“Forward-thinking brands will increasingly tap peer networks and social media channels to try to drive trust. Authenticity will determine their success.” Eric Whan, Sustainability Director at GlobeScan

“The explosion in Consumer Generated Media over the last couple of years means consumers’ reliance on word of mouth in the decision-making process, either from people they know or online consumers they don’t, has increased significantly” Jonathan Carson, President of Online, International, for the Nielsen Company

 

“The need for connection, self-expression, exploration, and convenience has changed the roles that brands and retailers play. To be successful, brands and retailers must address these needs by building communities, entertaining, and educating consumers and maintaining an ongoing dialogue.” Hana Ben-Shabat, A.T. Kearney partner and co-author of the study “Connected Consumers Are Not Created Equal: A Global Perspective”, November 2014


Description

The great popularity of social media, as well as a vast profusion of online and offline community services, have given rise to a social community spike, reflecting consumers’ growing need to turn to their peers. The invasion of digital connectivity coupled with economic hardship has created a strong incentive for people to build social and human connections. They are increasingly turning to others online to find help, support, tips or simply to share personal opinions as well as products and service experiences.

46% of respondents say social networks are the biggest draw for their time online, but there are big differences. In Brazil, Nigeria, India, and Russia people spend more time on social networks than any other activity; in the United States, Germany, and Japan, social networks are not a main focus of online activity, states a study from AT Kearney released in November 2014.

46% of respondents say social networks are the biggest draw for their time online, but there are big differences. In Brazil, Nigeria, India, and Russia people spend more time on social networks than any other activity; in the United States, Germany, and Japan social networks are not a main focus of online activity, states a study from AT Kearney released in November 2014. Facebook is the network most likely to drive customers to purchase, stated a Social to Sale study, and 85% of customers expect businesses to be active in social media, according to a study from Vocus. As consumers are getting more and more suspicious about marketing messages, they are using their peers as their first source of trust and legitimacy about products that far exceeds that of media or brands themselves. Global firm Nielsen states that 70% of consumers trust online consumer reviews, an increase of 15% in four years, hence the success of consumer review platforms like Yelp!, TripAdvisor, Cityvox, Zagat, Foursquare etc. Moreover, according to a 2014 study by Crowdtap and Ipsos, Millennials are more likely to trust user-generated content (UGC) than other types of media, as they find it more memorable. Last, people are also leveraging such platforms to meet new people, build relationships with others or develop their business.

Meet & share

The existence and the profusion of both online and offline communities has made it easier to meet new people and share interests and experiences with them. Indeed, according to the November 2014 AT Kearney report, 73% of participants said that connecting with other people is a key motivation for going online. Having a large network of relationships allows both businesses and individuals to grow faster and more smartly, since networks help to connect with the right people. Above all, being with like-minded people makes it easier for anyone to freely share their opinions. The use of social networks is the most common — and the most effective — channel to create new opportunities.

According to the 2014 AT Kearney report, 73% of participants said that connecting with other people is a key motivation for going online.

Finally, the trending attitude around information and experience sharing is a great way for people to benefit from advice, tips, opinions and experiences of others or to ask questions of people who share their interests. Belonging to a community has many goals: expanding one’s network, enlarging horizons, becoming more knowledgeable, etc. In the offline sphere, the craze around social communities has engendered a wave of members-only and supper clubs in big cities. Supposedly private and exclusive, these secret micro-communities are conceived to be accessible only to those ‘in the know’ – although their audience is actually getting broader through social networking and mobile technology. Members are also looking for the opportunity to connect with like-minded peers and welcome a way to escape. Joining a club creates a feeling of belonging: individuals are united by the same interests and hobbies and live an immersive and comprehensive experience.

Help & support

Despite a dismal economy, Millennials are finding comfort in the group and turning to other people to make the best of a bad situation; in other words, they are seeking support from their peers. The profusion of communities has renewed relationships between individuals through giving and receiving help, support and exchange of services. The multitude of online social platforms has tapped into the exchange of services between online users, both in a private and professional perspective. These platforms have been growing with the unique motto of bringing help to others, where people can trade off items, skills and resources. Their business model is based on a offer / demand logic, as they aim to link the expressed needs and existing answers in terms of products and services, optimizing every type of know-how.

The multitude of online social platforms has tapped into the exchange of services between online users, both from a private and professional perspective.

The other strength of communities lies in the support they provide to those who seek not only benevolent listening but above all moral support – which has been made possible thanks to the strength of the group and the network. A striking example comes from the increasing number of co-operative living and co-housing options. Fewer young people in Western countries can afford to move out of home, let alone buy property, and as a result those schemes are gaining popularity as a reaction against consumerism everywhere from rural to urban settings, from north to south. People have their own apartments, but bills, equipment and services are communal: kitchens, dining rooms and living rooms are as well,  and sometimes even recreation or outdoor spaces if they are available.

