Social Networking: A New Paradigm for Conservatives
By: Nathan Tabor
The paradigm of Internet communications has presented marketing, advertising and public relations professionals with a cost-effective tool that garners enormous exposure at minimal cost.
The advent of social networking web sites — Facebook.com, Myspace.com, Twitter.com and the like — is changing the way profit-making enterprises and non-profit organizations achieve their goals of increasing consumers or memberships or donations.
The following are examples of businesses, news media organizations, Christian churches and ministries, and entrepreneurs who have capitalized on the top social-networking web sites:
1. Nicholas Collard, a New York City stockbroker uses an off-shoot of Twitter.com called StockTwits.com.
Here’s his experience in his own words: “StockTwits.com is a great example of where the Internet and money come together nicely. I stumbled across StockTwits.com and have now decided that this is one of the greatest online companions an eTrader can have.
“The idea behind this site is the same as Twitter.com. It’s essentially nothing more than an online text messenger that allows you to update friends on your status throughout the day. The difference being that this site is pitched to the trading community and messages are focused on stock moves.
“The site doesn’t have many features, and I love it for that. The beauty is the simplicity. Messages are short and allow a person to read at a glance several interesting bits of stock information from various sources. The structure and design is professional and just snazzy enough to pull in the hipsters as well. Who knows, something like this might not only pull traders into social networking, it might pull social networkers into trading as well.” www.StockTwits.com
2. Fox News Channel attributes its success of being Number One to its accessibility to the public/news consumers. One of the most successful uses of Twitter.com by a major corporation is News Corps’ utilization of Twitter to instantly communicate with viewers and obtain instant feedback about news segments and topics.
“Twitter offers unique opportunities for the enhancement and expansion of traditional marketing and social media marketing campaigns. We saw companies and savvy Internet marketers coming up with new ways to use Twitter to their advantage and Fox News Channel has used Twitter and Facebook to increase its viewership. Viewers become partners, not just consumers and audience members,” said FNC news anchor Jon Scott. www.Twitter.com
3. Dale Tadlock, the 41-year-old associate pastor at First Baptist Church of Waynesboro, Virginia, has been involved in student ministry for 20 years. He said he stays linked with students by using Facebook.
“It has given me a great opportunity to work with students,” Tadlock said. “It’s become a way to stay informed.” He even does visitation by means of the site. When newcomers fill out visitors’ cards at his youth group meetings, many mark Facebook as the best way to contact them. www.Facebook.com
4. The Wall Street Journal is borrowing elements from popular Internet hangouts like Facebook as it seeks to boost usage.
WSJ.com, one of the few news sites to restrict many of its stories to paying subscribers, is changing its layout to help nonpaying visitors navigate and identify free, ad-supported content. Those visitors will see a different home page from users who sign in as subscribers.
5. Tinu Abayomi-Pau founded the very successful FreeTrafficTip.com several years ago. She has a very positive story to tell: Her successful use of FaceBook.com as a marketing tool:
“Networking at Facebook can be like hanging out at a neighborhood mixer. Yeah, you might want to mention that you’re a handyman, or that you work at the bank, and give someone your card, but you don’t want to turn those first few getting-to-know-you conversations into a sales pitch.
“Let them know who you are, what you do, and after a few conversations, send them a no-strings coupon for them or a friend “just in case you ever need it buddy” and go on being friends. They’ll remember you if you keep in touch, and are a nice enough guy.
“Does your company have an RSS-capable site that updates frequently? If it does, a profile on Facebook gives you another place to share your RSS link. You can import your blog posts going forward, or summaries. There are also applications like NetworkedBlogs that will help your blog posts get exposure from interested readers.”www.FaceBook.com
6. StirMovies.com is a public relations firm specializing in film marketing and publicity. They utilize Facebook.com and MySpace.com as part of their Internet film marketing strategy:
“The movie-going audience expects to find you online. 40% of movie-goers under the age of 39 look first to the Internet to find out about movies.
“Movie trailers are among the most downloaded videos online. There are more downloads of movie trailers than blooper videos, joke videos, music videos or user-generated videos.
You have to be proactive about your reputation. All it takes is for one person to dislike your movie, to create a “yourmoviesucks” web site and become more accessible to the online audience than your positive movie reviews.
“You can gain information for this movie and your future movies. If you motivate your grassroots audience to interact with you, you can talk to them about future stages of movie marketing – theatrical release, DVD release, DVD downloads and sequels.”
7. MyChurch.org –a social-networking site built around congregations — currently includes about 21,000 churches from across the United States and Canada and about 150,000 individual members. The congregations range from Baptist to nondenominational to Salvation Army.
“It is kind of a MySpace for churches,” said Jon Suh, one of its founders. The site was created more than a year ago by Suh’s congregation, the River Church in San Jose, California.
The River Church was using a variety of online sites–such as Evite, Yahoo! Groups and the photo-sharing Flickr–to provide online content or to notify members of church activities. Church leaders decided to form an online community that would incorporate those functions into one site. www.MyChurch.org
Nathan Tabor is founder and CEO of TCV Media (www.tcvmedia.com) a political consulting and public relations firm in North Carolina.