Thoughts on Product Marketing in Social Media

Product marketing is surely not limited to advertising and promotion, but I would like to focus on this function of the job for this particular discussion. There is a great deal of debate about the role, effectiveness and ROI of social marketing efforts. The explosion of direct or indirect social interactions between people, using social media platforms, offers marketers two new opportunities:

  1. To learn (research) market conditions very economically and as a continuous exercise, rather than random events (focus groups). A huge surprise to many is the willingness of individuals to disclose and share their private and quite specific data on the public domain of the Internet.
  2. To practice “trust-based marketing” and “peer-to-peer marketing” methods in an effort to effectively reduce the uncertainty of a product purchase.

Elliot Schreiber – Clinical Professor at Le Bow College of Business, Drexel University, teaches courses in brand and reputation management. He has written in his blog:

“The best way is to look at the product from the outside-in, the way the customer sees it and to understand the needs and interests that determine the buying decision. I would suggest that there are two basic variables driving buying decisions: 1) the amount of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) that the customer has in making the decision to buy; and 2) the complexity of the buying decision.”

Traditional marketing “push” methods are generating less and less return on their investment, as new technologies in traditional channels (Tivo, DVR, etc) help customers avoid advertising messages, and offer very little accountability. Pursuit of the same behavior among the new channels (Internet, mobile, etc) will cause a similar backlash. There are already browsers and plugins, enthusiastically discussed on Twitter, that enable the blocking of these advertising messages.

Glen L. Urban of the MIT Sloan School of Management published a paper called “The Trust Imperative”

“…the Internet is a great enabler for consumer power – consumers are more educated and more informed than ever before. Consumers now have more tools with which to verify company’s claims or to seek out superior product options. At the same time, companies have less power to push messages onto customers. Companies must decide what to do in the face of this overwhelming convergence of forces. One answer is to “push harder” with traditional marketing methods to torment customers. Another choice is “trust based marketing” and partnering with customers to jointly succeed.”

Like in any evolutionary development there are challenges to overcome:

  1. Relevancy – the scale and the span of channels help to generate enormous volumes of data. Technology providers are more attuned to aggregation and management of new channels and more data than with providing actionable, filtered, relevant information; perhaps because there is too little process thought leadership is available. There are good monitoring or “listening” technology tools available on the market, however buyers (marketers) are often more interested in what channels they are monitoring than with “why” they are doing it and “what” they are going to do with the discovered information as illustrated in this “On Twitter, information beats Sentiment” blog post.
  2. Authenticity – some people have always tried and will keep trying to substitute better product or better marketing with shortcuts of misrepresentation and outright fraud. Transparency of customer feedback practices is emerging and there are technological efforts under way to reduce the impact of those who are “slow” to learn.

This is surely not a complete list, but may be a good start. Your thoughts and comments are always welcome.

This entry was posted in Market Intelligence, Product Management, Product Marketing. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Thoughts on Product Marketing in Social Media

  1. Attempts to control product marketing in social media will inevitably fail.

    Paying people to blog or promote products will always give itself away in time.

    The core of Trust based marketing for the company or Organization or practice or individual is not who you trust but rather who trusts you.

    The internet puts the word of mouth numbers researched years ago on steroids. The two or three people and individual will tell about a positive experience is now multiplied by somewhere between 10 and 1000. But the data about reactions to negative experiences was always higher.

    The internet makes negative reactions visible to 10 to 100 orders of magnitude more people. The mre visceral the negative reaction the higher the magnitude.

    Why? Because that’s how humans are hard wired.

    Jerry Fletcher, The Networking Ninja http://www.NetworkingNinja.com

  2. Gregory says:

    Jerry,

    Thank you for your comment. Somehow it got “arrested” by our spam filter, as we do not manage the comments on this blog. Sorry for delay.

    You got a very good point – fear is a stronger motivator than pleasure.

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