Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

Advertisers now want to use social networks for what?!

Summary: As expected advertisers are jumping onto the social networking bandwagon – pitfalls ahead (Warning: Astro-network-turfing anybody?) — What should marketers do? — Follow the Social Networking LAMP (a variation on my recent presentation at the Online Marketing Summit).

Just a couple of weeks back, I gave two presentations on the “Impact of Social Media on Marketing”. I also took pains to identify some of the Ten Ways for marketers to engage organically in social networking (think word of mouth marketing). One of my key takeaways from the phenomenon of social networking (Disclosure: I work for LinkedIn as community evangelist), is that it helps spur true evangelism and word of mouth marketing in a way that no other technology development has been able to since the advent of the internet. And then, I read this in Advertising Age. Titled “Marketers start to use social networks for CRM instead of ads” (by Abbey Klaassen) the gist of the post was similar to the content of my recent presentations (particularly in reference to how social networks is more about evangelism and less about advertising. Here’s a comment from Chris Jones, former CEO JWT and currently adviser to FreeWebs (company that creates widgets/apps that run on social networks), about what I presume are old-school advertisers:

“[They say], ‘It’s not fair others can use the audience that we created for marketing purposes without us having a share of that.’ At the same time, it’s MySpace, not Rupert’s Space,” he said. (Mr. Jones is an adviser to FreeWebs, which creates widgets run on social networks.)

Advertisers/PR have used Social Media inappropriately before (think Edelman-Walmart fiasco), and with the current mindset as outlined above, one thing leads to another and before we realize it we could be staring into the face of another astro-network-turfing scandal! So, if you’re a marketer who’s considering social network as a means of connecting better with your target audience, you can still follow the LAMP — here are the first four steps for marketers/businesses to connect better with your audience either in social media or within social networks:

1. Listen: Yes, this is the most important and essential benefit from a social network. Find out how many groups dedicated to your product/service that you can find on these sites. It’s not any different from scouring Yahoo! groups, the only noticeable difference being you may actually be friends with some of the members of these groups and that’s a huge difference. First off, introduce yourself, listen and respond when there are appropriate questions about your product/service. Listening can sometimes be the most difficult thing to do.

2. Awareness: Once you’re a well established member within the group, you’ve got a decent awareness of what needs to be done. In terms of what users’ expectations are, their feedback on your product/service, their pain points. Once you’re aware of these, take that feedback back to your teams and try to get some traction in responding to some of these questions.

3. Measure: Within social networks, the only level of measurement we can attempt to quantify can be engagement – the holy grail within marketing these days (that’s another topic and another post all together). This is an ever evolving field. Feel free to share any ideas you have on this topic.

4. Participate: Let’s face it. All companies HAVE TO PARTICIPATE in the conversation, there are no two ways about it. No longer can a company hide behind PR. Just think of the PR fallout from the recent Skype outage where the users question their most recent press release. Other than this, why else should companies participate? Because you care about your product/service and would like to set the record straight when someone wrongfully blames your product, Why? Because you care enough about your users that you’re out there responding to their questions (esp. the oft repeated ones).

A social network is a great way to participate in these conversations with your users but it’s no different from a discussion forum or a blog. Let’s not forget that all of the above steps are inspired by relationship marketing (originating in the 60s and the 70s) but with an increasingly ubiquitous social networking world, it looks like the promise of relationship marketing will finally be felt today.

And for the rest of the advertisers, there’s always paid advertising. Are you listening to your users? If so, what platforms do you use currently?


Related posts:
1. Impact of Social Media on Marketing
2. Social Media LAMP (First four steps in social media adoption for businesses)
3. Is Marketing to your “friends” on your “social network” right?

Filed under: Facebook, Linkedin, Miscellaneous, Twitter

One Response

  1. Heather D says:

    Hi Mario — We attended the Online Marketing Summit and I had to thank you for an excellent presentation. I have been meaning to blog on it myself since you raised a lot of excellent points on the impact of social media and marketing. It’s rare that I walk away from a conference session, describing it as “meaty,” but you really provided some good food for thought! Thanks! :)

    Like

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