Marketers accepting loss of control is on the way to the mainstream


A recent article in Smartcompany magazine titled Web 2.0: The risk, the reward, discussed the opportunities and risks of Web 2.0, focusing on the lack of control in marketing in the new online world. It quotes extensively from lawyers on some of the legal realities of dealing with negative commentary online, and then goes on to quote from me:

If you also prefer to avoid lawyers altogether, another option is to hop into the online debate yourself. Internet strategy consultant Ross Dawson says web 2.0 is really about participation – and any company that ignores this does so at their peril.

“It cuts both ways,” says Dawson, noting that companies can’t choose to be invisible online. Web 2.0 is not about companies deciding to be rated; consumers comment on whatever they like.

“It’s important to understand that web 2.0 is not just about technology. It relates to social trends, including the trend towards self-expression,” Dawson says. “We’re living in a world where people can express their opinions far more freely.”

At a minimum, Dawson sees web 2.0 as a great opportunity for companies to monitor – for free – what consumers think about them and their products, competitors and industry.

“This is an extraordinary tool that any business should tap,” says Dawson, describing web 2.0 sites as a “treasure trove” of customer feedback. “Corporate Australia has been a massive laggard – two or three years behind many countries – in terms of takeup of web 2.0.”

His advice, if people say bad things about your company online, is to avoid lawyers and old-fashioned press releases. “If you want to respond effectively you have to be part of the same conversation. This diffuses the negativity and creates a balance in the conversation.”


Dipping a toe into web 2.0

1. Listen to and learn from online conversations about your product, company, industry and competitors.

2. If you choose to participate, speak honestly and transparently. Move beyond press releases and give your company a human voice. Options include your own blog, posting comments on other blogs, being active at Yahoo Answers and sharing videos on YouTube. [Note: these options were added by the journalist]

3. Provide compelling content in accessible formats. One success story in Australia is podcasts by small wine producers, interviewing experts about their wine.

4. Go to the sites where your lead consumers are going. If you want to know what your customers are going to be doing, you have to engage in it yourself.

Source: Ross Dawson, chairman of Future Exploration Network

Much of this seems to be self-evident to me, but clearly a minority of companies are yet engaging effectively in online conversations. However the shift has begun and these approaches and attitudes are on the way to becoming mainstream.

1 reply
  1. Jay Deragon
    Jay Deragon says:

    The Relationship Economy will usher in a new era of mediums for advertisers seeking to match their product/service with an affinity of YOUR Brands preferences and privileges.
    As individuals further the creation of “their brand”, on numerous social networks, their connections and conversations provide specific data which identifies an audience with specific affinities to branded products and services, an advertisers dream for target marketing.
    The Pundits Perspective
    Market research firm Compete has recently released a report on the convergence of social networking and e-commerce. The report, “s-commerce: beyond MySpace and YouTube,” finds consumer visits to social networking sites have increased 109 percent since January 2004, and page views per visitor have grown by 414 percent in the same time period. “Social networkers” spend less time viewing traditional media and have more discretionary income and a greater penchant for online shopping than non-social networking site users.
    “Some marketers are going to advertise on MySpace and YouTube because they are the two easier places to go. That will be an obvious choice. But the return on investment isn’t going to be any better than traditional customer acquisition campaigns,” he said. “It’s stupid to just advertise on MySpace and assume you are a social marketer. The better thing to do is get your customers associated with your brand.” On the other hand, launching a branded social network means competing for a dwindling slice of end users’ attention. Compete found visitors to social networking services are currently involved with an average of three such sites, and that these would only be willing to add a fourth Web site before losing interest.“Already people are starting to become social-saturated.
    For marketers, there are not going to be as many opportunities as they think there are. So they need to be more creative.” The key, DiMarco says, is to create social Web sites as part of a brand designed to track customers and listen to them at the same time.
    As written about earlier, when you have your own personal network portal you will be controlling your own network of connections, articles, news, videos, documents and related media you want on your personal network portal. As an individual with certain affinities the data from YOUR network will clearly indicate what YOUR network is inclined to purchase at any given time.
    The advertising opportunism is not by having a brand set up THEIR own network rather by forming a relationship with YOUR network. The brand is YOU and the advertisers could win by having a direct relationship with you, if you want them to.
    If YOUR network creates traffic, connections to like minded individuals and businesses then YOUR network is a distribution point of reach. Ones value to advertisers is directly proportional to ones affinities, reach, value propositions, connections and profile. In the Relationship Economy YOUR brand builds trusting and lasting relations.
    YOUR brand creates commerce through sharing value and values. YOUR brand generates revenue and if one wants to advertisE on the back of YOUR brand, they will pay based on your metrics, your value, your reach and your richness. A new paradigm in advertising models and one which will require advertising executives to Rethink their entire approach to The Relationship Economy. The best thing for advertisers to do is get their brand associated with YOUR brand! Then and only then will marketers achieve success in reaching swarms!
    What will YOUR brand attract in terms of advertisers? Time to start thinking.
    What say you?

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