Micro-Communities that Customers Actually Trust

This month's Fast Company is required reading from beginning to end: a fascinating article about Wikipedia becoming the de facto taxonomy of the web (and challenging Google's dominance of "trusted search" in the process), a great profile of a design shop with complete authenticity, and some empowering tools for socially responsible investors. A little one-pager that caught my eye as well, though, is about "Building a New Nest" -- companies that have cracked the challenge of building trusted online communities that actually create value for their customers without (obviously) using it as a marketing opportunity. Of course, the message of these examples is: deliver value and people will thank you, and reward you, for it. Give it a read here. [Fair warning - you need FC's little code from page 10. But that's my own little plug for you to go buy the issue if you don't already receive it -- it's well worth it.] We often get asked whether or not potential customers will really trust a company's community - "why wouldn't they go find another community to talk about these things?" This little article is just a nice, concise proof-point that occasionally companies get it right. The key takeaway is: "Make it useful, unique, valuable, and trustworthy... and if you don't abuse the trust, you'll be rewarded for it." Sounds obvious, but it's hard to get right. And those are the principles for fostering a good community out in the "real world" too.

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