11 November 2008

Harness the power of social media

In 2006, ‘YOU’ the public were honoured as the ‘Person of the year’ by the Times magazine reserved reminder wishes again and again. Enabled by the power of technology you are connecting to your friends across the world and sharing your views, blogs, pictures, videos and audio. This week we are to explore the power of this social interaction sphere that we have all built together and see what effect it has in our public relations.

Businesses can longer neglect the power of not just the online world but also the prominence of the social media, as their customers are already there. They are actively discussing their purchase plans, soliciting opinions of customers. Their conversations are live and genuine and are happening in multi-dimensions. Increasingly products launches are hot themes and your first customers can blog their experiences or even upload videos of problems and safety concerns.

There are sceptics as well as well wishers for any product or service offered and their presence online is almost uncontrolled. It is high time for businesses to listen to these social media conversations and perhaps join them too in a healthy manner.

Take for example the ongoing presidential campaigns. It is possible to read the entire biography and professional background about potentials candidates. Their debates are recorded and available online so the world can watch even the winks and reply with their interpretations. Election fund campaigns treat the Internet as yet another strong media (almost at par with press, radio television and movies) and launch advertisements as seed news.

Paparazzi closely follow candidate’s lives and post candid pictures on Flickr and SnapFish. Blogspotting discussions are almost a requirement in this scenario to fit the puzzle pieces and reveal the true identity and vision of candidate. Even the print media looks up to the online media for real-time follow-up. They are also present in the social media like Facebook, MySpace and some of them have hyper-active behaviour in the blogger’s world.

Motivated by the rate of increase in the number of people in the online media and their increased interactions and social content, it is time to adapt to this revolution and feed it right. Social media can be used as a trial launch platform or as a marketing and public relations tool. Online tools have the power to build communities and it is very simple to enter this virtual world and it costs nothing to host your home-brewed content in the social media.

Like birds of a feather, flocking together these communities are bound by common expertise or interest or even background. So it is relatively simple for businesses to test this within a limited audience with very little investment. The idea is to evaluate the relevant social media and approach it with a strategic plan. Web 2.0 has give a plethora of options to customise your message to suit your target audience.

Technology has also simple and free online tools to prepare your messages in a range of formats and offer specific messages to a particular community of people at specific instances in time. Marketers must also include online branding as a part of their strategy and launch suitable media. As a study on blog-reading reveals that on an average one out of every four online visitors are in the blog world, it is necessary to be choosy.

So as a final word your customers are potentially at your finger tips and get online with them with your offerings and have a healthy interaction in the digital world. But is one big world and so choose your community and truly be active in this digital groups.

With about 9 million blogs and 2 million videos available online, it is to time for you to think about Facebook, Youtube, MySpae, Orkut, LiveJournal, Wordpress, Ustream, Mixx, Digg, Reddit, Bebo, Twitter, Eventful, Epinion, Imeem and del.icio.us as part of your profession and live a Secondlife. By the way, all these are websites related to social media and see you too there until we meet again through Digital Oman.

This week’s web-link is http://mashable.com/2008/03/19/ebooks-social-media/ where you find 15 e-books all about social-media.

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