Social Marketing

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Today The New York Times had a cover story on geolocation dating services. If you’re looking for a date and have a smart phone these new apps tell you who is nearby and available. Text, text, plan, plan and you can grab a drink with little social awkwardness. The services are Grindr, Bendr, OKCupid Locals, and How About We.

I was a doofus at bars as a young ‘un and couldn’t walk up to interesting girls with a good rap. For someone in the selling business it was a skill I needed to work on. Had I an app for that, would I have learned the skill faster? 

Here’s my take, socially inept kids hide in their cell phones. Heads down, active in the ether, they appear to be busy. Some kids feign being on the phone to look popular so they can troll for interaction, they hope will come their way. Not good. Unless these are kids who might never make it out of the house to begin with. I suspect that these geolocation apps will soon come with “sorry” buttons so users don’t have to deal with ending these pseudo dates.  Rather than look someone in the eye and say “Thanks for meeting with me but…” the daters will simply hit sorry and the app will ping the date is over. (I can just hear these unique ping tones, ringing across the bars of NYC in 2012.)  The human behaviorists and sociologists are going to have a field day with this stuff.

We need to move beyond a dumbed down utility with apps and think about skill enablement and development. Peace is not an app. (Or is it?)

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Social Media and Social Marketing have caused me today to alter the creative brief format I’ve used for over 15 years.  I borrower it from McCann-Erickson in the 90s, added a cherry and started cranking.  The original brief was written, I suspect, by Peter Kim, then the top strategy and biz-dev dog at McCann.  Mr. Kim has since passed, RIP.

The part I changed this morning had to do with the “Living Breathing Target.” Living Breathing connoting more of a behavioral look at the target than demographic — part of the secret sauce.  Today, the brief loses the “t” word and gains the word “customer”.  I debated using “prospect” but chose not to because as someone smart once said about marketing “nothing happens until someone buys something.”

In the social marketing world target is almost militaristic. Site and fire.  But the best marketers don’t view people as targets; they see them as buyers, users, and experiencers. Now, I’m sure you can read an Ogilvy or BBDO position paper from the 60s and get the same shtick, and good shtick it was, but here’s the social media twist.

While most social media agents today tell you the consumer is in charge, they ‘re wrong. They will tell you there needs to be a dialogue, and in in this case they are right. Marketing is no longer solely about broadcast and transact; there is a new bidirectional requirement. Consumers have a POV and they often log on and share it.  But consumers should not be left undirected with their points of view. They need to be herded. And herded around brand planks and brand values.

Customer feedback is not a plank. Price and coupons are not planks. Engagement is not a plank. The job of the marketer and his/her agent today is to find the brand building qualities of a product or service, organize them, package them and socialize them.  Targeting is passé. Peace!

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