Monday, December 1, 2008

Tale of the Community Tape it is all about Member Intensity

Recently, I got inspired to look into the community aspect of other well known car companies.

Let's take a look at some of them (a random compilation from simple Google searches).

Mercedes Benz "Owners Online" - Official forum from the company. Very hard to join. Have to match exact VIN with Zip Code and Last Name on purchase. Good luck feeling like a community member. When you join (finally), your choices are to select your next Benz (thanks but most customer's are out of money when they buy one), to sign up for service plans ($$$), etc....not a site of other owners anywhere :( - Unofficial community forum site. At 8pm on Dec 1, 2008: 180,000 members. 1,400 online (400 members, 1000 guests). 0.2% Members on-line

Tesla Motors Owners Area: VERBOTEN....unless you have shelled out $109,000. I wonder if you've made a deposit and are still waiting for delivery, if they let you in here?? Once they do, I wonder what is behind the green door? It better be good, but my guess is that if there are only 50 delivered, and many to people like Ahnold Schwarzenegger, that there is little going on in the owners area (doubt that the Governator has time to spend chatting it up).

TeslaMotorsClub Forum: At 8pm on Dec 1, 2008: 624 members. 24 online (3 members, 21 guests). 0.4% Members on-line

Ford Motor Company Owner Services, Owner's Community: A place to access a limited list of Owner's Benefits, a few pieces of Merchandise (car shaped flowerpots, Mazda Zoom-Zoom day packs, Mustang cologne, etc.), safety education links, and a link to outside third-party forums. At least you can get in here without listing your family lineage, but still not a real heartbeat.

Ford Truck Forum: At 8pm on Dec 1, 2008: 490,000 members. 1900 online (700 members, 1200 guests). 0.14% Members on-line

Chevy Owner Services: The most promising yet for community, as there is a gucci Web 2.0 feel and a promise of connection with other users. But Ohmygoodness, 45 minutes later, I still was unable to get on-line with other users, after signing up for a Yahoo ID, and joining Yahoo Groups (which hosts the community), and then having Firefox browser issues, and then finally getting on but finding no one on line. Oh well.

FullSizeChevy Truck Forum: At 8pm on Dec 1, 2008: 102,000 members. 350 online (240 members, 110 guests). 0.2% Members on-line

And now let's compare to our partner, upstart auto company, Factory Five Racing Forums: At 8pm on Dec 1, 2008: 19,500 members. 1500 online (750 members, 750 guests). 4% Members on-line

That means Factory Five's community may be smaller but it has 28x's more activity from its members than does Ford Truck's largest forum, 20x's more than Benzworld and FullSizeChevy, and 10x's more than TeslaMotorsClub.

Those numbers may not look like a lot, but everything is about percent intensity when it comes to a share of a customer's mind and his wallet. Think of it simply as 28x more interest in Factory Five, 28x's more likely to return, 28x's more likely to ask a question of the company, 28x's more likely to give actionable feedback, and perhaps even 28x's more likely to spend a dollar at Christmas on a Factory Five part.

Wow, that is the kind of business I want to be in!


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