Sometimes, I Don’t Want to Be “Social”

It seems that the debate continues as to the best ways to monetize (read: make a buck for you non-business jargon types) and effectively use marketing tactics to reach the millions of active participants of social networking sites.

As Kelly and Matt noted in recent discussions in our IMC course, social networking sites like MySpace give companies the opportunity to have a website without the hassle of building one from scratch — especially local, small businesses that have more of a grassroots following, for example.

However, as Matt asked in his discussion post, are social networking sites becoming too much an avenue for advertising – and blatant, obnoxious advertising at that? He cited the example fo visiting MySpace only to be greeted by an entire screen that was covered with bacon strips (an ad for Wendy’s Baconator sandwich).

I concur with these sentiments and feel that sometimes I just don’t want to be “social,” nor do I want to be bombarded with ads and marketing messages that I didn’t choose to receive, especially on a social networking site.  To be honest, I get tired of being “poked,” offered virtual beers when I would rather grab a real one from the fridge, or accept the latest app from a friend, like the lil’ green patch invitations for virtual plants that I often receive via Facebook.  Besides, what will my online friends think if I continue to accept such online tokens?  Worse, as a student of marketing, none of these types of interactions have made me want to leave my computer and go buy a daffodil, case of Guinness, or “poke” someone in real life at that moment.

I’ve always found the value of social networks to be that you can specifically filter with whom and what you interact.  So, for example, since I enjoy an occasional cigar, the Rolling Stones, and documentary films, I’m likely to seek out groups of like-minded individuals on Facebook. 

However, a banner or Google-type sidebar ad in the margins of the page that advertise the same subjects just don’t do it for me.  On a social networking site, let me find you, not you, as the marketer, trying to shove a message in my face under the guise of “targeting” me because of a group of preferences that I’ve established.

The root of the successes of MySpace and Facebook and LinkedIn is the convenience they offer in connecting me with friends and colleagues and like-minded people.  If marketers keep the connections aspect in mind, social networks can work as a marketing tool.  As an organization, put a page out there, and let your fans and consumers seek YOU out and “friend” you.  Don’t force it. 

The New York Times, via NYTimes.com, has partnered with LinkedIn to offer a unique social networking connection.  Their partnership allows for targeted results to be delivered to users.  For example, those working in the energy sector, as identified via LinkedIn, can receive energy-related business articles from the NYTimes.com site.  While convenient, and yet another way to get the NY Times and LinkedIn brands in front of people, the ultimate result still seems to be the ability to offer greater convenience to time strapped users.  How, then, can this be monetized and made into a true marketing venture without being intrusive? 

Some of the seemingly “cutting-edge”  (if you, the reader, will allow me to use such an overused, worn out term) widgets and apps that were the foundations of sites like Facebook have become annoying.  At the same time, companies that aren’t quite sure how to actually market with these types of apps, but still press onward with building them to prevent  anyone from saying they don’t have a “Web presence” as part of Web 2.0 or whatever the latest buzz term is, can actually be alienating consumers further.  Like social networking itself, let me, as the consumer, find you.  As a marketer, you’ll make more (virtual) friends that way, and, ultimately, get your message out in an unobtrusive, genuine way that’s more believable.

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2 Responses to “Sometimes, I Don’t Want to Be “Social””

  1. You sometimes avoid recreational activities or turn down social invitations. Konner Advertising

  2. mattsmouth Says:

    I laughed when I saw a “My Name is Earl” frontpage ad on MySpace and can even handle seeing Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens dancing along the edges of my screen, but it was something about the bacon strips that really stuck in my crawl with the MySpace advertising. And don’t get me started on the annoying Facebook applications. I totally ignore the pokes and the invitations and the…for lack of better words…crap like that. It’s overkill.
    Matt

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