A key function or area of the collaboration community is the DIY, or How-To, area.  This truly provides the glue and the discussions that will hold the community together, provide the interest to retain and draw the consumer to return to the site and encourage the consumer to participate in the community.  The other areas of the site have a tendency to fall into a one sided conversation with the consumer or a private conversation with the consumer to address an issue or individual question.  The DIY area though should be the highlight and the focus of the community that provides the headlines and hook articles that will draw the consumer into the site and also provide the promotion interest through Facebook and Twitter to draw the consumer to return to the site.

This function will require the greatest effort to both start up and maintain within the community because it requires more than a passing comment to generate the interest.  This area requires some thoughtful architecture and definition as part of the definition to provide groupings or rooms of different interest for people to participate.  In addition to the architecture it also requires the ability to support different types of material from videos, to photos, to drawings, to text along with a mix and match ability for the material based on the subject matter.  This requirement is no simple feature and must be thought out and architected into the framework of the site to support the features and also the promotion of the features and the subject matter.  This will require a great deal of effort in the startup phase especially until it catches interest with the consumer community members to fully participate and populate the area with subjects of their own interest.

This one area will require the support from both the marketing team and the artistic development teams to create a site that interests the consumer and one that is promoted to generate the curiosity and the stickiness to encourage consumers to return.  In addition to this it is important that this area does not turn into another pure marketing outlet for the retailer, it must be viewed as an outlet for the consumer to discuss and demonstrate how they use the types of products sold by the retailer.  In fashion apparel it might be suggestions for pairing clothing and accessories and in hardlines it might be how to use the products in new and unusual ways.  In order to support these requirements this area must be the most dynamic of the community because it requires continuous change and updates to generate and maintain the interest.

The area should be the focus of your community with the greatest creative focus and also the most interactive area allowing for both postings of all types and also links to outside postings that are of interest to the consumer.  This must be an area that focuses on the consumer interests and not an area that focuses on the sale. 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?