Social network platforms prime for thought leadership

As the social network platform continues to grow and evolve with the addition of rich media, so, too, does its use within the marketing mix.

As the social network platform continues to grow and evolve with the addition of rich media, so, too, does its use within the marketing mix.

Mike Walsh, CEO at Leverage Software, a private-label social networking platform that allows companies to build branded communities with the social networking functionalities found on MySpace and Facebook, says these types of platforms do exactly what PR professionals are always trying to do for their clients: get the word out.

He notes that using these platforms allows an agency to position its client as a thought leader because of the dialogue it can create.

"If a PR company can build or enable a community for its clients, [that will] position the client as a thought leader," Walsh explains. "People are going to be coming to the site to answer questions, help each other out, and build relationships with one another."

Walsh notes that PR firms should look to take advantage of such platforms themselves to foster relationships among their clients. And it's a good opportunity for them to practice what they preach.

"They can collaborate on that network with a client, prospect, or someone just looking for advice," he says. "In addition to helping their clients, they can build a community around their own brands."

Mark Sigal, CEO and cofounder of vSocial, a company that combines the social networking platform with rich-media capabilities, says adding video to the platform takes it a step further.

"If a picture is worth 1,000 words, video delivers the full story," he says. "You can convey the context and deliver the whole story to better distribute that message."

Because of the changing nature of marketing, Sigal says any company wanting to maintain meaningful relationships and establish a longstanding dialogue with consumers can do so through video-enabled social networking platforms.

"Any brand that wants to engage with its target audience is going to need to engage in a lifelong conversation with that customer," he notes. "And this can help do it."

Key points:

Social network platforms can help position a brand as an industry thought leader

PR firms can utilize them to create relationships among current clients, as well as attract new ones

The use of video can help establish a deeper connection with consumers

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