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Online Communities and Social Media Programs Offer Cost Effective, Immediate and Interactive Ways to Promote Company Brand, Loyalty and Engagement in the Downturn


Forum One Network’s Online Communities: Surviving and Thriving in the Downturn report indicates that Executive Management teams are looking to online community and social media programs as a cost effective marketing solution in the economic downturn.

San Francisco, CA – March 10, 2009 – Forum One Networks, a strategy and research group specializing in online communities, found in a recent study, Online Communities: Surviving and Thriving in the Downturn, that 55% of the internal stakeholders and executive management who’s attitudes have recently changed towards online community and social media programs, consider their online community more valuable because of the current economic pressures. The primary reason respondents gave for the increase in value is that online community and social media programs are considered cost effective marketing tools that build brand loyalty, awareness and engagement.

While most companies have cut marketing budgets and advertising spending, our research suggests that many are now looking to social media and online community programs as serious marketing and engagement channels. One respondent writes about her executive management’s attitudes toward social media, “they are seeing the value, dollar for dollar, of social media marketing. The thousands spent on marketing campaigns are being cut, and the need for inexpensive/cheap word of mouth efforts is increasing rapidly.”

Bill Johnston, Chief Community Officer at Forum One Networks talks about how Skittles is utilizing social media and user generated content to promote their brand and engage their customers. “Skittles’ recently launched website is a great example of allowing social media to play a key role with online brand presences. Skittles has found a way to effectively market their products and build buzz around their brand, with a cost effective social media campaign.”

Online community and social media practitioners will utilize these tactics and more to continue to communicate the value of online community and social media programs back to their management teams throughout the year. A respondent notes that one of their primary goals is to “demonstrate and visualize the brand and monetary/ROI benefits that the community brings and how it reduces costs on operations and support.”

The Online Communities: Surviving and Thriving in the Downturn report was published by Forum One Networks’ Online Community Research Network. The intention of the study was to get a broad look at how the role of online community in organizations is being affected by the down economy, what effect the economy is having on community stakeholder’s attitudes, and what tactics community managers and strategists are employing to thrive during the downturn. For more information about the Online Communities: Surviving and Thriving in the Downturn study, or for a private briefing of the report, please contact us directly.

About Forum One Networks
Forum One Networks is a division of Forum One Communications, a web strategy and development group based in Alexandria, Virginia, with offices in the California Bay Area. Forum One Networks produces events, conducts research, and provides networking and strategic consulting for online community and social media professionals.


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