Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A framework for better understanding online social communities and WOM

New research suggests that online communities go through 7 stages of development and that each stage has a certain word-of-mouth type associated with it. The WOMMA Research Blog mentions research done by Boston University professors Anat Toder-Alon and Frederic F. Brunel, which identifies these stages and WOM genres. Specifically, the seven stages are Joining, Coordination, Prompting Intimacy, Communal Sense, Alienation & Splintering, Communal Again, and Culmination. The WOM genres are Identity Orientation (individual or group), and Pattern of Interaction (task-oriented or socio-emotional). What does this newfound framework offer marketers? In their paper (PDF), the authors argue that this approach can help marketers to better understand how WOM works in online communities and the context in which it occurs. In turn, marketers can better modify their communications to encourage purchase or consumption (p. 24-25).

I bring this to your attention because as we librarians tread into the new world of online communities, it's helpful to understand why people use these sites, how they exchange information, and in what context. In doing so, we're better able to communicate our services and leverage WOM.

Categories: research_and_reports

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