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What if the Peanut Industry Had Used Social Media to Monitor & Engage Consumer Discussions?

Academic Network Leads Social Media Panel Today at SOCAP International Symposium: Social Media is Here to Stay so Companies Need to Prepare to Engage Consumers Online

April 21, 2009 (Chicago) —What if the US peanut industry – and the hordes of products and companies impacted by the recent recall — had used the power of the social media to both monitor online activity and engage consumers in discussions and build relationships? Academic Network, a Stericycle company, today led food, beverage and pharmaceutical companies in a panel discussion at SOCAP International Symposium about preparing companies and employees to engage in social media, a phenomenon that’s here to stay according to panelists.

As consumers flood online to research recent food industry recall issues, conversations are springing up all over the web. Consumers are sharing information – ideas, stories, and experiences – about food and drug recalls, diet, and healthy lifestyles. Forward-thinking companies are beginning to look not only at how their brands are reflected, but how their products are being talked about within online communities.

“Companies need to build online relationships with consumers and customers long before a recall or crisis hits,” says Janet Lee Johnson, senior online strategist, Academic Network, a Stericycle company and SOCAP panelist. “There will be more recalls in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. Companies need to anticipate by building online consumer relationships now so when the inevitable happens they can engage another channel of communications and branding — social media.”

Academic Network advises companies getting into social media for the first time to “walk don’t run” when readying for a social media initiative:

♦ Have an established social media policy for your organization – if you do nothing else

♦ Approach social media strategically – have a plan; develop with your media, marketing, pr, consumer affairs, web and online teams

♦ Be sure you have an online listening strategy and don’t be afraid of it – listen in on relevant blogs, websites, Twitter (www.twitter.com) Facebook (www.facebook.com) and more

♦ Bring bloggers and tweeters into corporate media relations outreach – more and more consumers are listening and reading online

♦ Actively engage in discussions online as part of consumer relations, communications and branding strategy

Academic Network, a Stericycle company, and award-winning medical and health communications firm, is now offering services to help clients practice safe, protected consumer engagement in the growing world of Health 2.0 — the use of social media for collaboration between patients, caregivers, medical professionals and other stakeholders. Because the trend toward Health 2.0 is growing so rapidly, Academic Network has started utilizing social media platforms to gather consumer information on new products, recruit patients for clinical trials and help clients successfully build, monitor, manage and track their online reputation as they engage with consumers online.

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