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Net Gain: Expanding Markets Through Virtual Communities Hardcover – March 1, 1997


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 235 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; First Printing edition (March 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875847595
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875847597
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,560,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Building relationships with customers has been a buzz phrase in many business circles for years. Now John Hagel and Arthur Armstrong declare that's not enough. They make a strong case that business success in the very near future will depend on using the Internet to build not just relationships, but communities. The payoff, they maintain, will be phenomenal customer loyalty and high profits. But, they warn, this race will definitely go to the swift. Here's a cyberspace book that could make your business future. Not everyone agrees with Hagel and Armstrong, but with stakes so high they deserves a serious reading.

From Library Journal

According to Hagel and Armstrong, both with the multimedia firm McKindey & Company, virtual communities are the marketplaces of the future. Representing more than a physical place on the Internet, they are an evolution in business dynamics. By providing a common forum on the Internet for consumers to share information, the authors argue, vendors are seeking access to these valuable market enclaves, hence creating a power shift from the vendor to the customer. The authors clearly demonstrate their professional experience and business acumen regarding this new market forum. Their book is a manifesto for a generation of entrepreneurs hoping to learn about the future of the online economy. Recommended for those seriously interested in the direction of business markets.?Dennis Krieb, St. Charles Cty. Community Coll. Lib., St. Peters, Mo.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Joshua Silver (jsilver@revlis.com) on April 23, 1998
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this book pretty much cover-to-cover and found it very thought provoking. It does a great job of explaining the opportunities in creating "Virtual Communities". Virtual communities are described as areas where a group of users sharing common interests gather to learn about and discuss information. These communities create an information source that shifts power from the vendors to the customers. Longer term, vendors can capitalize on this community by selling directly to the community members, and more importantly by using the customer interaction to create word-of-mouth advertising. Who are you more likely to trust: another user of the product or some sleazy salesman?
Up until this book, I have seen little written on the longer term business models on how to make money by aggregating users. This book will explain the rationale of why there is enormous value in web sites with a large base of users.
The book has a very interesting chart which describes the return on various strategic investments for a startup trying to build a virtual community. The conclusion was that far and away the most important investments were vendor acquisition (i.e. companies wanting to sell products to the members of the community), member-generated content, and member acquisition. Interestingly, usage fees for the site had an enormous long-term negative impact for the site (despite their short term ability to generate revenue).

There are a couple of points that I think were not well addressed in this book:
1) I don't believe that the authors make a compelling argument about how to sell the first vendors on the advantages of being a part of the virtual community.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Edward E. Rigdon on December 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The thing I really like about this book is the specifics. You find much more substance--including dollar amounts--in this book than you do in many e-biz books, even with the usual dollop of rah-rah. Several chapters are very helpful in making the business case for online communities, and in uncovering success/failure factors for this approach. I can't say that Hagel and Armstrong have it *all* right, but this is book will be one you refer back to on a regular basis. The management agenda in the appendix is a nice touch, as well.
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Format: Hardcover
According to Hagel and Armstrong, virtual communities that combine content and communication can expand market opportunities, and those who form these online communities will experience commercial success. Throughout the book, the authors stressed that those organizations who wait will lose out. However, the emphasis of the book is not about making money; rather it's about forming communities, collecting information on members' preferences, interests, etc., and using that information to meet their needs.
In my opinion, two of the most useful components of the book are a listing of personnel required for the implementation and maintenance of an online community, and steps needed to help managers get started in organizing a virtual community. The book is certainly worth reading, whether you are developing websites for business, education, recreation, etc. Hagel and Armstrong present valid reasons and practical suggestions for developing online communities that will help members connect, as well as seek and find.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By H.C. Joiner on June 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was probably five stars when it was published - in 1997. However, too much has changed since then, obviously through no fault of the authors. I knew I was in trouble when the authors raved about Motley Fool and asked "can online trading be far behind?" Save your money.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By L.H.E. Kleinreesink, InterChain Technologies on December 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover
A book which has been at the basis of our company. The book gives a clear vision on the futur of the Internet, especially on the commercial part of it. How to create a place on the Internet which your target group visits, where they talk about your products and services and where you can give them (and thereby your own company) added value. In other words: a Virtual Community.
The book also explains how to manege such a community. By builing it up little by little and by letting go at the same time, so that members will over time derive great value from member-generated content.
And best of all: the lay-out of the book ensures easy reading and fast skimming throught the book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Hagel has co-authored two especially important books (with Arthur G. Armstrong III and Marc Singer, respectively), the other being Net Worth "which builds on a number of the themes originally developed" in this volume. As Hagel and Armstrong point out, Net.Gain "systematically [analyzes] the economic drivers for value creation that exist on networks. It [uses] one particular business model -- the virtual community -- to illustrate the unique capabilities of digital networks and how these might be harnessed to create a substantial business with very attractive economics." The material is carefully organized within three Parts: The Real Value of Virtual Communities, Building a Virtual Community, and Positioning to Win the Broader Game. Hagel and Armstrong also provide a "Management Agenda", followed by excellent suggestions for further reading.
In the Preface, Hagel and Armstrong acknowledge three inevitable limitations in writing Net.Gain: "The first arises from the profound uncertainties associated with evolving electronic networks and the myriad business models emerging in the primordial brew known as cycberspace....Second, the need to be concise has led us to make some generalizations about the likely evolution of virtual communities and the key principles for success....Third, we do not expect virtual communities to be the only 'form of life' on public networks. Indeed, many other commercial and non-commercial formats (including dictionaries, market spaces, 'web'zines,' corporate sites and game areas) will thrive on these networks as well." Working within these limitations, Hagel and Armstrong succeed admirably when describing the power and potential of the virtual community concept.
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