Using Social Networking Sites to Your Advantage


Public relations changed when the Internet came into play. Now, with more and more people getting online, having your own online presence is important and at times vital.

Here are a few things to consider when launching a social networking PR plan:

1.) This is not intended to be advertising. Most people (your customers) are on these networking sites to talk with friends, share things they like, and network with people. Your role on these sites is to remind people you are around and that you are an active participant in their world.

2.) Being an active participant does not mean advertising yourself. Instead, contribute to forums, comment on blogs, and join groups. As a company, create a group in your industry that offers resources for members. Encourage others to get involved as well; people love sharing their opinions, so make sure they know they are welcome. (They may assume it anyways, but knowing that it is the case always helps.)

3.) Offering benefits to joining your network is always great incentive. You don't have to bribe everyone, but if you show yourself as being genuine and helpful to others in the industry whether they be customers or professionals, they are likely to spread the word for you. For example, offer some helpful advice, write articles, make it so people can ask you questions, and be active.

4.) Being genuine is a great way to get others to trust you. We all know that your end goal is to make a sale (or increase your traffic, whatever you cause may be), but by coming across differently, consumers can accept that you may really have their best intentions at heart. As such, convey yourself honestly.

5.) If you want to forgo representing yourself in a more professional manner, consider creating a social networking site for a company mascot, such as the Gil the crab from the Honda Element campaign, who has a MySpace and over 58,000 friends. Although Honda's ads are all over the page, people add Gil to their network because the character works, and people enjoy him. They may even love Honda, and just want to show that to their present network. Either way, humor works in many ways.

People who love your brand will find you, and tell others about you, especially if there is something useful or beneficial once they get there. Incorporate current events in your industry to help drive traffic, and be honest when consumers interact with you. If something comes up that shines a negative light on your company, don't ignore it and only reply to the positive things. Rather, reply and, if at fault, apologize, accept responsibility, and provide a remedy. Otherwise, help set the story straight (without pointing fingers), and move on to the next question. Encourage people to get in touch with you, offer advice as consumers, and leave feedback on the forums and blog posts you create. You build your own online credibility, so start taking action.

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