Those who gather around the new water coolers tend to hang out with others that share common interests. That leads to passionate conversations by people passionate about [insert topic here].
It also leads to opportunities for brands to help facilitate and/or participate in conversations with consumers who share interests with their brand. In most cases, social media tools have brought these people together and we can find where they’re congregating.
Of course, you have to show up in relevant ways. It’s not about you in these places. It’s about the community. Add value. Don’t be self-serving. Participate in the conversation. Don’t try to dictate it. In short, be a good neighbor.
In some cases you can help make the conversation possible by sponsoring forums, message boards, conferences, etc. For example, Tire Rack sells performance tires. It sponsors the Tire & Wheel forum at Bimmer Forums, an online gathering place for BMW owners and enthusiasts. It is helping to enable conversation around a topic it has expertise and interest in.
Another benefit of being able to identify community members with shared interests is the possibility of converting skeptics about your brand to advocates. Accomplishing that is possible. It takes time, patience, honesty, listening, and consistently adding value, among other things, but it can be done. Just ask Richard.
*Image by Jacob Botter.