The potent strategic tool companies should not attempt to control

World Nutella Day, which took place on February 5, inspired over 40,000 Instagram posts as fans of chocolate-hazelnut spreading posted videos, memes, and jars selfies.

It was free publicity for Nutella maker Ferrero, which nearly squandered the chance when it sent a cease-and – desist letter in 2013 to the fan who began World Nutella Day. The organization backed up, and finally accepted its beloved product’s day of honor.

Organizations devote substantial resources to plan focus groups and collect customer feedback. But, according to Frank Nagle, an assistant professor of strategy at the Harvard Business School, and Sonali K. Shah, associate professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at the University of Illinois, businesses that grow, help or even just observe their fan groups stand to gain valuable insights and create loyalty at a much lower cost.

What Do User Groups Matter To Strategy in a New Working Paper? , Nagle and Shah address the benefits, disadvantages and challenges that businesses are dealing with as they forge user group connections.

User groups can distinguish deals from a company by promoting creativity, improving branding and recognizing recurrent issues. User groups may also reduce costs by offering limited product support – especially for phased-out products and services – or informal recruiting and training support.

Organizations who have yet to connect with user groups but are interested in leveraging additional sources of creativity outside their R&D should set up easy methods to leverage user input. A company may historically provide a suggestion box to engage users but this is one-way communication. In comparison, it would be more effective to create an actual group where users would communicate with each other and the business – and the business can 

interact with users.

Organizations should recognize and clearly observe established cultures, too. They may ultimately interact regularly with the culture, or even create their own, based on what they know.

Companies should bear in mind that societies are regulated very differently from companies. User groups function beyond the company’s borders except in cases where the group is organizing around the core goods of a company––and therefore companies cannot regulate groups by conventional hierarchical methods. We will set rules for attempting to manipulate behavior. Nonetheless, doing so requires that businesses understand and abide by the values of the culture.

A lack of direct control can scare enterprises — and managers in particular — but the difference between success and failure can be that.