Thursday, June 16, 2005
Top Ten Online Community Trends - Submitted by Christine Albrecht
An article by Jim Cashelon, submitted by Christine
While surfing the web, I came across this interesting article by Jim Cashelon about trends for online communities. I have slightly edited the lengthy article so follow the link below to view the full report.
There are a few online communities that will fare well because they are catering to online niches.
Ten important trends to watch:
1) Search Communities ie: Classmates.com CEO Michael Schutzler reported a current revenue rate of $30 million annually. Dating community Match.com also measures annual revenue in the tens of millions of dollars. Jobs community site Monster.com measures annual revenue in the hundreds of millions of dollars. What do these communities have in common? All three are search sites: users visit not simply to chat, but to find something (classmate, soul mate, workmate). Users are willing to pay for search.
2) Trading Communities ie: eBay ($600 million in revenue, $18 billion market cap). In addition to successful auction sites, there are numerous new services and information based trading communities such as exp.com and keen.com that show promising revenue growth.
3) Education Communities: Online education is booming. Consumers understand the concept of e-learning, and are clearly willing to pay.
4) Scheduled Events Communities: Corporations increasingly are holding gatherings online: conferences, annual meetings, analyst calls, and working meetings. Online events firm Webex boasts revenue of over $50 million.
5) Subscriber-based Communities: While most online communities have struggled mightily with generating subscriber income, a few very large sites are showing some encouraging signs. ezboard is probably the largest freestanding online community site (10m unique users / 500m monthly page views). Its subscriber fees are in the six figures per month and growing. Salon.com and others are speaking publicly of early success, but we'll need to watch to identify the strongest initiatives.
6) Community Consulting Firms ie: Participate.com announced revenue of $8m.
7) E-mail-based Communities: People spend more time on their email than surfing the web. However, few community sites have yet exploited the power of e-mail. The clear exception is Yahoo Groups with its tens of millions of users and billions of e-mail messages each month
8) Advocacy Communities: Many online communities aren’t looking to become rich. They have other goals in mind like advocacy, education, politics. Advocacy communities are growing quickly in sophistication, thanks in part to new, powerful tools designed specifically for their needs.
9) Customer Relationship Management Communities: Corporations spend billions of dollars annually on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) programs. Sophisticated online efforts are increasingly involving message boards, Q&A areas, and other community applications. Prospero and others have reoriented strongly in this direction. Despite the promise, however, there has yet to be overwhelming evidence that corporations are willing to spend significantly for online community services within this niche .
10) M&A Activities: M&A activities involving online communities have nearly come to a standstill. That said, communities continue to grow larger, more effective, and better managed. As M&A activities across the Internet landscape normalize, the community sector will show somewhat of a renaissance.
Jim can be reached at cashel@OnlineCommunityReport.com .