My friend Alberto asks me what I think of this post by another italian blogger, Lorenzo Cassulo. I tried answering on Twitter and found it predictably limiting, so I am forced to hijack the conversation.
Lorenzo focuses on one part of the equation – Social Networks – even though, he says, Social Media are more than that.
I honestly have no opinion on whether Facebook makes us more stupid or not – what I can share is some anecdotal findings distilled in our 30 or so projects done for big Corporates on Social Media so far, in Italy and abroad; we obviously focus on identifying and infleuncing the places where people make (or change) their opinion about something, be it a product, or a brand or whatever. Some interesting “statistics” (shudder…):
- researching a topic on Social Media entails fuzzy modeling; people don’t think in keywords, but in concepts
- when you critically look at discussions of a topic on Social Media, opinion shaping ones are between 3% and 9% of the total – see it the other way around: on average 95% of what you find is irrelevant crap
- when you rank the sources of opinion forming discussions, the top 20 sources are – on average – made up as follows: 20% = NewsGroups (remember those?), 10% = blogs, 0.1% = Social Networks, 69.9% = discussion Forums on websites. Social Network interaction might be numerous, but it is usually very shallow and gives very little insight into consumers minds; we find it ill-adapted for a marketeer, even though it’s a perfectly viable promotional vehicle, and as such, it drives allegiance to a brand. Ditto for blogs and bloggers.
I think marketeers are discovering that their clients have embraced social life on the web with a vengeance and have understood perfectly well that it powerfully enables (or digitally enhances, if you prefer) a trait of human nature which is as old as humanity itself.
We are finding that when you articulate this complex story in the frame of a changing marketing mix, companies understand this. It’s hard to do it in 140 characters, though.