Social + Marketing + Me thinking

One of my currents hats is as an “analyst” for a sales&marketing department of a print (loosely defined) product – yes I mean newspaper. With the changes in the way advertising is being handled now I’ve had a lot to think about and muse on. This is my musings – it is not based on pure date – it is me… thinking aloud. This post: http://kalsey.com/2008/02/social_advertising_failings/ became a springboard that finally launched me into actually putting my musings down on paper er computer. Do not blame anyone else if the ideas are grammatically incorrect or don’t seem well thought out – this is the raw stuff and mine own fault.

Social networks and the art of advertising

I’ve been doing some reading and trying to find a definitive answer as to how well social networks and advertising work together. There seems to be little consensus as to the actual mechanics of it, the numbers say that online advertising – with social networks being a part of that – is way up. Yet it seems to be little drops here and there for the majority of advertisers. There seem to be some key issues regarding advertising with social networks that need to be addressed.

People using social networks are task oriented, they’re not there to find a product, they’re there to fill a very different type of need: socialization.

So what needs are being met with social networks? What does make people move to the next site? Thinking of myself, I may find myself wandering down streets I wouldn’t normally go because I’ve seen it recommended by someone else – or even by someone connected to someone else that I already follow. What does that do for links at the end of my travels – unless they want to up their follow rate, or they are selling something I think I might like to buy, not a whole lot. What advertising am I more likely to get excited about? When someone genuinely finds a product they like (and are not sponsoring or getting a kickback from) and describe it well, it might get me interested in finding out more about it – word of mouth is a big deal.

Like any good reader they’ve learned to skim a page to find the content. Reading a book is much the same: textbooks get skimmed for just the key points, even a great fiction book isn’t read word for word. People on facebook, or myspace, or twitter, or any other blog site are looking for only the content they want to read. Everything else is, including advertising, is hiding in the blind spots.

When do I peruse through the blind spots? When it’s someone whose word I value, I might be interested in looking at who sponsors them. When they’ve been helpful: (a friend meandered over to a magazine’s twitter and got not only great help but a better look at the content of said magazine and is now interested in buying it – subscribing even). When they’ve got something I really like which brings us appropriate matches.

There isn’t a lot of “best fit” advertising. People are trying to “preach to the choir” with their advertising: trying to get the gaming enthusiast to switch games, or the guy who loves his Ford truck to buy the latest truck (which he either already has or he’s planning on buying).

I follow various “groups” on twitter: moms, music, books, games, thought provoking, witty. So I might be a bad example but if I happen across a gaming site that leads me to a geekdom site I might sign up. I might even buy stuff from them. That speaks to the geek in me and I can never have enough geek. So really research says this is not the way to get me, however they’re probably not going to get me to change my mind about d&d but they might get me to buy new dice. Now this is kind of an odd category because you know geeks can never have enough dice, or games, or books, or music. They used an example about skateboards – you’ve got a store you already like to shop from, a certain company you purchase your gear from, but I still think there’s room for more. So I’m a Ford fan, and you probably won’t get me to switch cars, but maybe you could get met to buy new accessories, or buy a different car for my young daughter. Or suggest the car to a friend who doesn’t like Fords, but might like this one.

Final Thoughts
How we decide the “best fit” isn’t always obvious – the key I think is to build up the “connection factor” of the site – make ads more “word of mouth” not a click through picture as we think of advertising. Growing a connected audience builds up the relationship and makes them more open to what you’ve got to say about products somewhere down the line. Connect first, advertise later with something that grabs my attention, and change the advertising to a much less-traditional format. Social networks are about a community – be a part of the community before you try and sell me something please.

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