Social Networking (SN) has overpassed pornography as the #1 web activity!
A decade ago, I had the great opportunity to be part of the team that started the first ever broadband wireless ISP in France. We were targeting SMBs at the time, and although some of the trend may be cultural and our target audience was purely professional organizations, I do confirm that we had about 80% of the our traffic related to pornography.
SN has grown at a 48% compound annual growth rate in 2010 over 2009, and a slew of indicators seem to point us toward the feeling that singularity definitely apply to the long tail of SN too.
Sometimes, some of the SN videos posted around the Internet may seem way too flashy, like this one:
Nonethess, it is undeniable that the sooner marketers will understand how to leverage the pull power of SN and forget about the dusty ways of wasting hundreds of billions of dollars in traditional marketing, the better off they'll be.
Getting there will certainly be a bumpy ride for many.
There definitely is no magic recipe in my view as an entrepreneurial mindset may be the key to getting it right, and it will certainly involve tapping into the unexpected opportunities of serendipity. Marketers should become VC-minded, investing in a diversified portfolio of SN strategies and converging towards what makes it a win-win for both the communities and the brand.
I believe there is too much binary thinking going on associated with the latest SN craze. C'mon, it's a learning process and it's not because you have some sort of brand face on Facebook that you are instantaneously moving the needle in the right direction. You may actually be moving it counter-clockwise if you have not taken a few steps back to think out long term expectations from the communities and operational implications, therefore cost, to your organization.
A few weeks ago, I came across this post on TechCrunch.
I am not the kind of guy to generally react to push marketing; however, I went ahead and purchased the electronic version of the book. Pretty cool...
In a nutshell, the authors are advocating the fact that "small moves, smartly made, can set big things in motion". To do that they claim that there are three key levels in the pull, three diving boards:
- Access (resources through communities)
- Attract (the organic resources from the communities)
- Achieve (I would parallel this to building the sense of common purpose between you/your brand and the communities)
I paused for a moment and I realized that this is pretty much what my bro and his team have learned the hard way as they are growing their community-based film production company touscoprod.com
From the onset, they built the tools to access the film lover communities. There were no barriers whatsover as the only moderator was my bro alone. It was a few years ago and the fancy features offered by some fancy user moderation companies these days didn't exist.
Well, it was actually a great opportunity in disguise not to have these digital tools firsthand.
As a matter of fact, while interacting directly with the unsensored communites, my bro was able to understand the power of real-time pull interaction. Yes, they definitely found themselves in extremely delicate situations where consumers were extremely irrate about things that are normally being dealt with in a private "consumer service" kind of setting.
It took time, a lot of time, a lot of patience to publically address these consumers' points of pain. But integrity and openess were the key ingredients to turn around what would primarily look like brand/consumer adversity into sustainable brand/consumer friendship that virally propagates through the communities.
In a word, negative pull interaction is the long term open door to sustainable consumer loyalty.
The problem is that quite a few marketers don't seem to understand that. You cannot push your marketing in a SN right off the bat because it is going to bounce back in your face and make you loose trust. Build the trust first, and sollicit the value, don't push it!
Once brands get that, sooner rather than later, they will be able to attract advocates from the community that are going to act as exponential pull powers. I wouldn't be surprised that in a few years from now, brands will actually start hiring based on the added value of each individual as a contributing entity to the community. Imagine some sort of Foursquare hiring mayorship for your brand based on added value behaviors.
At that point, the overarching "sense of purpose" will achieve unprecedented return on your marketing dollars, this will be a quantum leap in relation to the famous 10x return on direct marketing investment touted at any Direct Marketing Association conference around the world.
It's about time to dive in the pull!