The Secrets of Marketing in a Web 2.0 World

For marketers, Web 2.0 offers a remarkable new opportunity to engage consumers. If only they knew how to do it.  That’s where this article aims to help. We interviewed more than 30 executives and managers in both large and small organizations that are at the forefront of experimenting with Web 2.0 tools. From those conversations and further research, we identified a set of emerging principles for marketing. >>Full Story

Thoughts// My gut reaction initially was to check the date of this article to make sure that I was not stuck in some kind of time warp; after all, we’re “snowed-in” today in Portland!  But seriously…the esteemed Wall Street Journal could not have just discovered the “Web 2.0″ world and how it offers us a “remarkable new” opportunity to talk to folks—isn’t this after all the rag owned by the same Murdock empire that paid a fortune for MySpace years ago?    Apparently, I am not in a time warp; this article indeed was published in the online journal today!  So let’s explore what the Journal has to say about this Web 2.0 business.

So…what is this Web 2.0 thing? “Essentially, it encompasses the set of tools that allow people to build social and business connections, share information and collaborate on projects online. That includes blogs, wikis, social-networking sites and other online communities, and virtual worlds.” Perfect!  How do I start?

  1. Listen to — and join — the conversation outside your site. Consumers tend to trust one another’s opinions more than a company’s marketing pitch. And there is no shortage of opinions online.  The managers we interviewed accept that this type of content is here to stay and are aware of its potential impact — positive or negative — on consumers’ buying decisions. So they monitor relevant online conversations among consumers and, when appropriate, look for opportunities to inject themselves into a conversation or initiate a potential collaboration. Definitely agree.  Think old fashioned media monitoring…but the universe is much bigger…and you can talk back!
  2. Resist the temptation to sell, sell, sell. When consumers are invited to participate in online communities, they expect marketers to listen and to consider their ideas. They don’t want to feel like they’re simply a captive audience for advertising, and if they do they’re likely to abandon the community. Agree;  just like I don’t walk up to a group at a party and start asking them to sign up for my e-newsletter or buy what I am selling, this one also makes sense.
  3. Don’t control, let it go. In an online community, every company needs to find an effective balance between trying to steer the conversation about its products and allowing the conversation to flow freely…companies are better off giving consumers the opportunity to say whatever is on their minds, positive or negative. Let me count how many times Troy and I have said this….
  4. Find a ‘marketing technopologist.’ We coined the term marketing technopologist for a person who brings together strengths in marketing, technology and social interaction. A manager said, “I’d want to see someone with the usual M.B.A. consultant’s background, strong interest in psychology and sociology, and good social-networking skills throughout the organization.” Seriously?   This one irks me on many levels.    Just because conversations have moved online does not mean there’s a need to coin yet another buzz word or look of a certain new type of person for your organization.  What you need is someone who not only has an astute marketing/PR mind and is a people person, but also someone who “gets” technology and the fact that it has become a life-management tool. That’s it!
  5. Embrace experimentation. One Web 2.0 strategy does not fit all, and sometimes the best way to find out what’s best for a given company is to try some things out and see what happens. Try, try and try again…

All facetiousness aside, the advice contained in the article is not inherently bad; in fact, it’s probably a good wake up call for the last bastion of holdouts against this “social media” thing. For the rest of us…it’s nice to finally see the Wall Street Journal reinforce what we’ve been saying for years now!

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