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To Stumble Or To Digg … Is It Even A Question?

One of the things that puts me in a tricky position as a consultant for PR Newswire is counseling (is that ironic or what?). As an Editor (I was an Editor and Senior Editor from 2002 – 2005), we were not able to counsel clients on what was or was not material to a news announcement. This had to be determined by the client and their legal team. More recently, as the Manager of Emerging Media and a Senior Account Supervisor, I am responsible for counseling clients on rules in Social Media. I’m not exactly sure yet, but this may be a lot trickier.

Much of my presentations focus on social media, social bookmarking and social networking (YES, there is a VERY big distinction between the three (or four)). I contend that the former consists of sites like Wikipedia, Citizendium, Digg, SocialMedian, Newsvine, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Marketwatch and even Reuters Buzz and TD Ameritrade. Social Bookmarking consists of sites like Delicious, Magnolia and Furl. Social Networking consists of sites like Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, Bebo and newcomers like Corkd, Ning, and SocialGo. Maybe even there’s room for a distinction between social media sites and social aggregators like FriendFeed, SocialThing, and others.

There is a very big difference between these four. Social Media relies on the wisdom of crowds and policing of its constituents. The users and community determine the story, definition, accuracy, popularity and trend of the data and/or information. Social Bookmarking sites allows users to store, organize, search, and manage information with other users. Social Networking consists of sites that allow its users to congregate, conversate and organize friends, events and information. Social Aggregators, which is still somewhat of a new term, allow users to stream their online lives and peer into the lives of others.

As far as PR, Marketing and Advertising is concerned, using many of these sites is off-limits. I don’t necessarily mean abusing . Digg, StumbleUpon, Reuters Buzz, Yahoo Message Boards, Wikipedia, and many other of these kinds of sites should NOT be used to promote your product, company or blog post. As I say in all of my presentations, doing this is the same thing as patting yourself on the back on video. I don’t even think that proactively requesting Diggs is appropriate. Most of these functions are supposed to be reactions by the community at large. The results are supposed to be organic… not contrived. While everyone agrees that the A-List consists of, and requires, shameless self-promotion, it should be done with the utmost integrity.

For the corporate bloggers and shareholders out there … be aware that you are not an A-List blogger. They can get away with this … you can’t. The problem is their immunity, not their community.

(Photo Credit)

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