Brands embrace online consumer influence

NEW YORK: Peter Rojas, co-founder of social review and technology sites gdgt, Endgadget, and Gizmodo, said Tuesday that he has built his websites to embrace the influence of consumers in the digital space.

NEW YORK: Peter Rojas, co-founder of social review and technology sites gdgt, Endgadget, and Gizmodo, said Tuesday that he has built his websites to embrace the influence of consumers in the digital space. 

“I was a journalist who became a blogger,” he said during a panel discussion at the PRWeek Next conference in New York. “I was blogging for a long time and I reached a point where I felt like the audience was this amazing, untapped resource of expertise and knowledge. What we wanted to do was invert the model and build a platform for the most influential, early adopter enthusiast users of consumer technology to be able to share their knowledge.”

Rojas added that his newest technology review site and online community, gdgt, allows users to have discussions and post comments and questions about new products.  

Jason Gordon, senior director of global communications at HTC, said the mobile phone corporation interacts with its fans on and offline and “really integrates” them into its strategy for building the brand. He said the company used to build relationships with online communities, like Gizmodo and gdgt, but now it has its own platforms.

“We actually host our own communities,” he said. “I think we're one of the few brands around the world that hosts meet-ups. “

Last year, HTC held an event in London where the company tried to get 200 fans to attend a product launch by mentioning it on social media channels, Gordon said. By the end of the day, more than 1,000 consumers came out for the launch.

Alison Schwartz, SVP of consumer engagement at Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, said the most successful brands are the ones that connect with consumers and fans in a relevant way and where they're the most active, which is often the digital world.

“I think the more that brands can emotionally connect to their consumers, even if they're a small brand with a niche market, are the brands that are going to end up being strongest and have the longest staying power,” she explained.

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