I’ve been reading Brian Oberkirch a lot since I recently discovered his blog. Today’s post is a great one– he has some practical advice for marketers wanting a piece of the social media pie for their brands: “Really, We Don’t Want to Join Your Social Network.” What he’s saying is make use of what’s already out there. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
Mostly I care about you wasting my time and trying to reinvent what already exists on the Web without reusing it in some savvy way. The wonder of the Web is that it all works together. I know the bumfuzzle around Facebook has confused you about this point, but I swear it’s the case. Instead, what would be much better, what would save you money and me time, is for you to be like the Web. Made up of small pieces that connect just about everywhere. Just add bandwidth & remix. Make use of my friend lists. Make use of my profile. Make use of my verified identity. Make use of my tastes expressed through all manner of metadata. Show me value before you ask me to cough up time & data. Make it simple for your content to roam to where I want to go. Let me remix it and showcase it to my tribe in ways that work for me. Recognize that I already have bookmarking services and a reader.
Indeed. We don’t want to build a community around your brand. On the other hand, we might be willing to let your brand into our community. If you play nice.
But I wonder if this should be worded more strongly: Brands! Play along! Don’t try to reinvent the game, because like it or not, your content is
going to be being talked about, reinterpreted, re-imagined, remixed, mashed up. It’s happening anyways, and if you try to change the rules, you’ll get burned. (Wal-marting Across America anyone?)
Thinking about this in terms that are real to me as a swivel servant freezing here in Ottawa: what happens every time a Member of Parliament sneezes? The blogosphere is on it. Typed a search on “government of canada” on YouTube and the first result? A parody ad that uses the Government of Canada brand as part of the punchline. (And it’s a naughty joke no less.)
So you could recoil in horror at this — or worse yet, have your lawyer send threating letters. Or you could stick your head on the digital sand and ignore it. Then I suspect you’ll find yourself stuck in crisis mode, always reacting to those nasty bloggers/youtubers/facebookers/whoever unfairly trashing your brand on the big, bad internets. Maybe a better way would be to at least try to engage with people on their terms? That’s what Brian’s post also says to me: that doing this might actually be worth a shot.