The added value of online communities


Why do people join online communities and specifically what do they feel it’s the added value of such a community. For example, Facebook, it might give you information about diverse topics or it can make you feel more connected to your friends on a social level. The aim of Mina Seraj in the paper, We create, we connect, we respect, therefore we are: intellectual, social and cultural value in online communities, is to explore the main characteristics of online communities that are able to deliver value for its users.

It’s important to find out what these main characteristics are because then the managers of such online communities can implement these findings to make their communities more interesting and valuable for their users. Furthermore, if you want to create a community from scratch you know what factors are important to make it successful. Figure 1 shows some examples of reasons that consumers want to participate in communities.

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Figure 1 CCDC2017 Lecture 6 09/03/2017 Dimitrios Tsekouras RSM Erasmus University

 

In contrast to other research, this paper focusses on qualitative research methods. They performed a  netnography, which implies that the author actually became a premium member of the forum airliners.net, which was the subject of the research. Airliners.net is the most active aviation discussion forums focussed on aviation. It has more than 142000 paying members.  Being a participant observer, the author could observe the forum from the inside out and apart from that the content was analyzed and interviews were conducted with active members of the platform. Using a successful platform like airliners.net to identify the main strengths of an online community is valuable for the research on this topic.

The results showed that the characteristics; intellectual value, social value and cultural value are the main factors that create perceived value. For intellectual value, co-creation of knowledge and the quality of the content are specifically important. The second main characteristic is social value, specifically platform interactivity through social ties on the platform. For example, there are 500 uploads of pictures and hundreds of posts every day on airliner.net. Lastly, the culture value is important. Airliner.net created their own specific culture with norms, values, rules and regulations and this drives participants to contribute and see the value of the platform.

The observations on airliner.net resulted in the formation of seven roles of contributors that create the added value of the platform. These roles have an impact on the different perceived value characteristics and therefore are important to take into account when looking at your own community.

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Figure 2 Roles producing online community value

The most important conclusion of the paper is that the different characteristic should exist simultaneously to get the most value of the community. For managers, these finding could help them to create a strong community and understand the community to be able to deliver value to the members and receive monetary value in exchange. (Seraj, 2012)

Bibliography

Seraj, M. (2012). We create, we connect, we respect, therefore we are: intellectual, social, and cultural value in online communities. Journal of Interactive Marketing26(4), 209-222.

CCDC2017 Lecture 6 09/03/2017 Dimitrios Tsekouras RSM Erasmus University

 

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