Marketers should have learned this by now, but it seems that some of the most basic new media/social networking lessons are proving hard to absorb and to act upon. A new report by Forrester’s Charlene Li points out that marketers are continuing to focus on tactical interruption based marketing across sites such as Facebook and MySpace, using microsites and banners to deliver campaign messaging to the ready-segmented online communities …
Surprise, surprise, this approach does not seem to be generating the type of successes that were anticipated. Why? Quite simply because social networking is a dynamic experience — and those engaged in using these sites are more interested in the content and the moment-by-moment interaction that is available than the unimaginative advertising efforts developed by advertisers.
I have to admit that my interest in Facebook has been fairly recent and I have yet to really delve into and adopt it as my very own. But what it does seem to do very well is to provide a cross-over space between the personal and professional realms. For me, LinkedIn is great for managing a professional network, while Facebook provides a less formal way of extending my relationships — providing a sense of play and an opportunity to convert "contacts" to "friends". This is particularly important capability considering the amount of time we all seem to work these days.
From a marketing point of view, breaking into a friend-to-friend network such as Facebook is highly desirable. The innate "influence factor" that drives these networks is lucrative — we are after all, more likely to TRY something, BUY something or PROMOTE something if it is recommended by someone we know/value. Moreover, as these networks continue to aggregate value … as we bring more of our expertise, experience and life into the space, the value of the network will grow exponentially (I am sure there could be a good graphic in this concept) … making Facebook and similar sites hugely attractive to not just marketers but also to employers.
This is an important point to note, as there has been a small wave of furore generated in Australia by the spurious claim that Facebook is costing Australian business around $5 billion a year in lost productivity (both Katie and Matt weigh in on the topic very nicely).
Richard Huntington has a great post on how social networks are transforming the WAY that the work of advertising agencies is now being carried out and indicates that such a revolution would never have happened even a short while ago. Even the process of ideation is changing with iteration occurring in almost realtime via blogs, instant messaging and Twitter meaning that MY great idea may, in fact, be the product of the rapid activation of a personal/professional social network. Does this make it any less mine? Does it make the outcome any less valuable to my client/employer? Of course not.
All this points to an evolution in idea generation/innovation across industries … with collaboration being activated and driven by our personal networks. The brands and organisations that understand this dynamic will find ways of supporting and activating these networks — but not through stodgy, old-style advertising — only innovative, thought provoking and valuable efforts will succeed. I have a feeling that only by moving from an interruption mentality to an interact orientation will brands and organisations thrive.