Sunday, September 30, 2007

Marketing In Social Media? Try To Fit In

Harvard Business School recently published an interesting academic paper about marketing in the social media environment, which includes sites that offer consumer reviews, social networking, trading and user-generated content. The paper -- written by John Deighton, professor at Harvard Business School, and Leora Kornfeld, research director at the Mobile Muse Consortium in Vancouver -- reviews five emerging models for marketing in these environments, and concludes something that might seem a bit obvious: that the "locus of control over meanings" is moving from the marketer to the consumer and is rewarding "more participatory, more sincere, and less directive marketing styles."
Harvard Business School: Working KnowledgeThink of it this way: In peer-to-peer environments, the marketer should be more talked-about than talking. At best, the marketer's role is to "provoke conversations among consumers." At worst, you become the enemy, "attacked with invective or parody." The report goes on to, quite correctly, state that "as marketing strategy grapples with the question of how to work with social media, old paradigms die hard. Marketing may be less a matter of domination and control, and more a matter of fitting in.”

I typically cringe when I see marketers trying to insert themselves into the context of social media, primarily because so many of them are incredibly bad at it. Multifamily has a distinct advantage because you're in the business of creating community... have been for years, even decades. You know when to insert yourself into the conversation and when to get out of your residents' way. Take those same concepts into consideration if you're marketing in online communities and other social media. Take it from Harvard: the best thing you can do is try to fit in.

You can read a longer summary or download the full paper from here.

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