Can social networking add value to PR?

As the PR and marketing world continues to investigate the possibilities of social networking as part of potential campaigns, everyone is watching closely for great examples of business use of social media.

As the PR and marketing world continues to investigate the possibilities of social networking as part of potential campaigns, everyone is watching closely for great examples of business use of social media. Examples include YouTube and LinkedIn and even campaigns on Facebook, MySpace, and others. It's no wonder PR is struggling to find good examples – even Forrester Research has mentioned the challenge of good b-to-b examples while conducting its Groundswell activities.
A few weeks ago, Dan Costa of PC Magazine, wrote about social networking and indicated that perhaps some of the more popular of these sites do not hold credible value for the over-30 crowd. His column, "MySpace is Not Your Space," provides a guideline (his opinion) on who should be on which site.

While we can probably all agree that mixing the 50-year-old professional with the 17-year-old high school cheerleader is not the best use of these communities, social networking will continue to evolve as the industry uses Facebook for inspiration. Many new sites that provide more of a laser focus on specific issues and groups continue to pop up and provide new avenues for PR and marketing efforts. For example, Sermo focuses on medical doctors and other sites already exist for PR professionals, the town you live in, and various hobbies – even venture capitalism, as a recent Boston Globe article reported regarding next month's launch of VentureNetwork.vc, an online social network for professionals looking for another channel to connect and talk shop.

Guy Kawasaki's
recent blog post at AlwaysOn discussed how one of the less-understood social networking tools, Twitter, can add value today. Many people believe Twitter is nothing more than a gossip tool for the younger crowd with time on their hands. Guy shows that it's so much more – already driving “tens of thousands of page views,” debunking rumors, and extending networks. And, since no one person seems to really have the answers on social networking's value to business – yet – keep exploring, keep "trialing" and keep sharing your insights.

Chris Perkett is president and founder of PerkettPR

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