Thursday, December 24, 2009

Social media: Two opposing school of thoughts.

Imagine, brand wants to get into social media to get to consumers. Consumers get content and get the brand.

For the brand, it's called strategy - how do you use trade tricks to get your viral video out?

For consumers, it's called manipulation - viral video's popularity is supposed to be organic and reflects true public sentiment and acceptance but is it still, if it's been strategically placed and stimulated by brands?

That's the current debate. How much do brands need to strategize in social media so that it achieves results but at the same time respects and appreciates the trust built in such communities?

From my point of view, I think it's about balance. Yes, brands need a strategy to get through this labyrinth of whole lot of junk, noise and conversations to get to consumers. And that means, we need to know when to do what in order to stimulate conversations, capture eyeballs, etc. But. Having said that, I don't believe in paying people to comment and/or simulate a dramatic conversation just to drive traffic to the site. That I think remains an internal debate for us too.

Paying bloggers/social media owners to post something, is just another option to utilize these channels as media. It's the same as listening to your favourite radio station but your tunes get punctured by ads. At the end of the day, it's up to the blogger to think for him or herself and their readers. Sparks have been approached for ad placement and paid post, while I don't know if it'll be all right for that in the future but not now. While this blog which could be a potential media space, but I feel that my current loyal readers trust me to a certain extent that these posts are original thoughts from Sparks. Not one that is commissioned. And at this moment, I put priority on my readers' trust and comfort over making money. While, this isn't set in stone, who knows in the future, I might?

Paying people to infiltrate forums and blogs to comment and bring favor to the brand, now that's iffy. If these 'people' are recognizable, as in readers know who they are (e.g media with a social site) then fine. But if they are anonymous then it's a little deceiving. And deception is just an untold lie. Yes, this argument can go on forever. But my strong little personal belief is such that, 'if in doubt, DON'T DO IT'. If your gut feeling tells you, doing something like that is wrong, then don't. I know it's a little iffy too for clients to know that social media marketers are depending on 'gut feeling'. But it's time for all of us to understand that this IS the dynamic of this industry. And it's made up of human and emotional thoughts, so it ain't gonna be as clear cut as traditional marketing.

Uh... did I just refer social media as 'industry'?

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