The technological world is ever changing, and businesses need to keep up to avoid being left in the dust. There are a few ways that social media and social networking sites can benefit a company, business, or brand. Namely, PR 2.0 can help a company become more integrated with tech savvy individuals and can also increase brand / company awareness, online and off. Due to the connection of internet and other forms of media, having an online presence can greatly increase the likelihood that it will transcend into another form of media.
There are a few sites that can help a firm trying to break into the PR 2.0 world. For example, LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter are all popular and widely used networking sites. More and more people are joining these sites; they are no longer simply for teenagers or college students. More companies and people from older generations are now joining, creating a very large social network, connecting millions of individuals. What a great way to reach audiences, worldwide!
With so many individuals on these sites, it is almost expected that a brand or company be on them as well. It is a simple and easy way to increase your brand's reach. It can also help a company with a large following of loyal customers to potentially grow that loyal customer base more. Loyal customers, 'fans' if you will, are apt to talk about your brand.
With the ability for anyone to Tweet, blog, and comment, major shifts of power are occurring. Consumers are being given more of a voice since opinions and thoughts can be shared more readily and to a wider range of readers. Equipped with tools such as Tweetdeck, consumers can Tweet and share with millions of people, including some of their friends, what brands they love and why. However, bad news is sooner to travel much faster than good news. Which is why having an online presence is necessary for companies of today. You bought to be available to talk about a rumor, comment, or statement about your company.
Use these sites to keep customers and prospective customers up-to-date with your product, ventures, and overall company going-ons. This sort of partnership makes a company more, 'real', or personable. Be honest and up-front with what your intentions are. Or, do not do what Wal-Mart did with their astroturf "blog".
The reason attempts like astroturfing do not work can possibly be attributed to that fact that it assumes that consumers are completely ignorant. Once the astroturfing efforts are discovered, as they usually are, customers can tell when you were calling them stupid and assuming they would not notice. Admittedly, consumers are a little naive when it comes to some things, but perhaps it is a lack of interest or concern, and therefore we are ignorant for another reason. For instance, many consumers did not care about where our goods came from, unless of course it was imported fashion from Italy, or imported wine from France. But, when something happens to infringe upon our homeland or seemingly impede on our "freedom", we seem to magically have pride for the products made in the good old US of A. Similar to newfound pride in American goods, customers will not appreciate your astroturfing, and will most likely find pride in other goods. Although some consumers will take things at face value, it's really not worth taking that chance.
On another note, using these social networking sites can help your causes. There are a lot of ways to get users involved, such as contests, fundraisers, and other events that can occur online or off. These tools are the face of the future, as well as the present. Just remember, your online representation is what more people will ever see or know. Enter at your own risk.
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