Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Is social media an industry or just a channel?

Arguments have been raging in the past 3 or 4 months about whether or not social media is an industry ready to explode or just a nifty new media channel that marketers can make the most of free of charge.

To be able to make such an analysis its imperative to first define the terms 'industry' and 'communication channel'. An 'industry' can be broken down to mean a collection of like enterprises in a particular field that exist due to the generation of revenue whilst on the other hand a communication channel fits within an industry to promote a brand's marketing activities.

On first thought it would seem obvious that by the definition above social media acts only as a communication channel as it is simply a promotional tool. It does not seem that we are not at a stage yet where we have a vast collection of like enterprises and definately not at a stage where many are making much revenue let's be honest!

However any industry needs time to develop.

One can't forget that in the early days of the internet 10 year + ago, all businesses had was a website. There was no google to drive traffic to a website, there was now adsense to generate revenue for a website owner and no-one had heard of the term 'SEO.' Moreover there was no display advertising, no websites where yo could buy, sell or trade, nowhere you could buy a concert ticket over and certainly no such word as 'the digital economy.' Therefore an industry can devleop only with the progression of technology and the innovation of businesses. Hey, was there an automobile industry when Henry Ford first bought out a machine that can transport people at 10km per hr? Absolutely not.

So it is with time that industry grows and can generate revenue for itself. At this stage social media can only be called a communication channel becasue at the moment that's all a marketer can really do with it.. But in the very fast moving world of the digital economy it surely won't be long now before social media businesses are born and the genuis of these businesses transform the channel into a money making machine.

I'm ready to jump on!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

How can marketers make the most out of social media platforms?

So we are now living in an age where everyone is talking about the recession. How will the recession affect you? How will you affect the recession? How will we get through this recession? It seems that there is only one criteria for a PR agency these days to get their word out. Stick the 'R' word in your sell and you will be reading about your company in the following day's news!

With this is mind and marketers jobs' on the line, a new era of marketing thought is beginning to emerge with vigor. Its all about marketing your offering cheaply and effectively throughout what has been the print media's love child of the last 24 months - social media networks. There is no doubt that Social media platforms are the future of marketing your brand online but at this stage of the social media prodcut life cycle marketers are still scratching their heads and waiting for someone to take the lead.

At this stage MySpace is clearly the leader of brand integration whilst the others are still searchng for a unique advertising offering. For two years now MySpace have been penetrating the lives of their users via display media and page sponsorships. And now as pioneers of the industry they are giving brands the opportunity to integrate themselves in online video content. This ladies and gentlemen is the new frontier. With 2008's MySpace Road Tour already under their belts MySpace have now just launched the latest video series, Kiss or Miss (www.myspace.com/kissormiss) where brands can cheaply indulge in the quirky, flirtacious and fun environment of the dating series in a way never seen before. With the ability of product placement and further branded content pieces housed on the home page of the series, brands can now effortlessly and subliminally insert their brands into the subconsciousness of their target market.

The beauty with these integrations is that the brands are helping to create engaging and entertaining content which is the one of the key reasons why users log on to a social network in the first place. Another advantage of alliging with content such as this is that the content piece ingrains itself into the world wide web and will never be deleted, thus it has potential to be passed on virally until the day the internet is superceded by something with far greater reach. Dear God.

Internet users are driven to social networks as they provide an online world which is now becoming very realistic one to those who are addicted users. As this trend continues marketers have to find themself playing in this environment in a way that will encourage viral interaction and thus encouragement of further social networking. It ticks all the boxes for a marketer during these times. Its cheap, it's innovative and best of all - it's 100% measurable. These 3 criterion just may keep more marketers in the job in the troubled times ahead.