Sony joins with Awareness for new social network effort

Sony has expanded its corporate blog to debut a new social networking platform for customers looking to connect around its products.

The social network comes out of the brand’s desire to engage its customers on a social level beyond just having social pages on third party networks.

“We realized that consumers are talking about us online, and we wanted to con­nect with them more directly,” said Marcy Cohen, corporate communications spokes­man at Sony Electronics. “We decided that it would be nice to move that conversation to our own back yard.”

The social networking platform stems from a partnership with Awareness Inc., a Waltham, MA, social media marketing company that has recently gone from cre­ating social networks to selling templates for them.

Calling them “Awareness Best Practice Communities,” the digital services firm is now selling eight specific social media site templates based on a business’ needs.

These include templates for a corpo­rate voice community, a user-generated micro site, or enthusiasts, association, loyalty, innovation, peer support or event communities. Awareness continues to create customized templates as well.

The templates stem out of work that Awareness has done with brands including Kodak, Hershey’s and McDonald’s.

“We thought it was time to take what we have learned and create best practices com­munities,” said David Carter, co-founder and CTO of Awareness. “We are trying to take social media to the next level and look at different types of communities.”

The Sony social network, which launched beta on January 6, will have a full launch early this month.

On the site, Sony speaks with its custom­ers about products, industry trends and a whole slew of issues that might interest the Sony crowd. The site will include Sony-created videos and podcasts, and soon consumers can create their own profiles to network with others. Sony’s official MySpace, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube pages will remain, and will include links back to the Sony social site.

The brand will be trying different things out to learn what works best for their cus­tomers, Cohen said.

“This is such a new space, and I’ve talked to a lot of other companies doing this, and we are all just experimenting,” said Cohen. “We are learning what works for our customers. In an economy like this, it is a cost-effective way of getting very direct feedback.”

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