Purpose – The
purpose of this paper is to review recent developments in online marketing strategy which demonstrate the growing power of online
communities in building brand reputations and customer relationships.
Design/methodology/approach – The
work draws upon the results of an ongoing research project which is investigating the use of new technologies by l entrepreneuri a businesses
in the London area. A range of examples from our 30 case study
businesses are drawn upon to illustrate some of the opportunities and
threats associated with these new marketing priorities
Findings – We
conclude that social networks will play a key role in the future of
marketing; externally they can replace customer annoyance with
engagement, and internally they help to transform the traditional focus
on control with an open and collaborative approach that is more
conducive to success in the modern business environment.
Research limitations/implications – Further research should aim to track this activity as it integrates with more mainstream marketing over time.
Practical implications – Developments
in the technologies themselves, as well as a reduction in costs, will
mean that more and more information will be available to consumers. This
results in unprecedented levels of transparency of dealings between
businesses and their customers. A key challenge when engaging customers
through these social networks is how to give away power and control
while at the same time avoiding embarrassment to the company
Originality/value – The
paper provides practical guidance on the opportunities and threats
associated with marketing through social networks, based on lessons
learned from “early adopters”.