The Internet has created an environment in which institutional control of the order of information has been lost. As a result, order and the control of information have trickled down to the individual level. Imagine the transition from several thousand companies once controlling messages through traditional media, to today’s expansive communication via several million individuals free to distribute their own information on the Internet.
Welcome to the “court of the people.” This court of the people’s currency is emotion. The one with the most amount of emotion will spread their word about a company, a product, a service very quickly throughout hundreds of web sites. When a customer’s emotions are negative, of course, this becomes problematic. The web sites which a dissatisfied customer can post to includes blogs, forums, complaint communities, and social communities at large
Certainly one can argue that this process aids in identifying scams and locating others that have experienced the same scams. Allowing the individual to post their experience on the web will bring people together from different parts of the world to help stop predators seeking financial gain on the backs of others.
While the court of the people has a legitimate and positive aspect, for large corporations operating with products and services to consumers, it can become an Internet public relations nightmare. For this reason, it becomes important to perform ongoing monitoring and continual management of the information through thousands of web sites. Unlike traditional media, information that is posted on the Internet has a shelf life of years, can be easily found through search engines, and continues to shape customer opinion.
What options do businesses have in this new age of Internet public relations? A passive approach towards the “court of the people” will not provide a long term solution as negative information builds exponentially. An active Internet public relations strategy will be necessary and one that not only monitors brands, products and services, but also develops relationships with the consumer through social media marketing.
You may have heard that “Content Is King” on the Internet. The statement is 100% accurate. Content Marketing through content development and content distribution will become one of the methods of active Internet public relations strategy. Content marketing can be defined as “the convergence of editorial and advertising using multiple formats that allows for viral distribution to raise awareness about your business and web site.” Content types range from articles, news releases, video, photos, social media postings and much more. How much information is posted on the Internet about your company, your domain name, your products and your services? How wide of a net has been cast with this content?
Another Internet public relations strategy is relationship building through social media marketing. Social Media Marketing strategies allow businesses to engage the consumer at the time that they are asking questions, posting opinion, or seeking help. Most companies do not have a strategy for social media, rather a peripheral approach. A strategy that focuses on the business objectives, monitoring tools, and analyzing results will develop relationships between the brand and the consumer; and, supports the sales process. The process of a social media marketing strategy can also tie into a business’s customer relationship management (CRM) system.
So, where does Internet advertising fit into this process? When it comes to the Internet public relations, there really isn’t any room for advertising. Internet advertising is best suited for product launches, events, internet value offers and other promotions that support the direct sales process. One has to also consider that Internet advertising has a shelf life of a few seconds and provides no longer term benefit when it comes to your Internet public relations strategy.
Content marketing to post information through multiple methods will give you a proactive position for any negative publicity. Social media marketing for relationship building will support any current customer questions, opinions, help as well as sales. Circumventing the “court of the people” will support your brand objectives with an active Internet public relations strategy. Does your company have one?