Who’s got a better chance in the economic downturn?

With the financial crisis already here and recession just around the corner, discussions run high about what will happen in the advertising and PR industries. How will it affect us?

There will be businesses that continue just like before and don’t cut marketing dollars (often the ones who turn out winners in the end) but in general, budgets will be cut. So, who will win and who will lose? Some say businesses will withdraw any planned investments in new communication tools. The tried and true will win out. Others say there will be increased focus on ROI and budgets will be moved online, where it is easier to measure and usually a higher ROI.

But, no matter where businesses spend their marketing and PR budgets, if social media will be winners or losers in this game, social media offers another advantage – dialogue. Businesses can get feedback.

When businesses have an open dialogue with customers, they know what needs improvement, they know what new features are needed, and they know what they actually can cut away and save money.

The possibilities for product development are endless. Customers really do care and want to contribute. Entire businesses are built around this. Examples are t-shirt producers Threadless and Spreadshirt – both prosperous companies that rely entirely on their communities for product development.

Other examples that are not entirely dependent on user generated ideas for product development are DellIdeastorm and MyStarbucksIdea. Both good ways to interact with passionate users and get great ideas.

Darwin stated:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Via Jeremiah Owyang (oh, and do check his post on Four Social Media Questions You Must Answer During an Economic Downturn).

No doubt is there a greater chance to be ready for change, to be adaptable enough, if a business actually gets involved in social media. I would love to see more companies moving into this arena, not only to communicate their message, not even only to listen, but to actually learn from customers, and implement what they want.

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