Ralf HallerRalf Haller November 7, 2009

Beware Social Media Marketing – there are better ways to stay close to customers

Ooops – you might wonder how this headline goes together with our very own services for social communities? In fact it goes very well, as the point I want to make here more or less concurs with this article in Business Week back in May 2009. Gene Marks, who is a bestselling author for small business topics, makes this point there:

We’ve been misled as to the benefits of social networking sites. Many of us are finding that these tools do not live up to the hype, especially for small business. Once we start digging deeper, we’re finding a lot of challenges. Are you thinking of using Facebook, Twitter, or the like in your business? Before you go any further, consider the following myths:…

Most of the marketing departments who start using social media marketing think that they need to get onto Facebook and Twitter first. Actually, there is a much better way, which also makes use of the social community advantages for your market ecosystem: private social communities. Of course many might also mistake social media marketing with Facebook, StudiVZ or Twitter only and see – rightly – no point for their target audiences engaging. Marks also makes this point here (which I also agree with except that I don’t like the examples he has chosen):

Where, then, should a small business owner go online? Often the best social networking sites are specific to business owners. For example, Intuit’s (INTU) social media people are on their own small business community. Another good one is Bank of America’s (BAC) small business community.

The reason I think these are not such good examples is that they start out with the idea to create “small business communities” when in fact there is no such thing as people looking for small business advice but they are looking for accounting, investment, IT, etc. advice. Both do that in effect, of course, but should change their headings I think.

To make the same point less controversial sounding he could have asked “when to use public social media services and when to build your own?”.