The Social Network
I recently watched the movie The Social Network for a second time. As many of you probably know, the movie tells the story of how Facebook came to be. What caught my attention this time round was how important it was to Mark Zuckerberg that Facebook be free from corporate advertisements until it reached a certain critical mass. It had to be perceived as “cool”, which meant it had to be free from the pervasion of corporate brands. Once it got big enough, a corporate advertising platform was unveiled.
According to Computerworld, Facebook’s advertising strategy has three components: “the first will allow businesses to build pages on Facebook to connect with the consumers they are targeting. The second will include a system that supports the spread of marketing messages virally through Facebook Social Ads. Finally, the system will allow the businesses to gather insights into users’ activity on Facebook”.
In his book Socialnomics, Erik Qualman suggests that the corporate world have a presence on social media to monitor what is being said about their products and services and to participate in that conversation. He foresees that the new inbox will shift away from email and move increasingly towards social media as conversations through this channel have an “easier flow to them and replicate a normal conversation” (I guess it also helps that social networks have inboxes of their own that replicate and replace email). This means that companies have to shift away from the traditional one-way communication model and begin a two-way dialogue with their consumers.
Jay Baer suggests that companies approach this conversation with the attitude of helping the consumer and not just selling a product or service to them. Essentially, a company has to build a consumer’s trust and become part of the community.
The movie also highlighted another important feature of social media—watch what you say and do online because it can have both personal and legal ramifications. Qualman underlines this as a big challenge for both individuals and companies. Individuals have a tendancy to “act without thinking” and companies to let their legal departments “suck the life” out of their marketing and public relations departments. Social media is therefore forcing everyone to reconsider how they present themselves to others and how they develop their relationships. There is undoubtedly a growing need for authenticity: to have one’s private and public personas come into alignment… or as the young lawyer said at the end of the movie: “You’re not a *bleep* Mark, you’re just trying really hard to be one”.