This is a submission by The Home Depot, for the Forrester Research Groundswell Awards. Category of submission is: North America, Business to Consumer, Supporting. Entry created by Sarah Molinari, The Home Depot
Customers of The Home Depot run the gamut of maintenance and repair expertise; from a professional contractor to a do-it-yourselfer to a first-time home owner. We created a community on our website that mirrors our local store experience; bringing together these different customers in one place to discuss home improvement and share tips and expertise alongside our most knowledgeable Home Depot store associates.
The Home Depot 'How-To Community', http://community.homedepot.com was launched on October 11, 2010 as a destination for DIY and home improvement discussions. Consumers come to our Community to ask questions, share their expertise and to learn something new.
The Home Depot has helped many homeowners and DIYers learn the basic skills of home repair and maintenance by recruiting skilled store associates; hosting free in-store workshops; our series of 1-2-3 books; and our extensive library of online videos that take consumers through the steps of hundreds of repair or building projects.
This dedication to teach and empower our customers to take care of their homes and properties is brought to life online in our How-To Community.
Real People, Real Advice
However, beyond the normal peer-to-peer assistance often featured in online communities, we selected and trained a group of our most knowledgeable Home Depot store associates, from different parts of the U.S., to spend a dedicated amount of time each week helping customers on the site.
These “designated associates” help answer product and project questions and share their knowledge and experience with the entire community.
It's always better to see an explanation of how to do something so we outfitted this team with the latest technologies, including hand-held video cameras and web cameras.
This allows the team to create very thorough responses to specific questions, which often require a hands-on, visual explanation.
We also invited many of our product manufacturers to participate in these discussions with and among our customers.
Members of The Home Depot How-To Community can:
Meet other DIY enthusiasts
Take polls, provide feedback to the company
Share and browse pictures
Watch and share videos
Provide feedback to other users
DIY Reputation - that's handy!
Members of The Home Depot How-To Community earn rank and status among their peers by participating in the site on a regular basis and offering their expertise to other users. Discussions are organized in categories including: paint; tools and hardware; garden and yard; and do-it-yourself and repair.
Last month (July '11) we launched a flooring category because of the volume of organic conversation that we saw around that topic.
We regularly feature a “DIYer of the Day” on the company’s twitter handle and a “Fan of the Month” on Facebook to give these most active customers additional reasons to come and celebrate their stories with us and our other customers.
Last Winter we invited the earliest members of our How-To Community to share photos of their Christmas Trees. The entries were voted on by the community and once a winner was selected it was featured as the company’s facebook profile picture and twitter avatar for three days over Christmas.
Less than one year into the project we are impressed by the breadth of how-to content already available on the site, which is archived and catalogued by our customers for our customers for years to come. Members of the site have started 1,800 threads of discussion.
Our store associates are active participants throughout the site, and have created more than 200 how-to videos either in direct response to a specific topic thread, or to get conversation started around a topic they are interested in personally.
Because of the site’s close integration with our ecommerce website, we are already seeing an impact on sales of products related to the projects being discussed; in numbers slightly larger on a week-to-week basis than what we typically see from our other social conversations.
Benchmark measures (member count, content generation, traffic, interaction, liveliness and responsiveness) provided by our community partner, Lithium Technologies, are 25-30% above peer communities.