Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Social Media Marketing... What does that mean?!

Social Media Marketing (or SMM as it's now being abbreviated) is an odd term isn't it? Yet, somehow it has become a buzz phrase within the industry, which a lot of people have latched onto and have started to use.

I was having a conversation the other day, and when the term was used I felt the need to stop the flow and break down the "Social Media Marketing" phrase (A pretty sad thing to do, I know). However, I was pleased with the response as it was a positive one and provoked some thought which had not been considered before, and agreement of my dissection was achieved.

So here's my take on it... the term is diametrically opposed (and I'm sure there is a much more eloquent word for that), it contradicts and, I believe, shows a distinct lack of understanding about this area of the web. Social Media is all about people socialising with each other in dedicated areas/platforms on the web; whether these are dedicated networks, blogs, forums,booking marking sites, video and photo sharing sites etc. it's people having conversations and having fun. Marketing, however, can be defined as "sales messaging" i.e. the desire to entice someone to buy something. Nothing social or conversational in that is there!

Now take Social Media Marketing away from the web and imagine you're in a restaurant with your friends...socialising. The restaurant is the social media platform; you and your friends sitting around the table is the conversation....then bold as brass someone who has been eavesdropping your conversation, about the recent T Mobile ad' and how great it is, tries to sell you a mobile phone contract! What would your reaction be? Best case scenario would be to ask this individual to politely go away.

Brands gatecrashing such groups, forums, conversations online should expect a similar reaction, as well as being aware that people will tell their friends at how appalled they were by such sleazy tactics. A negative viral campaign. A nice ROI associated with that approach!

So in summary, should you be a business and looking at online engagement/interaction with the people you believe will benefit from your product or service, please steer clear of anyone quoting "Social Media Marketing"... it shows a real lack of understanding. They will only take your money and help you tarnish your brand. 
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