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Social Networking versus Personality Based Marketing

News of recession panicked spending cuts, massive government bailouts, and job losses have our nations economy in a tail spin.  Small business owners are forced to find new inexpensive ways to market their business.  Marketing and business consultants at Chamber of Commerce meetings everywhere are touting “Twitter”, “Facebook”, and “Myspace” as saviors.  While it is true, millions of people use these social networking sites every day, the long term business value of the social networking medium is unproven and uncertain?  It may very well turn out that a online social networking paradox exists and much of the online behavior is already irrational.

An 18th century French philosopher named Marquis de Condorcet wrote an essay in 1785 which which highlighted a voting phenomenon that become known as Condorcet’s paradox.  It states that in systems where majority rules, when presented with three or more options, voters can become irrational.

Social networks are not run by majority rules, but when coupled with business needs for revenue, competition for consumer attention can create a fog that obscures the entrepreneurs vision.  Inviting total strangers into a circle of friends becomes the norm and thus the paradox (a statement that contradicts itself).  If your online social network exists only for activities that are anti-social (i.e. ‘give me access to your friends so I can sell them something’), then a paradox exists.

How then can a small business owner take advantage of the massive number of people using these online networking sites?  Keep reading!

Personality based marketing is presenting bits of you for the internet searcher.  The concept is built on the premises that all things being equal, people prefer to do business with people they know and like.  If you love dogs, or more specifically Labrador Retrievers, then you have a leg up on the competition when the consumer in question also loves Labrador Retrievers.

Writing single topic focused articles on business and personal things give you more keyword search opportunities on the internet.  For example, if you search on Google for “fishing east portland” the first search result will take you to a blog article written by my friend, Ken Bear Cole from Fishing with Bear.  While this example shows more the power of localized personality based marketing, it proves the concept of Google indexing on personal interest based business writing.

The fishing east portland search result example will be online forever.  The biggest challenge with online social networking sites is the never ending changes that MUST take place in order to keep participants interested.  Once the site changes directions, the residual link opportunity disappears.  Put another way, if the friend of a friend who gave you a contact leave the network or decided to de-list you as a friend, then you have lost the connection to your potential customer immediately!

Social networking sites are also subject to online predatory actions.  In business it is inevitable that someone will become unhappy with your product or service.  Your business name or brand could be hurt greatly by an online predator who chooses to slander you in front of millions of readers.  While this potential exists even if you don’t participate on an online community, the chances of upsetting a total stranger whom you added to your friends list, just because they asked, is much higher.

Social networking is delivered more in rapid short bursts than well thought out deliberate communications.  Therefore the potential for misunderstandings are much greater.  Twitter, for example, limits your tweets to 140 characters or less.

While this subject is too broad to cover in a single article, our general impressions of social networking versus blogging have us leaning towards business blogging as a better long term marketing medium.  Just to be sure, however, we have initiated several online social networking tests and will report on a regular basis our progress.  Stay tuned!

Ed Bejarana

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A business blog allows you to create search engine rich content you can share on social media sites and bring new traffic to your company website.

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