How to catch a fish

I’ve been speaking to a few folks from Fortune 5000 companies that don’t understand the social web, this post is intended to propel them forward, I’ll be as succinct as possible.

The goals of the traditional web marketing program is to create a ‘funnel’ and throw out lures, like search campaigns or microsites to get prospects to come to the corporate website.

While luring prospects to your corporate website doesn’t ever go away, strategists need to consider that communities are organically forming on the social web. In these communities, real relationships form and grow, therefore trust is higher than the irrelevant corporate website.

A migration has occurred, so like the savvy fisherman, the marketer should fish where the fish are. The one caveat being, in this case, the fish are certainly in charge, so be sure to listen, understand, then be prepared to participate for the long term.

  • nmw

    I wrote a little piece that was sort of an introduction to the “Wisdom of the Language” about a year or so ago:

    http://www.squidoo.com/finding

    Companies like ebay (shopping.com) microsoft (live.com) and J&J (baby.com) and countless others have caught on to this “community” thing.

    Google says it’s still trying to figure out social….

    Tick, tock, tick, tock, ….

    🙂 nmw

  • I’m speaking to a group of about 70 small businesses tomorrow, most of whom are clueless about the way the Web works. So, it’s not just the giant corps that lack understanding, it’s SMB’s as well.

  • J.O,

    I’ve heard that in certain industries – like autos – shoppers may be heading back to corporate sites. Could be that those site are offering more of a social experience, but I’m with you that generally companies are barking up the wrong Web, so to speak. Like you, I still see too many clients investing inside the firewall instead of outside. Funny how many clients think adding a white paper to their product page for product XX will have more lead gen impact that actually getting their asses onto twitter.

    Scott

  • Scott

    Yes, those car sites are often high on interaction, high on customization and personalization and really embody when a website can do.

    It focuses on the fantasy experience of owning that car, rather than trying to beat you over the head on why to buy it.

    But let’s not forgot, that many car considers will use the social web (reviews, ask friends, or other owners) what they think of those cars before becoming a buyer.

  • BTW Forrester user experience research scored the lexus site as being one of the best.

  • Glad to hear your research is similar, and I agree that the social Web must a complement to whatever you’re doing on your site. By the way, I’d love to get your opinion on an new ad unit one of my clients is launching new week. Can we connect separately? It would only take you a minute to form a reaction?

    Thanks!

  • nmw

    @Scott I agree — twitter is another good example (see e.g. my explanation of why Google prefers twitter to its own Jaiku: http://twitter.com/nmw/statuses/683260122 :).

    I just search for that using http://terraminds.com/twitter/query?query=twitter%20jaiku and was absolutely amazed to find some php script had buried the twitter vs. jaiku results under about 6 or 7 pages of php automated tweeeeeeeets ( see http://twitter.com/blueace/statuses/686029742 ;)…

    I agree: it’s important to be present in this space — but I also think that there is a dearth of expertise in how to communicate appropriately (and I feel Jeremiah is doing a great job in raising awareness for these and related issues 🙂

    nmw

  • @J.O.

    These car sites can be compelling, and generally attractive, but I guess that doesn’t make them good, at least not in relation to spreading the word on their cars. So yes, as you mentioned in your comment, the social web is important, and companies have to have them in mind while building a marketing strategy. But, I still believe content is more important. If those same car sites created content and facilitated its distribution, then the word would filter into social networks. What’s interesting is that it would distribute after being complemented, or changed in some way, by those who filter it. And that adds certain level of personalization to the content, which can improve its legitimacy.

  • Awesome. I am always making the fish/pond speech!

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  • Damn it!
    I hate it when I write something in my blog & post it, then check Jeremiah’s site only to find out he’s written something very similar a few days before.

    http://press20.blogspot.com/2008/02/hunter-vs-fisherman-part-1.html

    Lets see how far we can push this analogy.

    Hayden

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  • J.O,

    I've heard that in certain industries – like autos – shoppers may be heading back to corporate sites. Could be that those site are offering more of a social experience, but I'm with you that generally companies are barking up the wrong Web, so to speak. Like you, I still see too many clients investing inside the firewall instead of outside. Funny how many clients think adding a white paper to their product page for product XX will have more lead gen impact that actually getting their asses onto twitter.

    Scott