Xperiablog.net is an independent online community passionate about Sony Ericsson, specifically around the Xperia product line. Here are some quick stats about the community:
- Launched: January 2011
- Discussions: 360
- Messages: 650
- Engagement Ratio: 1.8 (the number of replies per thread)
- Members: 200
However, due to some recent [legal] events, the community will be unfortunately shutting its doors for good having only been live for ten months. Why? Sony Ericsson has filed a formal complaint regarding the use of its trademarked “Xperia” name, alleging it was used in “bad faith.”
“We do not have the resources to fight Sony Ericsson on this and therefore this is the last you will hear from us. Sony Ericsson has made great strides in its Xperia portfolio, especially in listening to the community. This makes it all the more confusing as to why Sony Ericsson would want to shut us down. We genuinely believe that 2012 could be a bumper year for the company, we just wish we could have been there along for the ride.”
I can see it from both sides here. First, I think the Xperia Play is a great mobile gaming platform. It’s easy for consumers to get all caught up in the brand to the point where it’s an obsession; that’s all they talk about and they search for others who hold the same passion. These customer evangelists tell the story on behalf of the brand and essentially do the marketing for them. You just can’t buy that kind of stuff. Secondly, I’m all for protecting the brand and all the associated trademarked assets that come along with it. It’s intellectual property, it’s sacred, and it’s what defines a company. Misuse can dilute the message, bringing it to the point of uselessness.
I don’t know the whole story, or the legalities behind it. I’m going purely off of what the admin posted as their last entry on the community’s blog. This is what I would’ve liked to see happen as an alternative:
Embrace it and partner up
- Sony Ericsson and Xperiablog.net to collaborate on co-branded assets. Something that delivers the message “This is the voice of the user.” By fully welcoming the situation, it would lead to a deeper more meaningful relationship where both sides would benefit. Sony Ericsson gains an independent voice, giving them more credibility in the marketplace. Xperiablog.net is recognized as a destination for passionate users, co-sponsored and fully supported by Sony Ericsson, fueling the community’s growth.
Engage and Grow
- Sony Ericsson has an existing online community. They could offer Xperiablog.net membership with special privileges like moderator positions, their own independent blog, to be part of focus groups, product testing or VIP badges. This would appease the legal department and send the message to Xperiablog.net that they are appreciated as customers and there will always be a home for them.
Like I mentioned, I don’t know the whole story. Maybe both options were offered and the two parties couldn’t come to an agreement. Either way, Xperiablog.net, “you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”
How is your company handling it’s fan sites and user groups?
Photo Credit: erocka
For most companies that are just ramping up their community efforts, they run with a slim community team. In my experiences, there’s a Director who manages budget and drives overall strategy, a Community Manager (Hey, that’s you!) that’s in the weeds day-to-day, and then if you’re lucky, possibly a moderator. That leaves a lot of empty seats at the table if you want an ever-growing and thriving community. So a lot of responsibility is left up to the community manager to perform, forcing him/her to put on different hats to get the job(s) done. How many hats does a community manager wear?
Here are my top 10 hats:
1. Sales & Marketing
2. Advertising & Promotions
3. Technical Support
4. Customer Service
5. Public Relations
6. Copy Writer
9. Project Manager
10. Content Manager
Did I forget a hat on the rack? Which one did I leave out? How many hats do you wear?