Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Charting the Evolution of Social Media Marketing

I’m indebted to Tom Martin for his morning Tweet with the link to Jerimiah Owyang’s article on the future of the social web. I’m working on my final summary for the social media class, and this article and the chart it includes really hit the mark. My own odyssey over this semester has highlighted how badly we need to understand the strategy aspects of social media marketing and how hard it is to do in the midst of constant change in the media themselves and how customers use them.

According to Owyang’s analysis we are now in the era of social functionality, moving into social colonization. I see as especially relevant his comment on consumers in the era of social context—that consumers will opt in to share information in return for relevance. I’m reminded of my exhortation last week to “Ask Them!

He identifies five contexts:
• The community
• Location
• Social
• Behavioral
• Preferences.

Note that consumers control all of these contexts, from the communities with which they affiliate to the information they choose to reveal to marketers (in return for value). Many behaviors can be observed online and mined for their implications. Marketers will have to continue to do that until they can make direct, personal connections with customers and potential customers and engage in dialog with them.

At that point “Ask Them!” still seems to be the most accurate and straightforward way of finding out what customers really want—and that may usher in the era of social commerce!

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