Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Socially Fatigued?

There is a lot of talk about marketing within social networks these days and is one area that I have playing around in since I joined LinkedIn in 2004. For the past several months, there have been signs that perhaps there is some exhaustion occurring. That anyone that is already well connected is not interested in forming new networks - even as those networks may offer interesting value propositions for anyone willing to invest some of their social capital in starting a new network on another site.

In an article from the UK's The Register, they talk about social 'fatigue' - the notion that people are tired of social networking sites and that the Facebooks and MySpaces of the world are on the decline in engagement numbers such as pages viewed and time spent. That folks are just plain "bored" with these sites.

While I do not completely agree with the article, I do believe there is some shifting occurring as users of social media look for value in the technology they are using to connect with each other.

In my attempt to keep up with new technology, and after being flooded with requests to join one of the newest sites,, I decided to take the leap and join. During the setup, I imported my LI contacts and blasted everyone in my network by accident. Ahh yes, usability - or lack thereof.

While there are some bugs that need to be worked out, I like their concept of using the network to build your reputation, but how many networks can one manage?

While a decent portion of my contacts joined me on Naymz, I did get some mail from some of my contacts who declined, saying:

"What are you seeing here that Linkedin isn’t doing? Just debating the need for “one more” social networking site."

And another:"Just wanted to say thanks for the invite to Naymz, but I'm going to stick with Linkedin ... So ... PLEASE don't think I'm blowing you off ... never would. Just sticking to the Linkedin for now."

The referenced article above and e-mail from some of my colleagues is indicative of how much time it takes to invest in building a network, and the value that network returns. I also believe that it is up to networking sites to keep up with consumer demand for better tools and capabilities - giving people a reason to stay beyond the novelty.

Marketers can rejoice, while some of the sites are seeing a decline, there are ways to learn from how people are using social networks and interacting online. That the oldest form of marketing, word-of-mouth, is being enabled by the latest in technology. If you can figure out what's a fad vs. what has true value, harnessing socially connected individuals can be a powerful, very efficient, retention and acquisition tool.

What do you think? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Welcome LinkedIn Group Members

Thanks to those of you that have recently joined the new 'Digital Insights' LinkedIn group. The group was set up to network and share ideas on current and future digital marketing trends. If you are interested in joining the group you can click the link below. In the spirit of creating active participation with marketers, this group is subject to approval and you must meet the following simple criteria:

1. You must currently hold, or once held, a marketing role within an organization.
2. Actively participate in the sharing of opinions, comments, and ideas on this blog.

>View the invitation here.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Road to Nothing

I was driving home from work tonight, as I normally do, thinking about the day that I had. As I do day in and day out, I drove past a new housing development that is being built just a mile or so from my house. For years, planners and developers had talked of 5000 homes to be built on an enormous tract of land in the Southwest suburb of Richmond, VA.

They've recently begun work on constructing the walls that will grace the entrance outside of this new subdivision; grand masonry designed to get the attention of those that drive by, inviting prospective buyers to take a look beyond the walls. New flags wave at passers-by touting the great ammentities that await those willing to take the plunge and invest.

Today I decided to take a quick detour and see what the fuss was about. As I drove in I was impressed by the smooth, freshly painted asphalt road that lead up to...nothing.

Nada. Zero. Zilch.

Ok, well a sales trailer. But really, there was nothing.

Problem is, the housing market is in the dump, and this neighborhood is among a number of new developments in our area starving for folks willing to fork over a small fortune for new construction.

Think about being a home developer for a moment. Your job is to tie up huge amounts of cash in land for years, hoping to suck out what you can once you drop a house on it and sell it. I thought, sadly, what it must be like to be the marketing group for that developer doing everything they can to get someone to buy a house.

The recent activity at the entrance is obvious. They need buyers. They got my attention to come in, but did not deliver on the "promise" made at the curb. Perhaps they could have waited a bit to have a few models built, but then again the market is down, so any attention is good attention, right?


As marketers, it is our duty to provide sustained value to customers for the products or services we sell. Getting customers interested in what we sell is a matter of leveraging consumer insight, market conditions and trends, and creating the channel for which to communicate. If you do it right, and mix in a little bit of gut and experience, it should be pretty easy. Delivering on the promise, enabling a conversation about it, and sustaining interest of what you bring to market - now that's the hard part.

What do you think? Share a comment.

'Til next time!