The benefits of social media “Groundswell”

March 24, 2009 at 6:35 am (1) (, )

Social bookmarking tools, such as Digg and Delicious, are changing the way people are using the internet.  These sites offer a place where one can bookmark, monitor internet dialogue and keep tabs on favourite blogs or web sites.  They also alert you when a site or blog has been updated and allow you to share your tabs with others.

 In Shamus McGillicuddy’s article: “Social Bookmarking: Pushing collaboration to the edge,” he explores how social bookmarking allows people to put an identity to connecting with people online.  He gives the example that if someone tags the same sites, or has similar interests as him he is drawn to want to meet them.

In my experience with Delicious, I have been able to get my information quickly and in non-conventional ways.  I essentially type in a keyword about what I’m looking for, and see what others are tagging on the topic.  Not only does this weed out the countless hours of searching the web for the information, but it allows me to literally keep tabs on what is being said and by whom.  

Suthan Mookaiah’s article: 4 irresistible benefits of social bookmarking he claims that this “trend in cyber space comes with a lot of benefits that you don’t want to miss out on.”  The benefits, as they are listed in the post, are: quick indexing; traffic generation; personal branding and quality backlinks.  As he notes, the best way to have any web site indexed and on major search engines is to post it on social bookmarking sites.   This works like bait to attract others to a personal site. 

Traffic generation practically guarantees that a site you tag is visited.  And, as the author mentions, if there is useful information on the site it will likely be visited again.

Personal branding on social bookmarking sites can be achieved by creating a profile, or your own page on the site.  These sites provide a way to network and establish yourself.  This works cohesively with generating traffic as the larger your network of taggers becomes, the more traffic you will generate.

Finally, there is quality backlinks.  This is when your personal page is visited by search engines that will index your site through following links from other sites. 

Therefore, in my opinion, without social bookmarking you can potentially lose on the opportunity to generate traffic to personal sites.  As a soon-to-be PR professional, generating traffic to my blog, confessions of a social media newbie, can be used as an effective networking and personal marketing tool.

 In the book “Groundswell,” by Charlene Li and John Bernoff, call online tools like Digg, twitter, facebook, blogs and other evolving and trendy social media sites, groundswell.  They advocate that companies should adjust to this new way of monitoring business and take advantage of it.  One thing to consider is the change in consumer behaviour.  The authors argue that the groundswell surrounding social media offers people to get more from each other, rather than traditional ways of conducting business. 

 For a business, participating in the groundswell, and truly listening to what people are commenting about, can place you ahead of the competition.  Social media helps people identify with a brand, while creating a PR dream because it creates buzz about the company.  I do believe however, the groundswell is certainly a force to be reckoned with. 

I strongly urge any company interested in using groundswell to promote and market to proceed with caution. If it is done incorrectly, it can easily backfire on the company.  However, if done correctly, you can have millions of people discussing your company.  Free promotion, without the in-your-face advertising.  

Another important point for companies to keep in mind is to constantly update your profile.  Blogs, twitter and Facebook should regularly be updated to avoid a stale image.  The groundswell at that point, becomes counter-active and begins to turn and spawn negative information about a company.  If the groundswell is to be used, it should be productive social interaction, not pointless. 

I find that most companies are on twitter and Facebook just for the sake of joining.  My main issue with that is they are generally posting information that is unrelated to their brand.  Business’ need to keep in mind that their brand needs to be at the forefront of their efforts, not aimless posts with little or no content behind them.  Most importantly, the company needs to monitor what is being said to know whether to continue or abandon the groundswell movement.

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