PRWeek Echoes our Earlier Sentiments on Niche Social Networks

PRWeek just posted a story about our client Sermo’s deal with Pfizer, and how it might impact the model for the social network business. Author Marc Longpre also has some interesting thoughts around the revenue models – echoing our blog post earlier this week about niche social networking sites and their strong potential for bringing new value to the online community phenomenon.

Two New Social Networking Lessons from – and for – PR

Two developments in social networking this week teach us more PR lessons – first and foremost, don’t forget the transparency!

 

1) Facebook/Microsoft – While the market was abuzz with a battle between Microsoft and Google over Facebook on Wednesday, a PR representative from Facebook “leaked” the deal by posting a new “friend” on her Facebook page. That friend just so happened to be Adam Sohn, who heads up global sales and marketing PR at Microsoft. ValleyWag – always the innovative thinkers – used this as enough confirmation of the rumors.

 

2) Your written PR pitches are on display – make sure they are quality! Marshall Kirkpatrick, lead writer at Read/WriteWeb (and a consultant in new online software and marketing), highlights in a late Wednesday blog five PR pitches he’s recently received that not only had the opposite effect of grabbing his interest but, collectively, impassioned him to post them for critique on his blog – with names. Yikes.

 

The lessons here? Social media is by its very nature transparent – what you put out there can be reposted, repurposed and on display for anyone to research critique, link to and comment on – forever. Make sure you are sending quality communications that you can stand behind. Learn and abide by unspoken etiquettes of the communities, engage in using social media intelligently, and moreover, give reporters more than just “stuff” regardless of the vehicle in which you choose to communicate.

 

You’re busy, right? Imagine how busy they are – and how many pitches they have to read through in a day. If you want to connect, do it only when you know you’ve got something good – or maybe when you don’t want anything at all (old fashioned relationship building) – and give them quality, concise and personally relevant information (no one blasts generic email pitches these days…right??).

Are We Too Old for Facebook?

We are doing a lot of work on the social networking front here at PerkettPR – training workshops, new hires/social media staff and holding some really valuable analyst and media discussions. We’re following Forrester Research as you know, and their Groundswell activities, as well as watching closely for great examples of business use of social media. Many of these include YouTube and LinkedIn and some are extending campaigns to Facebook, MySpace and others.

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 don’t totally agree – we think some of his thoughts on the use of these sites are short sighted – it’s interesting to think about. (For example, he states “I am not trying to keep the 50-something, married software engineer away from the 17-year old coed cheerleader majoring in Art History—although maybe I should be.” We don’t’ think that’s what professionals are focusing on with their use of these sites – and can’t the two co-exist without crossing paths? For example, if we’re trying to reach high school students for a campaign, isn’t it better that we are involved in and understand the medium that we are using?)

We believe that social networking will continue to evolve as an industry and, while Facebook may not launch a separate site as Dan suggests, it has inspired many new sites that do provide a more laser focus on specific issues and groups. For example, our client Sermo focuses on medical doctors, other focused sites already exist for PR professionals, the town you live in and various hobbies – even venture capitalism, as today’s Boston Globe reported on next month’s launch of VentureNetwork.vc, an online social network for professionals looking for another channel to connect and talk shop. The user numbers on these sites may not reach Facebook’s level, but as we all continue to figure out the value and monetary possibilities for such communities, the value will increase regardless of the numbers – camaraderie, additional support and encouragement, new networks, collective insight and more are invaluable.

For example, Guy Kawasaki wrote a great blog post at AlwaysOn regarding how one of the less-understood social networking tools, Twitter, can add value today. Many people out there don’t get the value of Twitter (we just started exploring this ourselves) and may say, as Dan does about MySpace and Facebook, that it’s a better 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.

Boston Bloggers Dinner Was Invaluable

A few of us attended the Boston Blogger Dinner at Rattlesnake last night – hosted by EMC and Jeremiah Owyang (former blogger now turned Forrester analyst – cool).

It was a great event! I was blown away by the awesome passion and intelligence in the room. So many of these folks have “chucked” their day jobs (realtor, designer, marketer, etc.) and found a way to monetize their interest in social media. It was really inspiring to meet everyone and they convinced me to join the Twitter community – for which I am so grateful (although it can be too addicting, it’s a great resource community already).

We met a couple of great BU students who are, unfortunately for us, interns at another PR company (although we don’t hire interns). I was really interested by their passion and foresight – how many University students have had the insight to post thoughtful commentary and content on their Facebook page rather than simply party pictures or to join a Boston Bloggers Dinner in lieu of local bar hopping with their classmates? These ladies – Amanda and Amanda impressed us enough to make us reconsider our stance on accepting interns at the firm. They were bright, engaged and very plugged in – who couldn’t benefit from working with them?

We met a few people who we had wanted to connect with after reading their blogs. Julia Patricia Roy, Carlie Flossberg and Laura Athavale Fitton – all super smart ladies rocking the social media world.

For more photos:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffglasson/sets/72157602524956994/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeremiah_owyang/sets/72157602518854364/

 

Talking Shop