The fundamentals of marketing are changing with the mass adoption of RSS. RSS allows the repackaging and redistribution of information into components which can be reused, reassembled, mashed-up, etc. RSS also allows each piece of content to have its own URL. As we transitioned from domains to pages to feeds to tweets, you are seeing increasing componentization of information.
Social Marketing is a direct response to this changing landscape. Social Marketing is the transition away from pre-packaged messaging to evangelism (education before engagement) with focus on user interactions, relationships, influencers, & experiences. Social Marketing represents a continuation of the shift from broadcast messaging to interactive. There are some contributing factors underlying this shift:
- Sheer Size of the Web -According to Nielsen Netview, 168,670,941 active domains
- Volume of SPAM emails - My email example: 715 spam messages caught as of Monday, June 29, 2009 10:22 AM
- Need for Social Search- Search engines are still in their infancy (Google: Results 1 – 10 of about 590,000,000 for marketing)
- Rise of Social Networks – Nielsen puts the interactions on social media larger than web mail as of February
- Amount of Blog Posts- According to Technorati, close to 1M a day that also get pumped into the search engines
Through the linking, repackaging, and sharing of content; Social Media is playing a key role in bridging the information search challenge on the web. My blog is a perfect example of this. I started this blog as an vehicle to provide thought leadership and credentialling in finding a position as a marketing executive. About a month into building the blog, I realized that my traffic had transitioned from primarily being driven by the people that I know and met to inbound links from social media, other blogs, directories, social bookmark sites, etc. Because I am on a subdomain for wordpress, I don’t get the benefit of branding my own domain so search engines really don’t do anything for me. Even if I had my own domain, my posts on marketing show up in the middle of the 590 Million indexed pages on Marketing.
Without the the linking, repackaging, rating, and sharing of content that people do on sites like Twitter(tweets), Facebook(content and people recommendations), Delicious, Digg, News Aggregation sites, Industry hubs, etc, or the blog-rolls or even the large connectors on Linkedin with the LIONs (Open Networkers); how would anyone really find anything on the web.
Hence the challenge to marketing as the traditional ways that you reach potential buyers are being overwhelmed with the amount of messaging; telemarketing, email marketing, direct mail, tradeshows, webinars, etc. A large part of this is that the internet has enabled near-zero distribution costs for messaging, so it is almost as easy to send 10,000 as it is to send one.
The people who repackage and redistribute content or build relationships hubs play an equally important role as the creators. If you have 50 creators of content on a subject, you need one person to assemble, rate, and aggregate this content into meaningful information. The content and relationship distributors really play the equivelant role of market makers for the stock market. Without a market maker, you couldn’t have exchanges. Without exchanges, you can’t get a place to conduct the scale of trades needed to keep a market fluid. This role is going to continue to drive the market for information; in return, drive the impact on marketing. The bigger the size of the information market, the more importance the role of market makers.
That is why social marketing is so critical to marketing at large and why social marketing is changing everything. Think of information as a product that needs distribution. If you now need to make sure you have the widest distribution of content, you need to build relationships with the distributors. The manufacturer with the biggest, strongest distribution network wins. Traditional broadcast models for marketing presupposes a direct relationship. Social marketing presupposes an indirect relationship. If history is an indicator, then the indirect channels have more scale.