Mario Sundar

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

Is “Marketing” to “friends” on your “social” network right? Is that WOMM enough?

Summary: Jason nails the argument — “Is social networking all about being a marketing platform?” — Why use social networks? — How social networks brings to fruition what word-of-mouth marketing dreamed of!


“You talkin’ to me!” | Jason accurately summarizes the social networking affliction

Jason’s Social Networking Bankruptcy Theory

A week ago, Jason Calacanis in the middle of a blog sabbatical, wrote:

Facebook is a multilevel marketing platform where you agree to pay attention to people’s gestures in the hopes that those people will pay-attention to your gestures in the future. It’s a gesture bank.

Are we creating a social system to communicate with each other at a distance because the reality of creating and maintaining that social networking face-to-face is, well, scary?

How NOT to network socially?

IMO, Imagine if in real life you’d a chance to make friends and all you did was keep making friends and at the end of it, try to market stuff to them. It’s kind of like the Pyramid Scheme were your rationale behind making friends was to sell stuff to them. I know Jason means otherwise, but then the question to ask then, is who among your social network’s connections are truly your “friends”. I have around 180 “friends” on Facebook and almost 400 professional colleagues, networkers, etc… on LinkedIn. (I work for LinkedIn)

I haven’t seen even a single sponsored video, haven’t clicked on the ad for the movie “Superbad” that was on my mini-feed on Facebook. Why? For starters, it’s kinda like inviting your friends over for a party and then starting it off by running a trailer for Superbad. And, if I wanted to be marketed to, I’d then go watch TV, not be on a social network. However, if a friend of mine (from my social network) writes a glowing review of “Superbad”, I may go watch. Interestingly, I’ve seen a bunch of my friends announce on the mini-feed that they were going to watch the “Bourne Ultimatum” today. Now, that makes my ever-convinced mind that I should watch the film today. If you belong to my circle of friends, you’ll also see a glowing review of the film later tonight? I’ve an honest opinion that I’m sharing and you may be inclined to take my word for it.

How to network socially? And, the theory of Word of Mouth Marketing.

Well, what I’m trying to say is that never before did we have tools that organically helped spread word-of-mouth as well as social networking sites allow us to do today.

Word-of-mouth promotion is highly valued by advertisers. It is believed that this form of communication has valuable source credibility. Research points to individuals being more inclined to believe WOMM than more formal forms of promotion methods; the receiver of word-of-mouth referrals tends to believe that the communicator is speaking honestly and is unlikely to have an ulterior motive (i.e. they are not receiving an incentive for their referrals) Source: Wikipedia.[1]

There is no more organic way to do this than using a social network. And, maybe that’s what Jason’s referring to as the gesture bank. I wonder what Andy Sernovitz of Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) thinks of that? Or, what Ben and Jackie at the Church of the Customer think. Their most recent book was titled — Citizen Marketers: when people are the message. What should marketers do when that message is now dispersed on a social network? Think about it. More on this later.

(BTW, I love Andy’s post on how to use networking sites like LinkedIn, without pissing people off? A must-read)

Note to Jason: I also think I’ve subscribed to the rules of linkbaiting, Jason and this was the best picture of yours I could find 🙂 BTW, I’ve gotta thank you for your response to my initial Top 10 CEO blogs. Made a whole lotta difference in my blogging life. Heard through today’s social networking grapevine that you love Kurosawa’s movies. If you do, check out this book by Donald Richie.

Filed under: Facebook, Twitter

7 Responses

  1. […] — 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? […]

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  2. Mark says:

    interesting post

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  3. […] a theme I’ve stressed on in posts as far back as in August, when I compared it to a Pyramid scheme. Call it what you will, but this idea of becoming pitch-men to your close friends could damage your […]

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  4. […] a theme I’ve stressed on in posts as far back as in August, when I compared it to a Pyramid scheme. Call it what you will, but this idea of becoming pitch-men to your close friends could damage your […]

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  5. Kimmy says:

    FED-UP WITH MARKETING “FRIENDS” – I have people I’ve met socially and all they do is market to me constantly once they have my email or FB!! I find it rude and self-centered. I don’t market in return, as I’m not in such a business. I plan to cut these people off! Pretending to friends “ONLY TO SELL” has become narcissistic in our culture.

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  6. […] Since the very beginning, I’ve shied away from liking or promoting brands on Facebook since it feels inauthentic to sell or promote (even inadvertently) to people I really care about. Twitter, on the other hand pioneered (kinda like Blogger) the follower model that was more about building your brand identity that makes it far easier to share your thoughts on the services you’re most passionate about to people who care for your thoughts. Guess what? I do it every single day and it feels natural for me to love or hate brands and products publicly on Twitter. It’s got an in-built reward mechanism for both individuals and for brands. […]

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  7. […] of the reasons, I don’t “like” stuff on Facebook, since I think it’s like a holiday party turned pyramid scheme garage sale. How long would you stay at that party? Also, Pinterest shouldn’t be talking about […]

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