Internet has given way to new means of communication and interaction between people situated across the globe, breaking down the barriers of distance, time and borders. Technology has made it possible for people not only to talk to one another, but participate in a lot of activities together as a group. Thus group activities or the so called networks in the language of social web media are growing and discovering the concept of collective wisdom as an outcome of group discussions on any subject. Social web consists of several channels including Blogs, Forums, Photo/Video Sharing, Music sharing, Emails, Chatting, SMS, Podcasting, Micro blogs and wikis etc. Facebook, Youtube, Linkedin, Farmville, Wikipedia etc are some of the best known faces of social web.
For anyone in marketing, social web is something that he or she needs to understand not only as a participant but more importantly as a marketing professional representing his or her Organization. The social web and the networks of people consists of the existing customers and the prospective customers who would be exchanging information, discussing their experiences as consumers and thus helping the prospective customers build their awareness as well as influence their purchasing decisions.
When it comes to understanding the behavior of the participants and groups involved in any of the social media channels, one must first visit the various channels to see the kind of network that exists. In some of the channels, you will find individuals talking to other individuals and chatting. There exist discussions amongst group members regarding one common topic under blogs and forums. You will also find inter group discussions and one group talking to another and debating about issues and topics too. All of these groups and networks command power to influence the outcome of the discussions and the opinions. Therefore understanding the group dynamics and identifying the controlling, influencing as well as moderating elements and factors would come in handy while designing strategy to participate and influence the discussions from the point of view of marketing.
One Of the most important and powerful aspect of the discussions amongst the groups and in between the groups is that they are able to build intelligent arguments and factual content by filtering, wetting and helping others make informed choice as well as strengthening the consumers bargaining power. The fact that it is easy to gather all information just by asking questions and being able to understand everything about a product that there is to know about and having access to those who have used the product and others who are able to throw light and help with right decision making is what makes people flock to the social web with their needs and requirements. Individuals find it worthwhile to discuss and gather information about the products and services they are interested in and at the same time enjoy socializing in a manner of speaking.
Marketers would do well to remember that when it comes to Social Web, it is not what the Marketer chooses to advertise and inform the customers that matters, but it is the actual experience and opinion of the customers who are participating in the social media networks and discussing with the others that matters. As a marketer one has the power to influence the discussion and how well one can win the trust and confidence of the group depends upon the strategy and implementation of the communication plan. This in turn calls for a complete hands on understanding of and presence in the social web all the time as well as being able to read the pulse of the group at all times.
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