Marketing in Social Networks is not Network Marketing

My wife is part of a group of ladies that gather monthly to play a game of Bunco. There is nothing to the game – no skill or feats of strategery can win it.  And they

Marketing in social networks is about the network, not the marketers.

Marketing in social networks is about the network, not the marketers.

really don’t get together to play the game – they get together to simply get together.  Its their time to pursue a little something outside of the mainstream mom-hood.  And they enjoy it.  That is, until someone starts using the gathering to pitch them their latest networking marketing scheme.

Yes, there is a member of the group who isn’t necessarily a regular participant any more, and when they do show up, they end up talking all about their new business and how much money you can make and by the end of the evening have gone from covert to overt and uncomfortable.  Every time that happens, I hear all about how it ruined the evening and everybody was so turned off by it.  I can’t help but think of our current drive to market using social media.

In a great op ed piece written recently by Gareth Kay, he brought up the perspective (albeit semantic) that we ought not to be talking about social media, but about social ideas.  The media has been around and is really nothing new.  People getting together, collaborating, building networks, etc. – that’s nothing new either.  But to focus on the social media aspect is dangerously close to focusing on the means, and not the ends – the technology and not the results.  Marketing within the increasing waves of online social circles means that marketers will have to actually learn to 1. communicate and 2. listen, neither of which modern point-and-click directors have excelled at.

Marketing within the ‘social’ context includes active contribution, focusing on something other than one’s self and, instead of soliciting sales, soliciting collaboration towards a bigger purpose that fuels the social network itself.  When you show up to Bunco night and start pitching your wares, you’re not only way out of line, you’re way out in left field – nobody is there to get sold on your products or services.  They are there for the bigger purpose, THEIR PURPOSE, and you need to tie into that quick or you’re going to be the one not getting invited back to Bunco.

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