Beyond being one of the sexiest brand communities, Nike Plus has tapped into intuitively what its target audience loves to do - compete.
To compete against each other, to compete as teams, to compete against themselves. Most Nike runners would not stop for a picket line, parade or nudist protest - they are just that committed to their run.
In fact, marketers and businesses don't get a lot of the finer points of building and managing communities, getting people to compete is not one of them (think promotions, contests and sweepstakes - we sometimes view our consumers as willing lemmings to do almost anything for a tshotcke) ...just Nike does it better.
As you can see my Nike Plus' community (pictured above), there are so many platforms of competition on their web 2.0 portal to the world. Rivalry, challenges and leaderboards all stoke people's need for participation and help build tribal reputation.
Specific features on Nike's site:
Personal Challenges - the ability to select an adversary/friendly partner and create a competitive distance or pace challenge and also get in on the nastier public forum TrashTalk
Team Challenges - pull together a gaggle of joggers and wage a competition against another set of short shorts-wearing individuals
Community Goals - have a group compete in pursuit of a common distance goal
Personal Resolutions -get people to come back again and again to see how they are faring against their monthly or annual targets
Leaderboard - a world run, rankings chart of the top people who have run by week, by month and ever (top member in the world has run 24,000+ kilometres ... impressive!) sortable by duration, distance and pace and gender, age and geography, very cool
Distance Club - see members and give props to those who have met their distance milestones - 250km, 1000km, 2000km, 4000km and 6000km
Widgets - very robust downloadable desktop widgets for your challenges and performance
My only feedback for the Nike team would be to do four things:
1) Profile the top performing or most interesting people on their community - highlight their efforts in a much deeper way and create a better level of personalization and grassroots connectedness than currently available on their site (as they had to a certain degree with their 2008 Human Race blog) ..also I'd love to know if there are any explicit incentives (free shoes, customized merchandise or exclusive experiences) for performance beyond the call
2) Allow more runner-generated activity to bubble up to the front page - yes, they do have a really well designed tracker of recent stuff on the front page and a clutter free, almost perfect design, I'd just love to see a leaderboard and more populated front page of the wealth of activity coming in from their 1.2 million community members and 72,000 runs tracked in the alst 24 hours
3) Extending their presence out in the social media universe - how difficult would it to integrate Facebook, Twitter and other globally relevant sites in addition to providing a supportive blog
But this is quibbling - for competition reasons and sexy looks, you'd be hardpressed to find a community better than Nike Plus. Now attack....
Let me know if you've run across other communities with competitive features. And stay tuned here for #3 in our continuing series of Community features - Customization - gold standard features that enhance member personalization (please provide thoughts in advance here).