Saturday, April 25, 2009

When Is Social Media No Longer Social Media?

We had a great discussion yesterday with a prospective client who raised a few interesting questions:

If social media is all about authenticity and transparency, can a campaign have a promotional component to it?

Can it be augmented with other media or must it rely strictly on existing peer to peer channels?

Or are these things anathema to the very notion of social media?

I know through my experience in direct marketing that there are those who are almost Taliban-like in their insistence that a creative idea only gets in the way of the offer. That there simply is no room for creativity in D.M. (To put it gently, I am not a fan of this approach.)

Might there be a similar philosophical disparity when it comes to the purity of social media?

Curious to hear your thoughts.


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  1. Community and commerce can co-exist, but COMMUNITY must come first in the design of the promotion. iStockphoto is a great example of this (read about iStockphoto in Crowdsourcing-great book). iStockphoto gives freelance/amateur photographers a way to sell their photos but also supplys them with education, software and importantly the ability to connect and learn from each other. Its like the cardinal rule of hiking, always leave the woods better than the way you found it.

  2. The analogy I would use is product placement. When it's seamless, when it fits naturally into the story, or in the case of ET/Reese's Pieces, actually advances the story, product placement works. So to Dorothy's point, community and commerce can co-exist, it's just that the commerce needs to be highly relevant and compelling to the community.