In its fourth annual study of online community performance, member engagement and social media integration, ComBlu has delivered a stellar report that should serve as an eye-opener for brands and those advising brands on their overall social strategies heading into 2013 and beyond.

The 2012 State of Online Branded Communities report provides insights on the inner-workings of more than 200 online communities across 92 corporations and 15 industries and is a must-read for community managers, social media managers and brand managers, period!
I’ll go into a few of the key takeaways in a minute, but what stood out most to me was the acceptance of an “All-Facebook and Twitter” community ecosystem, mentioned on page 4. The authors go into detail about how this approach truncates engagement and prevents the formation of deeper affinity, on which I certainly agree.

I’ve long held the belief that Twitter and Facebook aren’t necessarily communities, and I can say this because I managed a branded “owned” community for three years and know with 100% certainty that it is an entirely different animal.

(See my post Community Manager vs. Social Media Manager from 2010 for more on my thoughts…)

In the report, the All-Facebook and Twitter” approach is referenced as a “social experience with a brand” which is a great way to explain it. It isn’t the highest level of engagement. There’s a difference.

Other key findings include:

  • Activity levels are generally healthy but fairly static across the board.
    While 43 percent of communities are enjoying high-levels of activity, that’s a mere one percent jump from last year.
  • Optimizing the member experience remains an aspirational goal.
  •  Telecommunications is the sole industry with high activity levels across all brands; pharmaceutical industry exhibited the lowest activity
  • Top performing industries include telecommunications, gaming, technology and consumer electronics, entertainment, and consumer products-beverage.
  • Brands that are “community superstars” include Verizon, SAP, Sony PlayStation, EA, AT&T, Bravo, IBM, Cisco, Kraft, Microsoft, Sprint, Xbox, Sears, T-Mobile and Whole Foods.

Too busy to read it today? Take a look at the infographic.  ComBlu is releasing the report and additional information this morning at the WOMMA Summit.
I’m sure there will be some great tweets during the announcement, so be sure to follow the twitter hashtag #WOMMASummit for updates.

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