ComPRehension

Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
April 28, 2008

Learning the Secrets of Engaging Mass Audiences on Top Social Networks


If you are like most of the marketing and communication professionals I talk to regularly, you are probably thinking about the impact of top social networking sites on your company, your projects and your job description.

How do you go from contemplating a plan of action to producing tangible results?

First, understand the difference between “broadcast” and “social” distribution. Broadcast is defined as any traditional media, such as TV and print and includes “central-to-many” online communication, such as corporate Web sites, blogs or e-mail newsletters. Social is a new term uniting and replacing concepts known as word-of-mouth, buzz and viral marketing.

Why a new term? Because top social networking sites are transforming into social network application platforms (SNAP), with Facebook leading the way. SNAP provides a structured environment for creating applications that spread through existing friend networks via member profiles and targeted messages. Distribution can be tracked and tuned at every step along the way. Minor tweaks can make a difference between a flatline and explosive growth.

For example, a “Pink Ribbon” application sponsored by Susan G. Komen Foundation reached over 3 million by recruiting them to the cause of fighting breast cancer. Achieving such a feat requires skills beyond traditional marketing and Web design into social psychology, incentive design and viral loop optimization. You can find further details on my company’s new Facebook page for Starfish Apps.

To succeed as a marketer it is critical to understand what really drives users of these sites to log in and communicate on a regular basis. To learn the opportunities and challenges of marketing in this environment there is no substitute for becoming a user yourself and walking the talk. If you are not yet on Facebook, join now and connect with your real-life contacts. Yes, your friends are already there.

Dmitriy Kruglyak is CEO of Starfish Apps and Trusted.MD, a social network for healthcare consumers, professionals and organizations. Trusted.MD has evolved as a natural outgrowth of The Medical Blog Network, the world’s largest community of healthcare bloggers.  He chaired the Healthcare Blogging Summits and coordinated development of HealthTrain, the “Open Healthcare Manifesto.” Dmitriy also co-produced the first systematic study of healthcare blogger opinion and demographics. Prior to getting involved in health social media, Dmitriy held a variety of product development and marketing positions in the software industry.

Social distribution is emerging as a new quantitative marketing science, so join Kruglyak, along with Ben Garret and Deborah Saline, APR, Fellow PRSA and learn more on his new PRSA teleseminar, Harnessing Rich Media and Social Distribution: How to Create Engagement Campaigns with Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and SecondLife, on Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at 3:00 p.m. ET!

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