Online communities and the types of interactions they foster are why the branded online community has become a critical marketing channel for many. According to Wikipedia, an online community is an online social network of individuals who interact with one another to pursue common interests. Among companies that have online communities, the reported benefits include improved customer support quality, a better understanding of customer and prospect needs, higher user engagement, a more loyal customer base, and better cross promotion effectiveness. Research from Forrester indicates 60% of those surveyed have a branded online community and 15% were planning to add one in the following 12 months (1). Why has a branded online community become such a strategic aspect of marketing? We asked clients, partners and industry leaders what are the primary drivers for their companies. Here we share the top five reasons why a branded online community is so important.