The Email Diva is fascinated by the sociological/anthropological aspects of social networks, and eager to understand the impact of the new communication medium on the practice of marketing. And yet she feels a little slimy saying that.
Do I wish to exploit these networks for my clients' gain? Well, yes... sort of. But the key is to be an authentic participant, transparent in your motives and respectful of the channel. Do we need to follow George Burns' advice: "You've got to be honest. If you can fake that, you've got it made"?
I say there's a better way.
Channel some of those marketing dollars to a charitable cause, and let your association with that cause be your entrée into the social network. Will participants know that you may have commercial as well as charitable motives? Certainly. But if you are helping to heal the sick, feed the hungry or solve one of the many pressing problems of our day, does anyone really care?
A fabulous example of this is (Product) Red. As the MySpace page proudly explains: "MySpace is partnering with (RED) because we think it's a great idea, and we want to use the power of our community to make it even stronger. (RED) teams up with iconic brands to create (PRODUCT) RED-branded products, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Global Fund, to help women and children with HIV/AIDS in Africa.... There are millions of people on MySpace, and if we all joined (RED), we could raise a lot of money for the Global Fund just by shopping for things we already want to buy.... Collectively, our MySpace (RED) community can do good in a big way!"
Wouldn't you like to have nearly 600,000 MySpace friends gushing, "I seriously have every (red) product ever," and "If the whole world came together & ca(red) about world hunger, disease, poverty, the dis-enfranchised, etc ... can you imagine what could be achieved???.... I'm SO inspi(red) by all this, and I'm going to do my bit to spread the word!"
As this great blog entry by Jeff Mollander, discussing Converson's Rob Key, points out, "ROI must be re-defined and, in fact, placed under a constant, inherent desire to contribute to the community." Key advises that we need to ask "'what can I give?' and you will get your return."
Yes, companies have been supporting charitable works all along, but have they ever done it like this? It's a whole new world out there, and it's time we got onboard, for the good of all.
The Email Diva
Send your questions or submit your email for critique to Melinda Krueger, the Email Diva, at email@example.com. All submissions may be published; please indicate if you would like your name or company name withheld.