After reading this weeks installment of Ad Age, I’m finding I’m doing a double take on how I think about Facebook. I’m wondering if they can keep up with all the hype surrounding marketing to their social graphs. People seem to think of this as a ‘magic bullet’ theory on reaching the masses. I hope they all don’t drink the kool-aide.
Consumer marketing has no real place in these networks. There. I said it. Unless these groups can find a way to be useful or sponsor usable widgets, I dont see it happening. The real value of the social graphs is to see how consumers discuss brands and how companies can (gasp) make products better. Reach consumers in a conversation they actually want to be a part of. Not pushing more banner ads or ‘click here’ collateral.
Social marketers already know this. They know these networks are fantastic in building awareness and communities of conversation around topics and barriers to behavior change. Consumer marketers – the good ones at least – also know that online social networks like Facebook will ultimately serve one purpose for them – brand building. Not brand building in the sense of creating loyalty or building visibility, but more so creating a venue for healthy conversations between a brand and its community of users. Healthy meaning frequent two way communication with room for those who are anti-brand and that ultimately helps create new ways of relating.
Bottom line – if people want your product they can buy it. They’re already talking about it – why not be a part of that conversation?