Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Read this before you recommend again.

         I ran into what I think is a fascinating fact. If you are asked to recommend something, you'll probably give it the best possible review. But if the recommendation is going to your friends, you're likely to be much more conservative. This is probably because you don't want to be responsible for a friend's entertainment.

         Recommendations, of course, are at the heart and soul of social media. You might have one group you trust for movie reviews, another for restaurants.

         Amazon is perfectly happy to recommend books on your previous choices, and to go one step further. Based on the thousands of people who bought the book you're buying, they'll recommend another book you might like. This is called "affinity marketing", surely a gift to marketers who knew the value of increasing purchases but didn't always know how to make it happen.

         The big question is what gets people to buy the original product in the first place. It might be a recommendation on social media, but that can't always be counted on.

         For example, did you ever get a social media site to recommend breath mints or a soft drink? Probably not. Movies can't wait a few weeks to get people to attend and a new age-defying makeup may never make it to baby boomers if the only media are online.

        That's why even though advertisers are using social media more and more heavily, and in more innovative ways, they still aren't giving up on traditional media budgets.

        Here's how I look at it. Social media offer amazing additions to the marketer's toolbox. They're additions, not substitutes. The astute marketer knows how to use each medium well, for its unique strengths. Good advertising is more than "messaging". It build brands that make products more valuable, just as social media can hasten the purchase and make it more immediate.

        Just do me a favor. Don't look this blog up on Yelp.

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