It’s All about the Relationship: Interviews with the Experts on How Digital Product Companies Can Use Social Media

It’s All about the Relationship: Interviews with the Experts on How Digital Product Companies Can Use Social Media

Delaney J. Kirk (University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-877-3.ch007
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Abstract

The rapid growth of social media sites has caught the attention of individuals and organizations hoping to use these to market their products and services. As digital products are sold online, it makes sense to tap into these networking communities to sell products as well as to share information and gather feedback. In this chapter, experts who are currently using social media in a variety of ways are asked to share their experiences. Tips are given on what to do as well as what not to do in order to participate successfully on social media sites. Future managerial and research implications are then discussed.
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Background

There are hundreds of social networking sites on the Internet today. Some of the most widely used venues include blogs, forums, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube.

Blogs

The term, weblog (commonly called blog), is defined as a “frequently updated website, normally with dated entries and usually with the newest entries at the top” (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, 2008). It is estimated that there were only 150 blogs in the late 1990s (Trammell & Ferdig, 2004). However, this number increased to 10.3 million blogs in 2004 (Quibble, 2005), 70 million in 2007 (Sifry, 2007), and to over 112.8 million by July 2008, with 175,000 new blogs being added each day (“Technorati website statistics,” 2008).

Blogs differ from traditional websites in several distinct ways (Quibble, 2005). Websites tend to be static and do not change often; blogs are dynamic and usually added to frequently by the author (or authors). Also, the readers of the blog can respond to the writer’s text by making comments that can then be read by other readers. In addition, blogs are much easier to add content to because they do not require the expertise and special programming software to start or update as websites do. In fact, the major reason for the growth in blogs is that “software companies created the database-driven content management tools needed to run blogs so that non-coders could start their own blogs” (Trammell & Ferdig, 2004, p. 61). In other words, blogs have become easier to create than a webpage. As noted by one website designer, “adding a new post [on a weblog] is as easy as sending an e-mail” (Demopoulos, 2007, p. 4).

Forums

Internet forums were one of the first online communication tools and are still popular for people wanting to engage in an ongoing, interactive conversation on a specific topic. Forums are similar to chat rooms except that forums do not have to occur in real time. People in forums tend to form very strong bonds as they care about the subject matter and trust each other. Forums are seen as predecessors to the blog although the strong growth of blogs has not in any way led to a demise of the forum format (Safko & Brake, 2009).

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