Monday, October 6, 2008

More Than 60 Percent of Fortune 1000 Companies With a Web Site Will Connect to or Host a Form of Online Community by 2010

To do business with the growing "Generation Virtual" population, companies will need to provide, or connect to, social applications to attract and engage customers, gathering information about their future wants and needs to lead them toward products and services, according to Gartner, Inc. By 2010, more than 60 percent of Fortune 1,000 companies with a Web site will connect to or host some form of online community that can be utilized for customer relationship purposes.

However, establishing an online community isn’t without challenges. Gartner predicts that by 2010, more than 50 percent of companies that have established an online community will fail to establish mutual purpose, ultimately eroding customer and company values. To combat this, marketing organizations will need new skills to meet the needs of Generation Virtual.

Unlike previous generations, Generation Virtual (also known as Generation V) is not defined by age -- or gender, social demographic or geography -- but is based on demonstrated achievement, accomplishments and an increasing preference for the use of digital media channels to discover information, build knowledge and share insights. The definition of Generation V derives from the recognition that these common behaviors, attitudes and interests are starting to blend together in an online environment.

When doing business with Generation V, marketers will need to attract online personas by creating multiple, engaging online destinations and provide tools for Generation V individuals population to socialize and express their different personas. By creating these destinations, marketers can gain a deeper understanding of Generation V. Marketers should provide, or connect to, online destinations from selling-focused sites and community forums to brand-aware, persistent, 3-D virtual worlds to get customers to their sites and promote socialization in the community. From there, marketers can lead prospects to products and services while gathering relevant information about their future wants and needs.

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