I run a webstore, which means that I get very targeted audiences to my website. They will often even specify their interest by doing searches, or by looking at certain items. Mostly they are only looking, not buying, which is fine of course. Lately I have been wondering whether these targeted visitors could not be used to launch "microsites" related to certain products or product groups.
Take for example a person who searches for "dir en grey", then looks at products from the band dir en grey. Clearly they are quote interested in this band. Perhaps I could tell them "hey have you checked this fanpage for the band?". This could be a very relevant thing to say, and when things are relevant they tend to not be irritating. The trick of course would be that these fansites would actually be sites that I have launched myself (perhaps clearly indicated by being a subdomain of my site, say dir-en-grey.bemmu.com). They would become destinations in themselves, possibly growing and sending back more traffic to the webstore than I originally sent to them, also being nice baits for Google to index.
The microsites could contain a standard feature set and customized skin. For example a forum for talking about dir en grey, but with a forum template showing the dir en grey members. Forums have the effect of getting people to come back to check if their posts have been answered. Another good one is quizzes, which tend to be viral since people like to post the results on their homepages or recommend the quizzes to their friends.
Of course this is nothing new, there are plenty of dir en grey fansites out there, but I would like to make the process of launching these microsites very organized. All the sites would actually share one codebase. There might be 100 different microsites for different bands or manga series for example, but only one forum software running, customized to display a different skin for different audiences, but only requiring one login to use any of those sites. Same for the quizzes or possibly other features. The skins might have been outsourced somewhere, quizzes could be created by the users.
This whole idea might be impossible in that a certain amount of manual labor is always required for the maintenance of those sites. Forums need moderators. Quizzes also need moderation, since if they can be freely created by users there can be inappropriate content. Still by being clever I imagine that I could organize the creation of such microsites to be more efficient than the normal work of creating a fansite (of course these would not really be fansites in the traditional sense, but feature-wise they would be the same).
Amazon and other big webstores might be missing a great opportunity when they are only pushing products at the visitors, where they could be pushing communities as well.