Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Social Media Consumers Look For Best Of Breed
By Joe Marchese How open a social media platform is (e.g. MySpace and Facebook), is fast becoming extremely important. This is because what people who participate in social media are looking for in any social media tool is best of breed. People could use their Facebook status to keep their friends up to date on what's going on, but instead many use Twitter. People could host their videos on MySpace, but instead many still use YouTube. People like iLike or iMeem for music, or flickster for movies, or slide or rockyou for photo widgets, the list goes on and will continue to grow.
Most, if not all, of the functionality provided by niche social media properties could have been provided by the major social networks themselves, just as much of the major social networks functionality could be, and is, offered to consumers by the niche social media properties. The difference is that despite all the bells and whistles, any social media property is only as useful as people choose to make it.
And with how quickly the application market continues to develop better and better tools to improve peoples online and offline lives, there is just too much opportunity for the social media consumer to be totally locked into one platform, unless that platform allows them to utilize all of the best of breed social media applications.
What this means for marketers/investors/partners when evaluating social media opportunities is that they have to ask themselves: Is the platform they are evaluating A) providing a best-of-breed functionality and giving it to people on their main platform/s of choice and/or B) does this platform allow for its members to pull/aggregate easily from their favorite best-of-breed tools. A quick assessment of these points can tell you not only the social media tools you need to be keeping an eye on, but as a marketer, investor, or partner, how you should be looking to work with any particular player.
The same philosophy can be applied to the development of social media presence for marketers. Marketers need to have a presence both at the social media destination site and as tool that people can choose to bring with them to their destination sites of choice. So marketers can look to two parts of the efforts to see if their social media efforts are well rounded: how are they creating or partnering with a best in breed tool (widget or application) and how are you creating and maintaining a presences on the destination (major social networks)? With both components managed correctly, you will see a far better return on your social media efforts, but the first step is to see if you've even thought about both sides.
Because of consumers' demands for best of breed, the social networks themselves are embracing the need for openness. No one, in the democratized world of the Internet, can be all things to all peoples. It's why you see a new API announcement daily in the social media space. The opportunity for marketers is to better identify how they are working with the different types of players in social media, and how their marketing strategy can fit in.
Additionally, they can learn from the strategy of social media players. When developing a social media presence as a marketer, are you allowing your consumers to dictate which pieces/assets they like and to engage with just those, or are you forcing consumers to engage with an entire planed out experience? The later doesn't work when all consumers are looking for is best of breed.
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Joe Marchese is President of socialvibe.
Online Spin for Tuesday, September 9, 2008: