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Source Susan Gunelius , Contributor  via Forbes blog

As the social web has grown and tools like Twitter, blogs, Facebook and YouTube have allowed communications to flow faster and farther than ever before — inevitably causing the world to shrink and real-time to be the expectation — people have changed. Those changes affect most aspects of our daily lives, including our roles as individuals with buying power, and that’s a shift that businesses and their employees need to understand if they want to stay profitable in the future.

In simplest terms, people have moved from being CONsumers to PROsumers with far more influence than ever before.

The term “prosumer” isn’t a new one. It’s been around the marketing world for years, but in today’s world of the social web, it has taken on a new importance that business leaders and marketers can’t ignore.

The term “prosumer” has transformed from meaning “professional consumer” to meaning “product and brand advocate.” Rather than simply “consuming” products, people are becoming the voices of those products and significantly impacting the success or failure of companies, products, and brands, particularly through their involvement on the social web.

No longer are businesses completely in control of their products, brands and messages. Today, consumers are in control. The leaders of this shift are the members of the social web — bloggers, microbloggers, forum posters, social networking participants, and so on, who spread messages, influence people around the world, and drive demand.

Prosumers are the online influencers that business leaders and marketers must not just identify but also acknowledge, respect and develop relationships with in order for their products and brands to thrive.

The high level steps to leveraging the power of prosumers are as follows:

  1. Identify the key online influencers for your product, brand, business or industry (i.e., the prosumers).
  2. Acknowledge those people (e.g., send product samples, ask opinions, etc.).
  3. Join the online conversation where those people already spend time.
  4. Develop relationships with those people by interacting with them, providing useful information, and being accessible and human.
  5. Leverage the opportunities of the social web by creating your own branded destinations such as a blog, YouTube channel, Twitter profile, Facebook group or fan page, LinkedIn group, podcast, etc.

The bottom line to connect with prosumers and to get them talking about and advocating you, your brand, products and business is to deliver content that adds value to their experiences with your brand online. Then, don’t be afraid to let them take control and spread your messages. That’s where the power of the social web and online influencers to drive word-of-mouth marketing farther than ever comes into the picture, and that’s the ultimate goal for business leaders and marketers.

Tag(s) : #Paradigm Shift, #Economy, #Entrepreneur, #LeadershipCulture, #Cultural Creatives
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