Social Networking and Marketing

January 15, 2008 at 12:02 am 1 comment

Seems like every CMO in Silicon Valley wants to know how they can leverage social networking in their marketing. Actually, what every CMO really wants to know is how they can start a social networking company and get so rich on paper they get interviewed on 60 Minutes. But let’s stick with the plausible, shall we?

For the sake of explanation, and at the risk of oversimplifying, let me make a few distinctions. First, you have public social networks. These are sites like Facebook, MySpace, Hi5, and Friendster. These sites are for “socializing” and are generally aimed at 18-25 year olds. Bracketing these are Club Penguin for pre-teens and for those over 50.

Then you have what I like to call business networking sites, the best known of which is LinkedIn. These sites are really for finding people and making connections. They help salespeople find prospects, business development folks find partners, and job seekers get warm intros into companies seeking workers. Again, I’m grossly oversimplifying, but I’d say 80% of the people I know use LinkedIn this way.

Lastly you have private social sites/platforms. Companies like Ning and Leverage Software. These companies let you set up your own communities around your company or organization.

So, that’s basically the landscape. For the moment I’m excluding social bookmarking and submission sites like and Digg. That’s a whole other kettle of fish.

How can you use social networking sites for marketing? Here’s the crash course, broken down by type:

Public Social Networks – Buy advertising on the site that hits your demographic; create affinity for your (consumer) product; conduct guerrilla/stealth marketing (but be careful). What you are really doing here is taking advantage of their numbers.

Business Networks – Buy advertising; show your salespeople and business development team how to network to find leads. You are taking advantage of their connections, basically.

Private Social Networks – Create a new one because it doesn’t exist; replace your tired old developer or partner site with a cool Web 2.0 one to make your company look more with it and have better interactions. Some event organizers are using these to connect vendors with prospects at conferences, which I think is a much more enlightened way of connecting than “Can I scan your badge if I give you a pen?”

There’s a whole lot we didn’t cover, but there are some looming questions. Will 18-25 year olds use MySpace when they are 35, or will they graduate to LinkedIn? Are social networks durable, or will they be replaced by cooler/newer ones every five years? In ten years, will the whole Web be social, obviating the need for these sites over time?

So give it a whirl. Dip your toe in and experiment a bit with advertising on the public social sites.

Oh, and one last idea on how to use these sites in your marketing plans – hiring. We all went to college, but would you hire someone whose interests are “smokin’ blunts (cigars hollowed out and stuffed with marijuana), shooting people and obsessive sex.” Uh, references available on request?


Entry filed under: CMO 2.0, Social Networking. Tags: , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. first social networking  |  September 21, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    first social networking…

    Your topic Social Networking Sites: Dead in Two Years was interesting when I found it on Monday searching for first social networking…


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