Featured examples

Kindly app

Credit: Kindly’s Facebook Page

Credit: Kindly’s Facebook Page

The Kindly app is an anonymous social network founded on the belief that “most people are kind and will take a few minutes to help a stranger”. The app promises to connect people in need of advice or consolation with “a mobile network of compassionate and helpful listeners,” all of whom are anonymous. The idea is for people to chat about difficult situations and receive unbiased feedback and advice. Chats are limited to “manageable increments” of 15 minutes, but users can add listeners as a friend to chat for longer. Users select from a list of topic prompts such as Addiction/Recovery, Family Issues and Relationships/Loneliness. They are then paired with an appropriate listener via an algorithm. Other similar social networks inlude 7 Cups of Tea, which offers auto-deleting conversations with “trained active listeners”, and Whisper, which aims to allow anonymous users to be more honest about themselves than on traditional social media.
United States of America United States, August 2014

InstaMeet

Credit: Blog.instagram.com

Credit: Blog.instagram.com

The ‘InstaMeet’ phenomenon assist travel marketers in inviting some of the world’s most followed Instagrammers on junkets to snap, filter, and post their way across a destination under a unified hashtag. Hamilton Island, a dollop of sand and bush in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, was one of the first to use this method of evoking community on a grand scale when it launched the Ultimate InstaMeet in October 2012. The event paired Australian models and reality television stars with Instagram contest winners from the U.S., and generated nearly 650 photos, 850,000 “likes,” 17,500 comments and 4,280 shares on Instagram. The trendy Queensland retreat (a regular feature in our top travel brands on social media roundups) followed up in May 2013 with Return2Paradise, a second InstaMeet that brought Aussie Olympians, fashion designers, comedians, actresses, chefs and photographers together with Instagram competition winners from the United Kingdom and China.
Australia Australia & Worldwide, October 2012

ClickWorker

Credit: Clickworker’s Facebook page

Credit: Clickworker’s Facebook page

ClickWorker is a micro jobs crowdsourcing marketplace that brings together a community of more than 500,000 freelancers in various fields from IT to web design, who are available across 136 countries, and work in 30 different languages. Online users can make a request for a specific task or apply for online advice, specifying keywords in the application process. The platform will find the most appropriate person to complete the task, using all the available skills to hire the best expert. Once the work is completed, it is sent to the applicant within the desired format. On their side, freelancers choose small tasks from the pool of available projects, based on their qualifications – which are determined by their performance on assessments and on previous work completed.
Germany Germany, February 2014

Superb App

Credit: Blog.dosuperb.com

Credit: Blog.dosuperb.com

Superb is a social networking app that enables you to collect, share and experience must-try places with your friends. It does so in a fun and casual Tinder-esque way that invites users to swipe through full-screen, photo-centric cards of possible destinations – right for yes, left for no – to build a to-do list of sorts that will then be matched to friends with shared interests. Users can also tap a card to indicate that they’ve already visited a particular place. When indicating interest in a particular location, users are presented with a list of other contacts who have also expressed interest. Opening a friend’s profile also displays a list of things in common.
United States of America United States, December 2013

Skycheckin

Skycheckin’s Facebook page

Skycheckin’s Facebook page

Skycheckin.com is a social network used by travel individuals for business or pleasure to connect and create new social opportunities by checking into Airlines; it’s all about Airlines, people and real connections. Skycheckin helps connect the world’s travellers to make them more productive and successful, as the platform allows people to find an Airline passenger that has information or the skills they may need. Every Airline passengers around the world can use Skycheckin to virtually check-in to their Airline and connect and set up meetings with other interesting Airline passengers. Skycheckin’s database has more than 5000 Airlines worldwide, so it can be used on almost every trip in the world.
France France, June 2014

Links&Go

Links&go is a service that allows travelers to get informed and then get in touch with other people who will stay at the same place during their vacations. In addition to identifying travelers with similar interests, the social platform makes buzz about locals, as members can get in touch with them to serve as mentors or advisers ahead of the trip. An ad space is also provided so that locals can advertise about their activity every time holidaymakers hang out near their shop.
France France, June 2014

Business & Marketing guidelines

1

Embrace the collective mindset: Although they realise that there’s little they can do about the bigger picture, Millennials are supporting local products and services to help in other ways. Egotistical marketing just doesn’t fly with this generation: They’re not forced to share; they want to.

2

Transform your retail space with aspects of a members’ club in order to provide your customers with a private and intimate experience. They will feel part of a community of select people and will mark the experience as an exclusive one.

3

Cultivate honest and collaborative relationships with consumers in order to win their trust, loyalty and participation.

4

Tap peer networks and social media channels to develop trust. Authenticity will determine your brand’s success.

5

Provide platforms for consumers to come together, on their own terms, to share insights and ideas. It is what will drive loyalty in the next decade.

6

Tap the ‘club culture’ phenomenon in using unknown underground locations and edgy urban areas to showcase products and host customer events.

Summary

  • The rise of social communities has been evidenced by the great popularity of social media as well as the profusion of online and offline community services, reflecting a growing consumer need to turn to their peers. The invasion of digital connectivity coupled with economic hardship has created a strong need for people to build social and human connections.
  • The existence and the profusion of both online and offline communities has made it easier to meet new people and share interests and experiences with them.
  • Millennials are finding comfort in the group and turning to other people to make the best of a bad situation; in other words, they are seeking support from their peers. The profusion of communities has renewed relationships between individuals through giving and receiving help, support and exchange of services.
  • 92% of consumers say they trust earned media, such as social media, word of mouth and recommendation from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising, according to Webbed Feet.

Experts that we recommend

louisdavid-benyayer Louis-David Benyayer
French researcher in strategy, co-founder of Without Model, a think tank dedicated to open, collaborative business models & author of book
Open Models (Without Model, 2014)
michel-bauwens Michel Bauwens
Founder of the Foundation for Peer-to-Peer Alternatives
christian-vanizette Christian Vanizette
Co-founder of online global movement for social business MakeSense