Social media diary 9/1/2009 - Skype

Sony Corporation ソニー株式会社

Sony crowd-sources name for new online community

Sony this week launched a beta version of it's new online community this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The site combines company blogs with videos, photos and polls as well as allowing users to create profiles; it's a site for users to engage with Sony as a brand and as a company. They're using the site at the Show both to report on product launches but also to allow people to engage with their bloggers and content. From the perspective of launching an online community, many of the usual criteria appear to be met. The community is missing just one thing: a name.

Sony are looking to co-create the name for their online community, working with those people who are first to use and try the site both to get feedback on the content and the interactions, but also to suggest a name for the community. As their chief blogger and senior vice president of corporate communications, Rick Clancy, says:

We want to get feedback from users and also we thought it would be great to reach out to users for suggestions on a name for the site. My favorite so far is 'Sony No Baloney,' which I used for the very first blog post, but some of my colleagues disagree. Hopefully, the community members themselves can suggest something more clever.

So what can we learn from this?

There are many things right about how Sony are launching their online community. Getting the strategy and launch right can really help to maximise the chances of success, including:

  • seeding the community with content and members even before the beta launch
  • bringing together the ways the company interacts - making the user experience simple and not making them do work to find out where to interact
  • launching alongside an event - capitalising upon the PR the event will bring and also establishing the clear relationship between the online and offline community of consumers - they are the same people after all, just engaging in different ways
  • using the first members to help you finalise and develop the community

By working with these first members to co-create the name for the online community itself, Sony is allowing them to have real input into a significant part of the community member experience - what the community is actually called. There are many ways to engage community members and confer a feeling of ownership of the community too them, but I particularly like the idea of getting them to name the site. Naming conventions in society are important - those who help to name something feel ownership of and responsibility for it. By getting these first community members to work together to name the site they will create a set of people who feel responsibility for the success of the site and who want to work to make it a success.

Understanding the social dynamics at play in online communities is important, and if you capitalise upon them you can really help maximise the potential for success at launch and whilst you grow and develop your site.

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Matt Rhodes

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