Based in Franklin, Tennessee, Emotiva Audio is an audio equipment developer and manufacturer that has been in business for over ten years. In that time, they’ve seen a lot changes in the industry and consumer’s needs.
Emotiva Audio has managed to maintain a strong relationship with their core customers, who use and advocate their products, by establishing an open online message board for people to interact with the company, other customers, and most interestingly, the engineers that made the very products that are being discussed. The forum, The Emotiva Lounge, is hosted on ProBoards, a popular message board host that has been widely used.
“We were looking for the best and fastest way to introduce and market new products, learn about our customers’ needs and better serve them, and using ProBoards has allowed us to do just that and more,” explains Jessica Gordon, Director of Marketing at Emotiva.
Every day, there is evidence of much activity on the forum’s pages, with over 14,000 topics posted since the board’s inception in 2007. There are hundreds of registered members logging in regularly along with a slew of guests hitting the webpage too to check it out, as well as up to 500 posts a week.
Clicking through the myriad sub-sections of The Emotiva Lounge reveals a wealth of discussion on the ins and outs of products or even just general FAQs. There’s a lot of ground covered when you really delve into each little sub-section of the forum and it seems to be working for Emotiva.
“The open engagement we get from our forum has translated into happier customers and has helped boost sales because we’re able to learn what our customers want and create solutions to fill their need, while fixing possible problems,” she adds.
“Our customers have direct access to the engineers and product developers through The Emotiva Lounge,” says Jessica of the bridges built between customer and business. “It’s enabled a direction connection between our company, fellow enthusiasts, and our customers, and the creation of a really wonderful and powerful user community. The value is hard to quantify. We wouldn’t be who we are today without it.”
How Emotiva Audio has maintained their strong presence and customer relationships with their message board is something of a paradox. Message boards aren’t the hubs of conversation like they used to be a number of years ago, falling prey to the sheer enormity and vast reach of social media. Of course, Emotiva Audio still has a Facebook page and a Twitter account but let’s compare numbers.
At the time of writing, Emotiva’s last tweet was on October 30th 2012 and their account has 866 followers, and it’s important to note that only three tweets were posted in 2012 with the last sight of regular tweeting being in July 2011. Their Facebook page is much more active however, with regular, almost daily posting and the numbers reflect that, with over 3,700 likes on board and comments on each post, but the numbers pale when compared to those discussing the latest news or equipment on the hive of activity that is the company’s ProBoards forum. Jessica explains why this works for Emotiva.
“Forums are meant for people with specific interests and that’s not what Facebook and Twitter deliver,” she says. “We found that sites like Facebook and Twitter allow you to get a message out, but don’t always encourage intimate two-way communication. We want our customers to feel like we’re listening to them, not dictating to them, and a forum provides a more intimate interactive conversation,” adds Jessica. “Forums are the primary way we interact with customers.”
The effect of social media, specifically Facebook and Twitter, on business is a hotly discussed topic, especially as it is always evolving. So does Emotiva have plans to harness these social media channels more in the future?
“We are already fully harnessing social media with our forum. Facebook and Twitter are not going to drive our sales – it’s talking to our customers and that’s what a forum allows us to do because it creates a conversation.”
Emotiva may now have a chance to expand on the methods that have been serving them well. In late 2012, ProBoards released the BETA version of their ProBoards 5.0, with the official release date coming on April 29th. The update will add some new feathers to its cap that companies like Emotiva can take advantage of, like Live Search and one-click navigation.
“Broadly speaking, we will continue to grow and be one the leading audio companies selling directly to consumers. You can only buy Emotiva products through our site or on Amazon. We do not sell through traditional retailers or dealers,” says Jessica to finish. “The community we built with our forum, created using ProBoards, will continue to be an important aspect of how we communicate with our customers and audio enthusiasts. We recently hired a community manager, so you can expect to see even more social engagement from us in the future.”