Bill Johnston puts together some of the most detailed community research that I’ve seen (if you’ve seen something better, I’d love to know about it!), and his latest is a report on Marketing and Online Communities.
The study explored the current state of marketing to online communities, from the perspective of both the online community host, as well as from the perspective of the marketer.
We discovered early on in the research process that while community hosts and practitioners were willing to share their experiences, most marketers were not. At the beginning of the research I conducted several in-person interviews, it became clear that most marketing and advertising agencies have not met with great success in their community marketing efforts, and are unwilling to talk about their experiences. What limited success marketers have had is generally viewed as proprietary knowledge within the agency, and is closely guarded.
As you can see from the above quote, marketing and communities don’t always mix. Participating genuinely and talking about ideas seems to be better than pushing hard-core marketing and advertising onto the community. I’ve talked about marketing and good ways to engage with the communities many times before, so I won’t elaborate here (you can read the related posts below if you haven’t already heard my rants) 🙂
You can download and read the entire report (after a small, relatively painless registration), and decide for yourself.