Monday, April 25, 2011

Should social networking/marketing be decentralized (a positive experience)?

There is a lot of talk about social marketing these days.

Some feel it is the next big thing -- pushing the valuation of Facebook to billions of dollars.

Others worry that it might be a bubble that will leave us with no real infrastructure or innovation gains when it bursts, and that the best and brightest among us are wasting their time and skill trying to get people to click on ads.

I don't know how social marketing will evolve, but I do know that it did not begin with Facebook. Amazon was one of the first to capitalize on social media -- their user-written reviews surely contributed to their outstripping Barnes and Noble back in the earliest days of online book selling.

I was reminded of the early days of Amazon because I just had a positive social shopping experience there. I went to the Amazon Web site to find a book, but found a book reviewer instead. The reviewer's name is J. Marsano. He did not like the book I was looking for, but I liked something about his review, so I started browsing through his other reviews.

When I read his review of a picture book on Greek Mythology, I ordered it for my grandchildren. I bought the book without hesitation because I had gotten to know Marsano through his reviews. I learned that he lived in Brooklyn, was a fourth grade teacher, had an ipod, worked on boats, was married, was going to get a pet rabbit, bought his wife an ipod docking station for her birthday, etc. It felt nice -- I liked and trusted the guy. So, I took his advice and bought the book.

The process was almost perfect -- it served my purpose and Amazon's.

Only one glitch -- I had a question, and would have liked to send Marsano a message -- to ask for a recommendation for a kids book on Norse mythology. I could not do that through Amazon, so I had to ask it in a comment on his review and hope he sees it. Kind of like putting a note in a bottle and thrown into the sea.

Do we really need to centralize our social marketing and media in Facebook or anywhere else? Would it be better to decentralize -- to add social networking as a feature wherever it is relevant?