Friday, December 26, 2008

The Beginning of the Web-Wide Social Network

There's an undeniable trend - the future of online social networking doesn't live within a single entity's walls but instead permeates the web. MySpace, Facebook and Google each announced similar-sounding moves back in May 2008 that remain worth paying attention to as marketers watch to see how the social web evolves.

MySpace on May 7 said it would open up its profile data to third-party sites. Two days later Facebook said it would let users connect their Facebook accounts to third-party applications and websites, and that it would also allow developers to incorporate Facebook friend data into other sites and applications. And Google announced FriendConnect, a service that lets website owners add social applications to their sites.

Sites are blending
So here we are, about 9 months later and these actions were pre-cursors to what many web watchers and social media gurus like Dan Schawbel & Christopher Penn, have been prophesizing: that social-media tools and services would spread throughout the wider web, rather than stay contained within a single service.

Forrester's Charlene Li is also one of those believers. She has described how social networks will be "like air." She writes on her blog: "I thought about my grade-school kids, who in 10 years will be in the midst of social network engagement. I believe they (and we) will look back to 2008 and think it archaic and quaint that we had to go to a destination like Facebook or LinkedIn to be social."

"Instead, I believe that in the future, social networks will be like air," she continued. "They will be anywhere and everywhere we need and want them to be." And we are seeing this transformation from such sites as MySpace and Facebook as they empower their users with the ability to move data and social connections to the broader web.

Even traditional media companies such as CBS understand the importance of spreading their social tools among third-party sites. CBS's hyper-syndication web-video strategy also includes technology that lets CBS viewers chat with each other while watching content, even if they're watching that content off

Listen up, marketers
So what does this mean for marketers? It means more consumers talking to each other across the web, and it means discussions around brands are no longer siloed to a single platform or network but are spreading to a wider swath of sites. Imagine just since May you can now easily take a conversation about a brand that's occurring on say,... Twitter and embed that into other sites.

Of course this also means that when a company fails to deliver on their "brand" promise, bad news will spread very fast. Someone who has put some understanding around this issue is Rohit Bhargava in his book, Personality not Included. And if you do nothing else but read the introduction excerpt, free, on his site, it will help you understand where marketing is headed in this brave new world and the need to put a consumer-friendly likable face on your company.

Add a social layer and become more interesting and engaging. Or to quote David Ogilvy, "You now have to decide what image you want for your brand. Image means personality. Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the marketplace."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

How Does the Consumer Use Your Product?

Well, in the case of this Levi's ad .... these guys are jumping into their pants! Check out how Levi's targets one of their customer segments - Levi's Guys Backflip into Jeans. The only thing that troubles me is that there doesn't seem to be a Levi's logo anywhere so how will this drive these young consumers to buy Levi's over another brand? What am I missing?