A believer’s (non) apology

Monday Aug 17, 2009
Actual Google Screenshot – thanks Mashable.com for the tip

Actual Google Screenshot – thanks Mashable.com for the tip

Please forgive us.

You know who we are: card carrying members of the social marketing “believers” club.  We’re the people next to you on the train and at the airport diligently working our iPhones to deliver just the right Facebook update or pithy tweet.  We’re the ones that you love to mock over a few drinks on a Friday night.  We feel your disdain.  We observe your disbelief.

Rest assured that we know we’ve gotten carried away.  We know that we have stepped over the line and, for some of you, have breathlessly left all credibility at the door.

We know.

And yet…

What if the fire behind the smoke is real?  What if platforms like Twitter can really change the way we communicate with our customers forever?

What if?

Some of the facts are staggering.  Adoption and growth rates are to the moon.  According to June comScore data, Twitter had grown 1460% YOY, rising to the 52nd largest site in the world – ahead of ESPN.com.  While impressive, that hardly measures Twitter’s real influence.  Engagement by powerful influencers is creating a virtuous circle of momentum (let’s mutually agree to leave Ashton Kutcher and Vin Diesel out of this.)  Perhaps most importantly, global events are being influenced by these platforms.  We are changing our forms of sharing and discourse in real-time.

Still skepticism runs deep – and why shouldn’t it?  A recent study by Pear Analytics suggests 40% of tweets are “babble.”  With the exception of a few examples (@Delloutlet, @Comcastcares) – the clear path to monetizing these platforms for brands remains fuzzy at best.   Both agencies and clients remain unsure of how to proceed or where or how fast.  This, in turn, provides fuel for the many doubters and confuses those who believe so strongly there must be something to all this activity.

So through the snickering I’m still betting on this:

A searchable organic, real-time database of prospects & customers sharing thoughts, likes and dislikes, and rallying cries is enormously powerful.  Twitter certainly knows this – have you seen their homepage redesign.

Over the next few months – we will see more and more marketers marrying the power of this asset with their own communications & servicing infrastructures.  I think this is the starting point, but has still been relatively overlooked.  ”Twitter Ideas” disassociated from the assets, infrastructure and essence of brands are useless , self-indulgent and destined for nothing.  This combination of insight and resource horsepower is where things get interesting.

As more integration occurs, winning and losing ideas will emerge (BTW – there will be some real disasters.)  From these steps and missteps a path will become clear, and from that will come innovation, growth and creativity – the three wise men of marketing.  Brands that do the hard work of thinking about how to include Twitter (and others) in the context of their broader strategy will be rewarded with new and exciting access to customers’ needs and wants, and – above all – their minds.

Then maybe those of us who are knee deep in the Kool-Aid will stop asking for forgiveness and get on with the gleeful business of I told you so.

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November 12th, 2010 | 6:43 pm