Monday, November 17, 2008

Social Media as a Marketing Vector

You might want to weigh in on this poll. There's a lot of cool stuff going on with Social networking. Facebook, Myspace and Linkedin are all the rage for a lot of people. I for one have Linkedin as one of my multiple home pages -- if you don't have this setup with Firefox or the latest version of Internet Explorer, you're really missing out -- basically when I pop a new browser window, 7 or so pages load at once, so I can check all the things I care about in my life simultaneously. Linkedin is one of those pages.

I check facebook probably once a day (it's not a default page) -- from a work perspective it's just not as valuable. Great for distractions though.

What's budding is the value of using this technology to market products. It reminds me of the old interactive TV idea. Remember this? There was once going to be a time when TV had like an attached keyboard and you were going to be able to do cool stuff to supposedly interact with what was going on. I won't go off track here much -- things like the Cue Cat, for example, prove that getting traditional marketing channels to be more interactive are difficult at best.

WebTV was, from what I could tell, an attempt to kind of go that direction. It just didn't make a whole lot of sense at the end of the day. Why? Mostly because TV infected the Web first, and I would add that as a second vector, the Web is far more interactive and entertaining than any set of "channels" with interactive componentry. The concept isn't exactly dead -- it's just not exactly something all that effective -- the reasons why will become more clear as the concept of Social Media in the context of interactive marketing are exploited going forward.

Microsoft is supposedly reworking the WebTV concept for Version two (due to ship sometime soon).

Don't hold your breath on that one...

Social media as a marketing concept is different in a lot of ways. Social media itself is basically another set of nebulous vectors aimed at connecting people. When you look at the potential to harness it to get the word out for new products and ideas, the differences (in my opinion) stand out:

  • Less centralized control.
  • More motivation by the target audience to use the service to their ends.
  • It's more or less a free service to the people that use it.
  • No hard-wired anything (hardware, software etc -- you just need an internet connection and a web browser to join the party).
  • It's basically a blank canvas from a format perspective -- anything goes.
  • People are more emotionally connected to it.
I think this has a lot more potential to work, for all of the above reasons. I think traditional marketing people may be totally frightened by some of the vectors mentioned above -- mainly the decentralization of the beast. In the old days of TV, magazines and traditional marketing this wasn't the case so much.

Sure, you were free as a public citizen to create your own radio, TV station or magazine -- but that's not quite the same thing as creating a facebook page or updating some information on -- and yes, I think this analogy applies.

It's very much the same kind of decentralization that Linux has brought to the operating system world (see, I knew there was a way to drag Free Software into the conversation). That world is better (in my humble opinion) and I think this kind of marketing is going to be better for all the same vectors.

1 comment:

Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier said...

That's an interesting perspective. I use social media but I don't know if it's really something that's useful or not, yet. I get a minor boost out of posting things to Twitter or whatnot, but I don't know if the boost is worth the effort -- perhaps it is if you're on the so-called "A list" with thousands of followers. Time will tell. :-)