As a 21-year-old college senior I am well versed in the ways of social networking sites. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn—I’ve used them all. However, in one of my public relations classes, I read a book called Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies and it got me thinking about how powerful social networking actually is. So I started paying more attention. I stumbled upon a video on YouTube that seemed to show the power of social networking that the book introduced.
I began to see that social networking sites including ratings, reviews, wikis, and many more have become increasingly important to consumers. Not only do they use them to stay connected with friends and family, but they are also starting to use them to make purchasing decisions. And how consumers make purchasing decisions has always been important to advertisers and public relations professionals. People are looking to these sites to get feedback and opinions from REAL people about products, services and companies. Through reading Groundswell and doing some research, I found that people trust other people, even complete strangers, more than they trust a direct advertisement from a company. This being said, social networking sites provide a huge and brand new platform for companies to reach their consumers. Social networking sites are a natural step forward in branding and public relations and advertising campaigns. These sites are all about reputation. Whether it is personal or for a company, sites such as Facebook and Twitter are all about branding. People use these platforms to show their interests and experiences (all part of a personal branding). Employers are even looking at Facebook and LinkedIn profiles to make decisions on potential employers, so the kind of personal branding on these sites is becoming increasingly important. If personal branding on these sites is becoming more important, than it is logical that a company’s brand on social networking sites is also becoming increasingly important. Using social networking sites is a great way to show your consumers that you are transparent, personable and approachable (all things that they would want in a friend). And consumers can feel more connected to your brand.
I found that another HUGE reason for companies to become involved in social networking activity is that people tell it like it is on these sites. Positive and especially negative experiences with products, services, and even companies will show up on people’s social networking profiles. We’ve all seen a nasty comment on Facebook or Twitter about a restaurant or a new product that people bought and were disappointed in. As a company, you are always trying to find out what your consumers are saying about you, and these sites provide an easy and free way to see what your consumers are actually thinking. So listen, respond, and interact.
Through reading Groundswell and through personal experience, I’ve found that social networking is a huge force and companies need to be a part of it if they want to move forward. And who better than Rise Innovations to get you connected in this new media revolution. Our generation spends hours on these sites; we certainly know how they work and the power that they hold.