Purpose – Most business leaders are aware of the success and high market valuations associated with internet networking businesses such as Facebook and LinkedIn. But they often fail to apply the lessons from the success of these businesses to their own brick and mortar operations. This article discusses the underlying human willingness to help others with whom we have relatively weak connections. Businesses that tap into this human trait can expect increased loyalty from customers and improved business performance. The author proposes four key strategies for companies wishing to address this opportunity. Design/methodology/approach – In this article, Jackson discusses fundamental human behaviors behind the success of Facebook, LinedIn and many other off‐line networking organizations. The author cites a number of case examples of executives and businesses that have reinforced their commercial success through the principle of leveraging weak connections. Examples of businesses in the article include food and consumer durables, with a central example in the motorcycle industry. The author then draws lessons that can be applied broadly by any business. Findings – The author proposes four priorities for reinforcing success through the power of weak connections: leverage the strength of your core product to build consumer interest and loyalty; create mechanisms for customer‐customer connections as well as company‐customer communication; become a destination for all potential users including non‐customers; and embrace weak connection technologies such as internet networking and devote sufficient resources to make your organization stand out. Often this means devoting a full‐time person to social networking. Originality/value – This article sheds light on the underlying human trait of wanting to help others with whom we share some kind of connection, even if it is a relatively weak one, and the commercial opportunities this creates.
Journal of Business Strategy – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 6, 2011
Keywords: Internet; Social networking; Connections; Communities; Loyalty
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