Posted by: David | Friday, April 11,2008

Community Network + Conversational Marketing



Online communities are established based upon voluntary associations of people with shared interests or common purposes. It is a group of people who may or may not meet one another face to face and who exchange words and ideas through the mediation of computer bulletin boards and networks. Indeed, online community is about communication, and sharing of ideas (Rheingold, 1993).




It is this communicative core of community that makes possible the online community, an entity that parlays the power of new information technologies into shared knowledge, and information. The ability of members to compare their experiences and share their expertise transforms the online experience into a process of shared learning and community building (Hagel and Armstrong, 1997). However, Hagel defines this concept much more broadly and suggests that online communities be defined by bringing people together with a common set of needs or interests (Hagel and Armstrong, 1997). 


Dell Computer Corporation became a major player in the fiercely competitive high-tech industry soon after its formation in the mid-1980s. Dell developed and sold computer hardware, including network servers, desktop personal computers (PCs), and laptops, via direct sales to customers. In recent years, Dell has provided an online space for consumers to talk about their opinions for products and services. This online community has combine social networks and new technologies in this webpage in order to generate benefit both for the company and consumers.



Dell has provided many different online spaces for people to talk about specific topic in this community such us gaming, linux, digital photography, environment, etc. In those spaces, anyone can post their articles or opinions on it and exchange their experiences and share information to each other.



In this space, their consumers can provide any ideas or thoughts they think that is good or helpful for the company to improve their products and services in the future. So if you have any great idea you can post your opinion on this page, people who interesting in your article they might post some comments or suggestions on it. Moreover, any ideas in this webpage can be promoted and demoted by anyone. From company point of view, the vest majority of ideas are made from their consumers, consumers used Dell’s products and they exactly know what the problem is for specific products, so the company can gain lots product’s and service’s information form consumer’s perspective. As a result, this can provide an efficiency way for Dell to find out the problems or weakness more precisely and use the information to improve their product and services in the future.



Dell emphasizes that you can post your questions and you will get the answer. Thus, if you have any questions about particular products or services in Dell Company, people can post their questions and they will get the answer form Dell’s consumer services or form the people who has the same experience before. So, consumer can learn form each other rather than waiting for company reply.


“Conversational marketing was founded on ideas that came out of… the basic rules of human communication that we observe in action every day in the blogosphere and in online communities in general. One of those rules calls for complete transparency–something that’s not exactly compatible with the idea of paid agents spreading a marketer’s message, even if relationships are disclosed. Another of those ideas is the commitment to something other than broadcast thinking. The fundamental unit of human communication is the individual conversation, not a one-way message originating from a marketing department. Conversational marketing understands this. Word-of-mouth Marketing does not”


(Tom Hespos, President, Underscore Marketing, Oct 2006,



For both conversational and word of mouth marketing to succeed, I think people’s opinions are critical, because if majority of people disagree or against can be much more damaging, but the potential for an organization to connect, engage and understand their consumer base will be valuable for those who can succeed, not just from a marketing perspective, but also company product development.


Additional Information:

Figure: Use Of Social Network Websites (2006)



(Source:Ofcom research fieldwork conducted by ICM in June 2006)





Hagel, J. & Armstrong, A. (1997). Net.Gain: Expanding Markets through virtual communities, Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business School Press.


Rheingold, H. (1993). The Virtual Community: Homesteading in the Electronic Frontier. New York: Addison-Wesley




  1. Been reading for a while now. Just wanted to say good job.

    Chris Tackett

  2. Chris Tackett

    Thanks for your comment and I really glad you said that.

  3. Hello, I think you are doning well.

    Nice work.

  4. James

    Thanks a lot !

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