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Social media – it’s not a form of advertising . . .

May 19, 2009

It’s funny, I’ve been in more discussions than I can count over the past 2-3 weeks where  social media has been the conversation . . . and I’m not just talking about through work at the ad agency.

  • My Dad works in local government and has asked that I come and speak on the topic of using social media for parks and recreation, public safety, and local government figures for an audience from a number of St. Louis County officials.
  • I’ve been talking with two PR firms and their pitches to top brands on using social media for customer service, crisis management, relationship building and a number of other applications
  • My Husband has been anti-social networks, but is now thinking of joining Twitter to follow his favorite sports commentators and wanted to know just how to do it.
  • My family has recently been subject to a number of members joining Facebook and friending like crazy – which has definitely changed relationships, interactions and our knowledge of what goes on behind closed doors . . . both for the good and the not so good.   It’s causing my 19-year-old sister to jump platforms . . . which we know is already happening as FB is on the rise with the middle aged crowd logging on.  Just talking with her about social management via the web has been fascinating.
  • I’ve recently done quite a few presentations on personal brand management to both my own agency as well as students in area universities, and how you represent yourself throughout the social web speaks volumes to how you are perceived.
  • And finally there’s the subject of brand management, and some recent work I’ve bravely embarked on for managing our agency’s brand throughout the social sphere – which has been quite a undertaking.

As I’ve been going through all of these exercises it’s funny to me to see different organization, companies, agencies  – attempt to not only understand social but also who they turn to for education on these platforms and ultimately brand management.   I’ve also witnessed several different agencies attempt to  “own social” and claim to know the best strategy, tactics, ways to use the medium for your brand.   I’m not sure any one agency can claim to “own social” nor am I sure that the young crowd that uses and understands the medium is the right person internally to “own it” either.

Might be a time to come together?  Might be a time to grow your agency’s offerings?  Might be a time to guide our clients towards solutions that draw on a number of specialties?  Might be a time for a refresher course on the best practices of basic brand management?

In a recent article from Mediapost’s Online Daily Media about forecasting spending in social, they close out the article with a perspective on social when it comes to advertising:

“All the experts, including top Interpublic digital media mavens such as Bant Breen, Reprise Media’s Josh Stylman, the Emerging Media Lab’s Raquel Krouse, and Universal McCann’s Brian Monahan, agreed that social media is having a significant transformational effect on the way consumers and marketers use media, but many did not see social media necessarily as a form of advertising in and of itself. Instead, it is viewed as a set of technologies, tools and platforms that advertisers, agencies, and users alike use to interact with, or without brands.”

I tend to agree . . . it’s a set of technologies, just a new channel that requires a fresh perspective on old marketing principles that still hold true.   We still need internal champions with our clients, we will still need man power to manage the communication, we still need traditional public relations as the consumer has more power to shape your brand, we still need advertising to communicate these channels and stimulate user response,  we still need to come together to work towards the support of one brand – whether that be your favorite sports team, your personal brand, your client, or even your local government.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. Robb Hass permalink
    May 19, 2009 3:07 pm

    I think most folks would agree that word-of-mouth is the most powerful form of marketing. There’s nothing like a personal endorsement from a trusted friend regarding a book, movie, restaurant, etc. The problem with traditional WOM is that it can take a really long time to spread the word.

    The social media space is really just “word-of-mouth on steroids,” allowing tons of friends & acquaintances to share endorsements on everything going on in their lives. If you can get your product into that conversation, then you’ve got something. The beauty of this…the words spread quickly and to tons of people via Facebook, MySpace, twitter, blogs, etc.

    Cool technology + traditional WOM = BUZZZZZZZZ

  2. May 27, 2009 4:17 pm

    I completely agree. I think companies that advertise on social media sites are missing opportunities to make their message and brand meaningful. That’s what I see it boiling down to.

    I’ve worked as a photographer and a giant lab that I don’t even use tried to friend me on facebook. Um. Sorry. You have to be a person to be a friend of mine on facebook. That’s my policy. I’m not friends with faceless companies in real life or online.

    Now, had this lab sponsored a group or contest of some kind I would have been all over it, because they would have positioned their brand to contribute to my self-expression on these sites. Something like “COMPANY’S NAME announces that Sharon is a member of artistic visions” or something like that would have worked for me. Just my two cents.

  3. Crystal permalink*
    August 12, 2009 8:50 pm

    Terrific post. I do think you can advertise on social media. The nature of the “ad” will change. It will be non-linear and instead of a formal layout the picture will form as elements come together over time, being shaped and ultimately co-created by the advertiser and the consumer. I think the resulting “ads” will look more like a soap opera, less like a TV commercial; more like a zine, less like a print ad; more like a music festival, less like a radio spot; more like a wiki, less like a microsite … and so on. Fun with metaphor.

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