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Marketing To vs. Communicating With

22 Aug, 2008

During yesterday’s Mzinga/Cramer webcast (#mzcramer on Twitter), Taming the Monster Issues with Social Media Marketing,” the panelists (including yours truly) discussed some important issues facing marketers interested in entering the untamed world of online social media.  As user generated content takes hold and anyone with an Internet connection is given a voice (or a megaphone), it is essential that businesses rethink their marketing strategies.

Old School Marketing is Uni-Directional

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During the Twentieth Century, most marketing was unidirectional.  The few who held the power to communicate with the largest audiences were able to spread and maintain control over their message.  There was very little listening in this marketing model; brands and messaging were created and controlled from the top-down with scarce customer feedback.  Marketers who cut their teeth on this style of polished, one-way broadcast messages (and there are quite a few of you) must evolve as people’s communication patterns evolve.  It is time to listen and communicate with your customers.

Social Media Marketing is About Communication

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As I stated during the webcast, the Twentieth Century was a communications anomaly.  Throughout history humans have shared messages through words and images within personal social networks… communities.  These communities tended to be localized and modest in size, but word of mouth marketing (both good and bad) reigned.  We are entering an age when word of mouth marketing—social media—is not only reclaiming its dominance, it is obliterating the idea of uni-directional, controlled brand messages.

Today’s technology provides anyone with the ability to easily re-edit and publish your television commercial, pontificate on your products or expose proprietary information.  Corporate and political press agents and spin doctors will no longer have weeks or days to do their jobs because the user-generated messages can spread across the globe to millions of connected users at the speed of light.

Marketers, the Twentieth Century is over; show your human side, and build a community with your customers.  It’s time to start listening.  Be sincere, and build trust.

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