BtoB

Distributed Consumption

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What about this Facebook thing? Should I be doing something there? This is a question my agency is hearing from virtually every client we serve—both consumer and b-to-b. The answer is maybe. If your target spends time in that particular social network—and if you can add value in a strategically relevant way—by all means go for it. Facebook has more than 60 million members. Fifty-four percent of those members log in every day. They spend an average of 22 minutes a day there. That's a significant chunk of time. By creating a presence in Facebook, your brand is simply going where your target is. If you knew your target took the 38 Geary bus home from their office job in downtown San Francisco, you'd probably want to advertise there. Your customers are more tech-savvy and have more options than ever before. They are inevitably interacting with technology in new and different ways. The big lesson for interactive marketers: Your customers are consuming content and services on their own terms. If you don't help them do that, you risk having your content, your brand, your box of soap, simply not be consumed. So is Facebook the missing link in your perfect b-to-b marketing strategy? Of course not. But what Facebook represents just might be. Your target is spending all this time in Facebook (or LinkedIn or Plaxo) because they want to be there—not there because they want to be on your Web site. Earlier this year, Rob Goulding from Google gave a presentation at the ANA/ BtoB Magazine 2008 Business Conference in Santa Clara, Calif. He presented four best practices in the digital marketing arena. At the top of the lineup was a recommendation for companies to “detach and distribute” their content to customers. We as marketers are challenged with a seemingly endless stream of new ways to connect with audiences: Rich media, RSS feeds, social networks, Second Life, ARGs (alternate reality games), widgets, iPhones, interactive TV, the blurring of the lines between the browser and the desktop, even experiential marketing. These are all part of reality today. And they all are about distributing content and services. A client at SAP told me about a developer who was running SAP ERP with his Nintendo Wii console. If that's not an example of users consuming content on their own terms, tell me what is. Unfortunately, understanding this only leads us to Challenge No. 2: Nobody wants to be “friends” with an ad. Fortunately, there's a secret to success: Adding relevant value. If you can make my social networking or mobile or desktop computing experience better, then you've added value to my life, and I'm willing to engage with your brand. If the value you've given me supports your brand strategy, congratulations, you've made a personal connection with me in a deeply relevant way. Adam Kleinberg is CEO of advertising and marketing company Traction Corp. (www.tractionco.com). He can be reached at adam@tractionco.com.
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