QueTwo's Blog

thouoghts on telecommunications, programming, education and technology

Marketing on Social Networking

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I had a customer call me Saturday morning all excited.

"I just got back from the xxxx conference, and the word of the conference was ‘Social Networking’.  I want to be able to jump on this social networking thing in full force.  I need your help so I can do my marketing on this new platform."

This is where I got scared.  My customer all of a sudden knows about this brand ‘new’ marketing platform that he wasn’t leveraging yet. Sounds like an opportunity to me, right? After talking to my customer a bit more, he dove into what he wanted.  He essentially wanted me to link his web site into Facebook ("or the Book Face" as he kept referring to it as") and Twitter.  What he really wanted was for me to modify his sales engine so that if he posted a new discount or sales item that the engine would automatically post a message on these services letting people know about the sale.  A speaker at the conference told him that all he had to do was to get ‘followers’ and that sales would just go up. Apparently the Comcast example was brought up (where customers that contacted Comcast via twitter had an 90% satisfaction rating, rather than the 40% rating they had otherwise). 

Now, I don’t expect this guy to just ‘get it’, and that’s why he uses me for consulting — I’m there to help teach him this stuff.  What really bothers me is the huge following to monetize sites like twitter, and use it solely as a marketing platform. Although the speaker at this conference was excited about these services, he is doing them, and all of us a big disservice.  The reason why many of these sites were created was to evolve from the ad-laden, corporate marketed site that we have become numb to.  I’m finding more and more people that are following me on Twitter and Facebook that are ‘social media trainers’, ‘social media managers’, and other titles that are really there just to abuse the system.

Why don’t these people "get it?" Why do these businesses feel that this new ‘medium’ needs to be managed, controlled and marketed to?  For those of you who have read the Cluetrain Manifesto (thanks Tom & John for the book!), that previous line should sound familiar.

Social Media is medium for people to connect with people. People already plenty of ways to connect with marketing (Websites, Movies, TV, Email, Phones, Billboards, etc.), but this is supposed to be the genuine, person to person, communication.  Social Media is a place where a person can open up, and say or post things that are actually on their mind.  Marketing is the exact opposite — a way to convince others to think something about you.  To use a previous example, Comcast is not using Twitter as a marketing engine — the marketing is happening as a result of Comcast’s work on the site.   Comcast (in particular a few of their employees) are using Twitter in a genuine way — to help customers with person to person communications, and this is helping them.  Another company, the Lansing City Pulse, on the other hand, has gone down the marketing route, and has posted nothing but filtered marketed information on their twitter feed. They have been fully lambasted by those on twitter because of it.

I see this move as the same as the move for companies to get on the internet. They moved to the internet because they saw it as a way to get their information online. Of course, almost all of them simply put up an ‘internet brochure’ which didn’t have much more information than their address and phone number. I also see this as a movement as businesses seeing email as a great way to communicate with their customers, and  potential customers (spammers).

I told me customer that despite what they heard at the conference, the ‘social media platform’ won’t increase their sales by a measurable amount. However, opening your company to the social media world will connect you to your customers on a personal level, and will with that personal touch that is lost on the internet. Adding a personal touch to any relationship will almost always make it more genuine, authentic, and stronger.  Given a strong relationship, well maintained, you will most likely get repeat business, and business recommended from those who do have those relationships.

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3 responses to “Marketing on Social Networking

  1. Matt January 19, 2009 at 2:07 am

    I second the recommendation of ‘The Cluetrain Manifesto’.

    And great points on the Social media craze. Too many people are trying to figure out how to get rich off of these services without actually taking the time to figure out why these services are gaining traction and popularity. IMHO, I believe that Social Media sites are helpful for the simple fact that they assist lazy bastards like myself stay in touch with friends and family. Furthermore, these services can actually assist in the formation of new relationships and associations. (Business alarms should be sounding) The magic that everyone is looking for is in the formation and maintaining of relationships with potential partners and customers. This is not a new business philosophy but a time-tested sales and marketing truism that’s a good bit older than the interweb. New tools, same game. But I do have to say that they are helpful.

  2. Online Marketer January 19, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    Too funny. People come back from marketing conferences all the time jazzed about the new “hot” thing. Right now, with this economy, people are really looking for free marketing methods. Sounds like the speaker got everyone jazzed, but failed to tell them just how much work this “free” marketing takes. Social media is a great tool, but from my experience you have to be careful or else you will end up spending so much time “networking” that you wont actually make any sales.

  3. Crystal January 20, 2009 at 1:18 am

    This is a great post! I agree with the comment left by Online Marketer. I educate my clients to integrate these mediums to connect with their clients and be part of the dialogue. I like engaging facebook and twitter using the same thinking I would at a networking meeting or social function. The conversation should devleop naturally, but I think it can be steered in any direction. As long as businesses aren’t being overly excessive with their marketing message the marketing message has a chance to naturally develop over time.
    Thanks again for this – its a great reminder to simmer down on the plug and up the personal content.

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