As social networking continues to creep into different niche communities, PR pros keep expanding the ways in which they can make use of these sites. The latest arrival on the scene is social network shopping, where an individual typically answers a series of questions and the site determines a selection of gifts that person would like and displays them for friends to see.
Sites like kuladoo.com, gifts. com, and paramountzone.com, have all incorporated some version of this new social networking practice, though it's too soon to say whether the future is here as far as shopping is concerned.
What is sure, however, is that the sites can provide significant amounts of information to PR people who might otherwise have to pay for expensive research for the very same numbers.
"As far as PR for trendsetting, it's great," says Heddi Cundle of Consort Partners. "To see what trends are developing, which direction the industry is going in, and how people evolve over the course of a year it might really be helpful."
Cundle notes that while Facebook has enjoyed the majority of press attention, there are restrictions to the site and as new venues appear, the more information will likely be available to cull for people in marketing, PR, and advertising.
Sabrina Horn, president and CEO of the Horn Group, says her recent work for clubmom.com, a social networking site for mothers, helped her realize how helpful the information mined from social networking sites could be. That information, she says, gave her new ideas to pitch to a magazine, trends to pitch out to the blogosphere and graphics to pitch to newspapers.
"It's definitely at the forefront of the work we're doing because we now have data we wouldn't otherwise," Horn says. "The client would have paid money to researchers to call people and ask people questions and you don't need to do that anymore."
- Social networking shopping helps collect information about consumers that might otherwise be difficult to get
- Information can give PR pros new ideas to pitch to the media
- Niche social networking communities can provide specific information that can't be obtained through general communities