The simple answer is YES. In fact, it shouldn’t even be a question anymore. Americans – of all ages – have embraced “social networking in its many contemporary forms: Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, the sharing services like Digg and Reddit, blogging, and yes, Twitter. A marketing campaign or constituent communications tool by any other name would smell as sweet, right?
That’s what my plugged-in lieutenants tell me. One of them sent me a list of advantages last week that ran on for three pages! And unlike Facebook, Twitter seems to have been adopted just as quickly by Gen X as by kids in college. And lots of companies – unable to penetrate Facebook – have been far more successful exploiting the promise and prowess of Twitter.
Tony Hsiah of Zappos tweets and so does Starbucks. And lots of media outlets are doing it as entities. (Can an entity be “social”?)
Big brands and companies have legitimate concerns about security, authenticity and the like. Many CEO’s are insulated and surrounded by legions of PR and Investor Relations troops – not to mention lawyers. I think the term “social networking” often gets in the way. Social and commercial don’t seem to go together. But I think it’s the networking that holds the power. All these so-called 2.0 web services are anchored by the same core principles: personalization; the importance of “influencers” (friend, favorite, followed, follower); instant, viral transmission of ideas and images; transparency and authenticity.
These principles are beyond popular – they are a fact of modern life. For companies and CEO’s in 2009, there is no longer any question over whether they should have a “social networking” strategy. It’s only a question of tactics. And what those of us in business and marketing should call it.
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