The B2B Social Web has arrived and it's not going to go away.
I was interviewed recently about the Social Web for a series of articles for Ecommerce Times, and here's the first half of our conversation...
1) What is THE most significant issue regarding the appearance of Web phenomena like social professional networks?
If being an expert or leader in your market is defined as others' regard for your insight, skills or services, then you must participate in the networks where this expertise is being shared, and where the people you want to influence are going to help shape their viewpoint. For many professions, these networks remain predominantly offline, but this balance will tip in favour of online for most if not all professions eventually.
2) What major trends should my readers know about?
The all-singing, all-dancing social network (Friendster, Myspace, Bebo, Facebook) will increasingly represent the minority of our online social networking. We will gravitate towards specialised networks dedicated to our specific sports interest, hobby, profession, health condition etc.
But, we won't have to establish our profile from scratch on each of these, nor our network of friends, as developments such as OpenSocial allow us to take our profile with us. This interoperability will also permit much easier control over our engagement in each network, possibly centralising each onto one page; "MySocialNetworks" if you like. Some pundits have started to call this "lifestreaming"!
3) What do you think of what has been termed "the New PR?"
For many years, PR has been defined as media relations - a linear relationship between PRs, journalists and the target audience. The industry became increasingly focused on traditional media as the best, if not sole way, to reach the 'public'. Terms such as "new PR" or "PR 2.0" simply refer to a reversion to the objective of building a dialogue with your influencers and audiences and developing content that helps to earn understanding and support.
I guess this is called "new" or "2.0" rather than "old!" because a new and large swathe of those channels are digital. It has taken us back to the true definition of PR.
4) Do you have any final thoughts on any of the problems facing people seeking authentic connections and truthful information online today or (very generally) what the future holds for the Web as it relates to PR and marketing?
I'm optimistic for the future quality of people's interaction with large organisations; for the potential for more genuine and open dialogue. We have an innate ability to detect inauthenticity, and digital media now eliminates the previous geographic constraints to people sharing concerns about an organisation that isn't open, isn't authentic, isn't human. The challenge for professional marketing communicators is the sheer diversity of channels to listen to, to engage in. I call this problem, or opportunity, myChannel.