podcamp logo smallThis weekend is PodCamp 3 in our good ol’ hometown, Boston. For any readers who are attending, you should make sure to check our the last minute updates. For those of you who are not attending, or who do not know what PodCamp is, I quote here a paragraph from the PodCamp guide:

First, PodCamp is YOUR conference. There’s plenty of open space and plenty of open times on the schedule. The best experience you have might be in a casual hallway conversation. Take charge of your PodCamp experience by deciding what you want to get out of the event, and get it. If you want to grab some old or new friends and have an impromptu session, go for it. More importantly, help out your community. If someone needs help with their laptop, volunteer. If someone can’t find the restroom, show them. See some trash on the ground? Pick it up. Need help? Ask, ask loudly, ask often.”

Both Brennan White and I attended the last PodCamp and this time we are very excited to be leading a session entitled, “Social Media Marketing is Not Evil.” Shameless plug: our session is on Sunday at 4:00 PM.

In many ways, our session has its genesis in the last PodCamp (a story you will hear in the talk), and has been growing and evolving since then. In particular our session will center around three idealogical concepts that have been fundamental to our company since day 1. In preparation for Sunday we have decided to briefly present these core concepts here for review and discussion. We would very much enjoy hearing peoples thoughts on our ideas and other concepts which people consider fundemental to their own new media marketing tactics.

1: “Mutual Value Proposition”

More so than almost any other idea, this concept was fundamental to why we founded Pandemic Labs. Our term for it has undergone some evolution, but lately we have found ourselves telling clients that social media marketing has to be a mutual value proposition. What do we mean by that? We mean that a properly done and successful social media marketing effort must provide genuine value to both the company AND the consumer.

This may not sound all that strange to you, but think about it. The ads that make your favorite magazine twice as thick as it needs to be don’t add any value to you. They benefit the advertiser and the magazine…they do not benefit you. Television commercials just interrupt what you are watching. I bet only a handful of commercials in your entire life have been so entertaining that you wouldn’t have rather been watching the program they interrupted. But many new media methods allow for the marketing effort to provide mutual value. As an example, look at the myUsearch.com blog. This blog doesn’t have company news and thinly veiled attempts to convince you how great they are. It provides genuine information that is useful to college-seekers (consumer value), and therefore drives consumers to myUsearch (company value).

2: “Consumer Primacy”

An offshoot of our concept of a mutual value proposition is the idea of consumer primacy. To get right down to it, “consumer primacy” is just a fancy way of saying, “put the consumer first.” This is a very difficult thing for many companies and brands to grasp. Even many people who have genuinely embraced the idea of mutual value still plan social media marketing efforts based on how those efforts will help their company. When approaching things from this side, you will invariably make a campaign that is more valuable to you than it is to the consumer. It is just human nature…we naturally think of ourselves first.

To remedy this, do and exercise and only think of things that are valuable to the consumer. Make a list…don’t be afraid to list things that would cost your company a lot of money and have absolutely no apparent marketing ROI. Now that you have a list of things that are genuinely valuable to the consumer (informative blog, educational videos, entertaining website, etc…) look at the ideas from your side. Now you can be selfish. Find the one where you can also make it a valuable marketing tool for the company. Approaching things like this will ensure consumer primacy and, in turn, ensure that you marketing initiative is a true mutual value propisition.

3: “Collateral Benefit”

The final concept in the trio is the idea of “collateral benefit.” This is something which can be easily seen in the world of social media. At it’s basic level, it refers to the ability to benefit multiple people by publically interacting with one. We see this all the time on forums. One person asks a question about how to do X with Y. Another person answers. That is a one-to-one interaction…the answerer only had to exert effort to benefit one person. But because the interaction took place in a public forum, everyone else reading that question also benefited from the answer. This is the inverse to the military idea of collateral damage. It is more efficient and preferable to use one bomb to destroy 10 buildings than it is to use 10 bombs to destroy one building each. In our forum example, there might be 100s of people who benefited from the answer, but the answer only had to be given once. It is a clear case of collateral benefit.

With this in mind, we can begin to theorize how marketers can apply the concept of collateral benefit. What if I could could have a positive effect on 10 consumers by interacting with only one? That would save money and time. Ways of doing this are a big part of many of our newest social media campaigns and, as much as I would like to, I can’t go giving away all the details here.


If you are in Boston, you should come to PodCamp3 this weekend. If you can’t make it, make sure to check back here next week for all sorts of good updates and ideas from the conference. I hope you all have a great weekend.

Written by Matt Peters
Matt is the Co-Founder and CEO of Pandemic Labs, and enjoys thinking about, writing about, and talking about social media marketing whenever someone will let him.