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The Brave New World of Social Media

Friday, October 12, 2007

Marketers are well aware that the media and customer landscapes are changing all around them. A recent study by Accenture found that 62% of executives surveyed believed that “new platforms/new ways of delivery” would be the greatest driver of revenue growth in 2007. It was followed by “new content” at a mere 32%. But in order for this to be true, marketers have to get it right. Even Accenture didn’t get it entirely right. They have a catchy but off-target subhead in the report, “The Revolution Will Be Televised.” Not exactly. It will be caught on video, often captured by personal cell phones, as current events continue to demonstrate.

But that is the new world, and marketers have to get it right. This video featuring Paul Martecchini of PowerStar Consulting shows some examples of what works and what doesn’t.

Click here to play the video.

There’s been buzz lately about the relative success of Target and Wal-Mart on Facebook. One social networking metric is members of your group; as of today Target has 12,829 and Wal-Mart has 1,242. It’s not the theme of the respective pages, both are designed to appeal to the college market. In fact, Wal-Mart has more interactive content with their “decorate your room” application.

If you could see clearly the user-submitted pictures at the bottom of each page, you’d see the issue emerging. The pictures on the Target page are of dorm and apartments and young customers enjoying them. At the time I checked, all four of the user-submitted “pictures” on the Wal-Mart page were negative—a protester, a report cover, what looks like a website home page, and a cartoon. None favorable, which can’t be pleasing to Wal-Mart, although they say they are going to continue with the page. When you read the “wall posts” on both pages, the issue becomes even clearer. The young members of the Target group generally love Target, love shopping there, etc. It looks to me as if the average member of the Wal-Mart group signed up to express social concerns about Wal-Mart.

Two points. First if you’ve got a respected brand, your customers can—and probably will, if you do it right--help you get the word out. If your brand is not respected, submitting it to social scrutiny is going to magnify the issues. Second, do you have a Facebook and a MySpace account? Do you spend some time looking at what your competitors are doing there? If not, you may be missing something important!

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