Social Networking Conference Pushes Message of Customer Engagement

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UK social media entrepreneur Penny Power has praised brands including Coca-Cola at Olympia's Social Networking World Forum by saying 'brands are waking up to the 21st Century and realising that it is no longer about what they want to sell but how they can support and supply solutions to their audiences needs.'

Power, who chaired the conference on 9th March 2009, was thrilled with the clarity by which speakers shared their knowledge and values. The impressive line up of speakers and panellists travelled from the USA, Europe and Asia to share their knowledge and experience of Social networking with the delegates, including senior representatives from Bebo, MySpace, NetLog, Xing, British Airways, Friendster and Ariadne.

"An excellent talk was given by Michael Donnelly, Global Interactive Marketing Director of Coca Cola who said one of the significant aspects of the online word and social media is the fact that you have to be careful of taking too much control of your brand. 'Fans' like to create videos and photo's of the way they view the Coca Cola brand and once you let go of the control this can create some tremendous viral marketing'. Mr. Donnelly used the example of two fans who created an excellent video, now seen on FaceBook ," says Power.

Power, who founded business social network Ecademy in 1998, described the day as a 'massive learning experience' for the delegates and warned that unless they learn to be part of the Social Networking world by joining the conversations that are taking place inside them it is hard for them to have empathy and a sense of opportunity about this new media.

"Brands need to see their customers as an 'audience' that they need to converse with rather than the 20th century view of 'end-users or consumers'. The power of advocacy and the viral nature of applications were mentioned throughout the day, further indicating the movement from broadcast media to conversation based social media and the noticeable increase in marketing budgets for Social Media activity just adds further credibility to this view," says Power.

The Conference organiser Dee Anthony was among many to thank Power for her contribution to the Conference and said:

"Penny has been the highest quality Chair I have worked with, applying her knowledge of the industry, her well know philosophies and her high level of research into the speakers to make the day successful for all involved."

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