Pandemic Labs co-founder, Matthew Peters, is quoted in an article published yesterday in the Wharton Business School magazine, “Knowledge@Wharton.” The article, entitled “Social Marketing: How Companies Are Generating Value from Customer Input,” discusses numerous aspects of the industry. The article is fantastic in its scope and detail, highlighting some great examples of the power of the use (and misuse) of social media, and discussing its evolution into mainstream marketing campaigns. We will try not to quote too much of the article here because it should be read in its entirety by any who are interested in social media marketing and viral marketing. However, we do want to elaborate on some points with which we strongly agree.

One point which find particularly poignant is from an April 2006 blog post of Charlene Li, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research:

“If you’re going to participate as a marketer in the social computing arena, you’ve got to have thick skin and be ready to engage in the messy world of your customers’ opinions. Marketers that have the guts to turn over their brand to the public will in the end win over their customers.”

We have all seen and read about the trepidation felt by marketers at that thought of losing some control over their own brand message. However, as we mentioned in our December 12, 2007 blog post, Are DVRs killing the commercial?, “Advertisers need to move away from a theory of interruption and embrace a theory of facilitation in order to remain successful.” The architecture of the internet has empowered customers with methods of product research and communication, and consumers are becoming decreasingly receptive to the old ways of advertising. Customer loyalty and respect will vastly increase for companies who facilitate the buying experience, rather than just “shouting” their message at as many people as possible. Marketers need to realize that the world where they control absolutely everything just isn’t going to work as well any more.

The article continues by discussing the importance of metrics and trackabilty in the social marketing industry. As Paula Amunátegui Perelló, project manager for new media at Switzerland-based General Motors Europe, says, “traditional metrics won’t do.” Pandemic Labs co-founder, Matthew Peters, is then quoted raising a point about the incorrect way many marketers are viewing social media possibilities.

“People come to us saying, ‘I hear viral video is cool. How do we do it?’ That’s funny, because if a company wanted to do a TV campaign, they wouldn’t walk into [advertising agency] Ogilvy and say, ‘TV is cool. How do we do it?'” The first question companies should ask themselves, says Peters, is, “‘What do I want to accomplish from this form of marketing?’ If you’re a non-profit who wants to drive an unprecedented number of people to a website to raise awareness and money for a cause, then you have a very different goal than a company that wants to strengthen its brand image. The metrics for both would be different.”

Again, we hope that you read the article in its entirety. Pandemic Labs is happy to have been a part of the article and we whole-heartedly agree with GM’s Amunátegui Perelló, when she says, “…social media is no longer a fad. It is a larger evolution of society.”

Written by Brennan White