Building Online Communities

On the Internet, today’s consumer is looking for “real interactions with real people,” said entrepreneur Mitch Joel during a March 3 presentation at The Plumb Club Forum @FIT.

“This is the Da Vinci Code,” said Joel, during his presentation, “Six Pixels of Separation – The New World of New Marketing.”

Joel of Twist Image, specializes in interactive marketing and communications techniques.

The Plumb Club Forum @FIT was held March 2 and 3 at the Fashion Institute of technology. Its objective was to define and spearhead an educational agenda for the jewelry industry, benefiting Plumb Club members and the industry at large.

“We live in a world that democratized and decentralized,” Joel said. “Twenty percent of all searches on Google have never been done before, every month. … Forty-eight percent of leisure time is spent online. This is the type of speed that your market is changing.”

He said that 85 percent of people online are shopping. And the biggest shift is that people can connect with the company online and with other people with similar interests.

“Being disconnected has the connotation of living in a cave and rubbing your bottom on a rock,” he said.

And he said that when building a Web site, it’s far more important to think in terms of communities then it is to worry about having the best and most up-to-date technology—unless it is serving the community. Communities spend double and visit more often, he said.
“You can use all of the funny cool widgets you want,” he said. “If nobody is using it, it sucks.”

He noted that the Internet is a media channel where “content is king.” It is replacing mass media. He encouraged people to experiment with video and with podcasts and do anything they can to provide relevant content and create a community.

“They’re looking for you,” he said. “How come you’re not giving them what they want?”

“Think in terms of tribes,” he added. “Don’t be fleeting—build, share, and grow. Earn the right to get your consumers out of lurker mode.

“My message here is not really technical at all. It’s about knowing who you are.”

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