Does that seem like a provocative title? Well it kind-of is. Communities do care about brands, but perhaps not in the way you like to think. Communities are self organizing groups of like-minded people who gather to share information, opinions, and suggestions, make friends, get together, etc. Sometimes, a brand sits at the center of the community, but more often it doesn’t
(Here’s my deck on How Communities Work.)
We have done hundreds of projects over the last 6 years harvesting and analyzing community conversations to understand why people do what they do. Across all these projects, brand mentions are typically a fraction of all the community conversation. In food, brand mentions are in less than 5% of the conversations. In a highly brand involved community, like cars or cellphones brand mentions are rarely in more than 30% of the conversations.
If you are “brand monitoring” then you are missing between 70% and 95% of the relevant conversation.
If you (Mr. Brand) want to “connect” with communities what you need to do is study community issues, motivations and drivers first. Once you understand the community motivations, then you are ready to participate. Just remember this rule of thumb. Everything you (Mr. Brand) do in the community should go through the filter of community motivations.
Are you serving the community or are you using the community?