Filling social gaps? “If you want to do a proper job, use the proper stuff.”

I spent the early May Bank Holiday weekend re-decorating at home, and listening to a popular UK radio station which was repeating certain advertisements including one for a popular DIY product for filling holes in walls – PolyFilla. Not only did this seem to add insult to injury – given my activity at the time – but the advertisement was inviting the listeners to “Find us (PolyFilla) on Facebook”. I confess that I struggle to understand why anyone would want to do that since I could not imagine hanging out on line with a bunch of fellow “fillers”.  Exchanging posts about sanding techniques perhaps? Ultimately I felt that this invitation detracted from the quite catchy slogan “If you want to do a proper job, use the proper stuff”.

On that theme and back in the working world I was catching up on some reading the following week and I saw some of the numerous articles like this one on AdExchanger about companies like General Motors ending their use of Facebook. In addition to this one on ClickZ about the Xerox CMO on Twitter ads saying:  “I’m not sure it works for our campaigns and our messaging”.   She was not dismissing the importance of social media overall, merely emphasising the need to pick suitable channels for your company’s marketing mix.

One of the chief themes coming out of these reports was the need for more user data and metrics from the Social Media giants in order to help companies to measure the success of their campaigns. In addition the need for these companies to realise that Social Media usage for marketing purposes requires a desire to build relationships between their users and their brands rather than necessarily always regarding conversions or monetisation as the only desirable outcome. This was covered succinctly by Kim Kadlec, WW VP Global Marketing at Johnson and Johnson in response to the General Motors news:

“What’s your end game? What are you trying to accomplish? People are there because they love [Facebook]. We don’t want to ruin the party. That’s our challenge,” she said.

social connectionsAnd people really do love Facebook, Twitter and their peers – you only have to look at the user numbers to see this. In addition, social media’s ability to support relationships – not just between users and brands but between users and service providers, personal contacts and information sources has been critical in the more widespread adoption of IT. One of Kim Kadlec’s other comments was about her trip to Phillipines where a family living in a very small house by Western standards owned a TV, a laptop and a mobile phone and the mother used these to maintain a Facebook page and obtain mobile healthcare information.

The influence of engaging users via social channels in terms of promoting the widespread adoption of technology generally cannot be underestimated. This is echoed in a recent GIGAOM article by Curt Monash  entitled “Big Data Hype?” where he states that “Big Data Technology is just another chapter in the ever-growing importance of IT”. The young third-world users whose enthusiasm for Facebook and Twitter leads to an appetite for a wider education and development of scarce IT skills will most likely become the Big Data Analysts of the future.

I can’t imagine them having many gaps to fill in their day.

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