Did you know that you may have the power to influence the success OR failure of a brand or company? Well, if you are an avid user of social media tools such as blogs, Twitter, Facebook and the many other social networks that exist, then you most certainly do have a lot of power.
With the advent and growth of social media, more attention is now being focused on PROsumers and their growing influence. While in the initial stages, a prosumer was considered to be a “professional consumer” whose interest for the most part was centred on purchasing professional grade products and equipment, Susan Gunelius, in an article posted on Forbes.com, notes that in today’s digitally enabled, always-on world, prosumers have been transformed into “product and brand advocates”. These persons with the assistance of social media, utilise multiple platforms to express their opinions on a company’s product, service or policies to a worldwide audience.
n terms of how powerful these PROsumer can be, Susan points out that “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.”
This is the age of consumer empowerment, where shopping is no longer limited to casual browsing or a financial transaction; it has become a more engaging experience that involves consumers providing commentary, feedback and reviews on company products, services and policies. Take for example – the recent Baby K’Tan Sling Controversy that sparked an outrage on social media.
Many avid social media users took offense to the picture above, saying that it was racist and that Baby K’Tan was engaging in racist stereotypes about the Black family, because the White woman has a smiling White man behind her to complete the family portrait, while the Black woman did not (portraying the black single mom stereotype).
We may never know if this was intentionally done by the company or not, however, in response to the controversy, they released a statement saying that it was a misunderstanding; indicating they had other packaging with single white women on the front and that their company was built and has prospered because of its focus on diversity and inclusion.
The lesson to take from this is how influential persons were in this situation. Bloggers, vloggers and social media buffs alike all took to social media to speak out against the company and urged everyone to boycott the product and brand and it went viral in a matter of hours after surfacing.
PROsumers can literally make OR break a business.
So, how can a business leverage the power of PROsumers and ensure that their business can succeed? Susan Gunelius lists these 5 steps:
- Identify the key online influencers for your product, brand, business or industry (i.e., the PROsumers).
- Acknowledge those people (e.g., send product samples, ask opinions, etc.).
- Join the online conversation where those people already spend time.
- Develop relationships with those people by interacting with them, providing useful information, and being accessible and human.
- 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.
In the end, as a PROsumer, you have the power to spread the messages of various brands online and influence others – negatively or positively. It is up to businesses to learn how to engage their customers and form a relationship that benefits both parties in order to maintain a positive image brand.
What are some of your favourite Jamaican or international brands that always engage their fans online?