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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Messy But Successful Social Media

Social Media is Very Complex and Social Relationships Online are Messy and Erratic. But it Works When You Know How to Use It.

by Idris Mootee

Messy But Successful Social MediaRemember the saying about advertising that "I know half of our advertising spend is wasted, I just don't know which half?" I first heard about this quote 20 years ago and I think it is from 19th Century merchant John Wanamaker. I think I can comfortably say "I know 80% of my advertising spend is wasted, I just don't know the alternative..." The problem with TV and print advertising today is that it informs rather than sells - it rarely engages with consumers at all. Online ads are worse and currently lacking in brand advertiser value and their creative formats are outdated and ineffective.

What about social media? Consumer perceptions, social relationships and human behavior are messy, erratic, and maddeningly unpredictable. The debate on the effectiveness of social media to build brand and provide effective reach is ongoing. When marketers want to reach and engage audiences of social networks such as Facebook, they have two choices: buy advertising or start a social media viral campaign. Advertising on Facebook is of limited use we all know it. How often do you read or click on any ads on Facebook? But we read the wall, we click in the links published by friends and go to Cafeworld to pick up gifts. These connected worlds are like new found oil hotspots. It is not only important to understand who influences purchase decisions in online communities but also the degree of impact. I don't think we can use a broadcast paradigm if we really want to understand what it means.

Idea Couture's senior interactive designer Jackie Siddall was featured in the Wall Street Journal earlier this week. A WSJ writer discovered her story in our Noodleplay site and decided to publish her story. It is an very interesting one. It is about how Jackie was prompted by a Twitter post by the retailer that led to her purchase of a folding kayak for $1,900. She doesn't use that go to work, she rides a bike...summer, winter or fall.

Jackie Siddall and her foldable kayakThe vessel was one of about just 600 sold in 2009 by Folbot Inc., a small retailer in Charleston, S.C. "You can't buy that exposure," says the firm's co-owner, David AvRutick, who claims the incident speaks to the value of using social media for marketing when he was interviewed by WSJ. Mr. AvRutick says he dedicates about an hour a day - could also go to waste.

Mr. AvRutick says he regularly searches Twitter for tweets that mention kayaking and then sends messages to the people who wrote them. He connected with Jackie, the blogger who credited Twitter for exposing her to Folbot, after she posted a tweet that mentioned she wanted a kayak. Jackie later asked Mr. AvRutick via Twitter if he would send her some photos of her folding kayak being made, and he provided about 20. After it arrived, she says she decided to write a blog post about the whole experience.

Let me see if this works for me. I am looking for a Leica M8 so I will be posting that and see of anyone would contact me through Twitter or Facebook. Many brands are embracing social media. One success story is Starbucks. Starbucks official full-time tweeter is Brad Nelson and Starbucks isn't just any brand on Twitter, with Brad at the helm, they're doing many things right. A former barista, Brad is now manning the Twitter ship and he's responding to questions or mentions of Starbucks, trying to help customers find resolutions to their problems, and putting out fires left and right. Twitter will soon be part of a company's call center...scary.

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Idris MooteeIdris Mootee is the CEO of idea couture, a strategic innovation and experience design firm. He is the author of four books, tens of published articles, and a frequent speaker at business conferences and executive retreats.

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