating placed by the answering recipients.
The more the points the higher the status of the member on their profiles as indicated on the home page of the forum’s site, especially when they have done extremely well.
This provides many opportunities for those members with a high profile status to advertise and sell their names, social status or the companies name especially in production. It is also a good way of motivating members and encouraging them to attain the highest service skills possible and to participate actively in the symposium issues.
Basing on the Boettcher’s writing, (1999), the ITRC HP contemporary had a 41,251 member forums with the registered members being 845,289. “North America, Europe and India” take pleasure in having the majority of members.
For the ITRC HP forum, the level of education remains higher compared to other online forums because most of the discussions involves technology that requires members to have sufficient knowledge on IT and HP products in order to participate in the discussions comfortably.
Classification of the “Blackberry Community Forum” (BB Forum) falls under special category because it does not belong to the groups that enjoy sponsorship by companies. Neither do they have special interests nor are do they enjoy special responsibilities considerations. Its design is suitable for members who might be interested on the products that are associated with Blackberry technology.
Although still in its early years of growth, these online communities found mainly in the U.S and Canada but also in other major countries. It has rules and regulations concerning the ethics of developing more social and excellent discussions just like other forums. Unlike the ITRC HP forum, the Blackberry products manufacturers do not financially support the Blackberry forum.
Based on statistics as per Boettcher’s writing, the active registered members of the BB Forum stood at 162,272. The forum itself had 392,382 registered members. Compared to the ITRC HP forum, the BB forum had a slightly different communication structure especially in the way they interact with the community. The representatives in the forum had similar roles and levels of participation as general members.
This is an indication that the modulators are involved in communication directly and thus they ought to be actively participating members of the forum besides managing and protecting the community. This is a great breakthrough in the band communities because the members have even playing fields and it can form a hierarchical break for other sub-forums. The moderators are in charge of any special of specific skills relating to the sub-forums.
Comparing the BB forum to the ITRC HP forum the system has a points gathering criteria that works differently. Gaining of points occurs if a member answers forum question or submits a post.
The member profile, made up of the accumulated points and this indicates that visitors to the site are able to view how well others are working in the community. BB forum members do not utilize the points to enhance their reputation, profile or advertise their business names. The increased profiles help to gain recognition in the community.
Brand communities pose a wide selection of common characteristic among different communities such as “shared consciousness, communal rituals and traditions and a sense of moral responsibilities.” (Muniz and O’Guinn, 4) They draw clear perspective among the communities, consumers and marketers.
In line with Muniz and O’Guinn (4), they present the social structure that strengthens the business affiliation between the consumer and marketers of trademarked products. They are able to communicate, create good rapport and enhance a form of influence that makes customers feel royal and respected.
In their writing, Muniz and O’Guinn (4) state that, “brands are undeniably and fundamentally social entities created as much by consumers as by marketers in a complex and fascinating dance of social construction.”
Today the brand communities primarily centers upon manufacturing products such as vehicles or computers and entertainment supportive products such as computer or TV box games. It is the high time they perspective diverges to cater for the variety of goods and services.
If pairing of the brand communities with methodologies for analysis of their social networks were feasible, it would be possible to hit upon the required insight over their relationships and performance.
Boettcher, S. What types of virtual communities can I build and what tools are available? 1999. Retrieved from <https://fullcirc.com/>
Muniz, Albert M. Jr. and O’Guinn, Thomas C. “Brand community,” Journal of Consumer Research, 27 (4). 2001
Schau, Hope Jensen and Mary C. Gily, “We are what we Post? Self- Presentation in Personal Web Space,” Journal of Consumer Research, 30 (3), 385-404. 2003