Every day it seems that a new social networking tool becomes available. Facebook, Bebo, MySpace and the more recent Twitter. The world is constantly waiting with bated breath- wondering what form the next online phenomenon will take.
Each additional social media or networking device makes life even harder for business owners. Back in 'ye olde' days, a company would have had time to reply to an accusation or a negative comment. In most cases, you would hear from a journalist, asking you about the rumour. You would then hopefuly get the opportunity to take stock and put forward your side of the argument before the story ended up as front page news. Sometimes you would even be able to stop the article ever seeing the light of day...
However, nowadays everyone is a journalist. People are constantly connecting and passing on information, through blogs, online forums, news sharing pages and social networking sites. If something is said, whether it is about a business or an individual, whether it is positive or negative, it can be dispersed across the web within a matter of seconds.
Businesses need to be aware of how information is being communicated now. It is vitally important that companies are monitoring the different online tools and know how to respond when they are mentioned in the conversation. Even better would be if businesses were consistently contributing to the online discussion, building up trust with their audiences and sharing knowledge that is both beneficial and relevant to them.
This is a great blog entry on the issue from Harold Burson, one of the world's most influential PR figures and founding chairman of international PR agency, Burson-Marsteller. If this amazing man in his mid-80s understands the crucialness of being part of the online conversation, then no-one has any excuse not to be using these tools to their best advantage!