The leading edge of online corporate outreach once was the executive blog. Carefully crafted messages on a range of topics, closely vetted by PR firms, were posted every few weeks, calculated to appear spontaneous and thoughtful. Not surprisingly, many companies learned that customers didn’t find those missives authentic, and they moved toward more dialogue-based tools. Now, with the advent of micro-blogging services like Twitter and Plurk, that leading edge has become more like a pinpoint.
Take BarackObama, the campaign’s micro-blog on Twitter, for example. It has nearly 55,000 followers — a big number by micro-blog standards, but still not a huge distribution list by conventional media standards. “What [companies] don’t see is the network effect,” said Silva. Popular micro-blogs, he asserted, have an enormous ability to influence the larger popular culture.