Closed Brand Community Firm Passenger Calls Amex, JC Penney, MySpace Clients

passengerlogo.gifWhen I last wrote about brand community platform Passenger in February, the firm was squarely focused on the consumer-aimed uses of its system. Clients like Nestle, Coca-Cola, ABC Television and Sara Lee were using Passenger to enable private brand communities to conduct product or ad research with brand fans.

Passenger has shifted its client base to include companies using its system for internal purposes. Think Intranet meets work wiki meets social network. Apple and BP are among clients using the platform to share ideas, innovate, improve efficiencies, etc. “It’s a lot easier for [clients] to embrace that,” said Passenger Marketing Officer Justin Cooper of the new internal business use of the platform.

There are some interesting new clients utilizing Passenger to harness insights of consumers, though. MySpace, for instance, is a customer; although Cooper wouldn’t share a lot about how his firm works with the social site, he did hint. In Q1, the two companies expect to make some sort of announcement. There’s a chance it could involve the ability for brand community members to add widgets to their profile pages to gather comments about brands and products from their MySpace networks of friends.

Among the latest consumer-aimed clients are JC Penney, American Express and Fidelity. JC Penney has recently created an online community for its Ambrielle lingerie brand.

According to Cooper, companies can qualify audiences participating in private brand communities, making sure they’re diversified appropriately. Also, community members can be invited to participate in certain discussions according to age and geography, for instance.

Passenger also weighs the value of a member’s comments and opinions according to its “Influence Predictability Rating” algorithm and uses filters to surface certain issues discussed among brand community members.

Cooper agreed with me that brand aficionados often are the harshest critics. In light of that, he noted use of the platform allows companies to learn about a brand community‘s concerns behind closed doors, rather than throwing an idea to the public Web wolves. “It’s an opportunity to treat those people as a new conquest,” he said.

UPDATE: To be clear, Passenger is still working with Nestle, Coca-Cola, ABC Television and Sara Lee.

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