[via Dina Mehta] Sean Carton writes about social networking sites, and says “viral affinity communities will take off in business much the same way blogs did…only more so.”
Why more? Because getting people involved with your business, building community, repeat business and customer involvement are some of the most important means for staving off the downward pricing pressure and commoditization that have resulted from the Internet. Brands — strong brands, with strong brand affinity and loyalty — can charge more, keep customers longer, and tap into the most persuasive form of marketing: word of mouth. The ‘Net’s ability to bring communities together (and grow them virally) is one of the most powerful tools for online brand-building.
DeanLink, Friendster and Ryze combine all the most powerful aspects of viral marketing, affinity marketing, multilevel marketing and brand affinity in one place. They leverage the power of interactive media by allowing those most committed to the brand — the most loyal users — to bring others into the fold. Previously, these types of efforts were segregated. Combining them in one place where people with an affinity for a brand (or a need for support) can meet others with similar interests and recruit still more people is a powerful platform for building very strong brands.
How are these different from simple online communities? Unlike communities of the past that were more or less message boards, these communities are built one invitation at a time by people-who-know-people. Not forums for flame-wars and lurking, these are true communities of like-minded people who already have real-world connections to one another, and an affinity for the brand supporting the group. Result? Strong brand connections through strong interpersonal connections.