Thursday, October 12, 2006


Social Distortion

ClickZ ran an article today about the convergence of social media and ecommerce. The firm Compete, which developed the report, even went so far as to attempt to coin a new term "social commerce."

This is likely no shock to anyone who has read the news in the last six months, as there are a lot of attempts currently underway to monetize consumer generated media (CGM). Google's acquisition of YouTube at a not so paltry $1.65 billion shows that there is definite belief this concept has legs. Google wasn't buying YouTube for the traffic and new customers. YouTubers are of the Google generation, and probably don't remember the days when "You got mail" was a buzz phrase and you 'searched' Yahoo by navigating through a myriad of categories. Google was buying a potential revenue goldmine, or at least what they hope will be one.

But to marketers everywhere, the question must be is using someone else's CGM platform and content any different than traditional media advertising, other than an extra layer of targeting? Comments from Compete execs quoted in the aforementioned ClickZ article seem to downplay the role that YouTube and other mass appeal CGM properties will have. We agree with their theory that the best CGM is your CGM.

By hosting the CGM platform and leveraging your own brand, you retain an overall balance of control, while still fostering community and sharing. Corporate blogs and forums are a great example of this. Tesla Motors has a very well read blog about their upcoming Tesla Roadster, a fully electric sports car, based roughly on the Lotus Elise platform. Not only does the Tesla blog have it's own rabid fans, but the blog is often linked to in other forums appealing to everyone from gearheads to environmentalists.

If you have a product of mass appeal to the Gen Y crowd, you can probably see some good results using one of the broad CGM platforms like YouTube and MySpace. But what if you attracted your core customers to your own community, let them post videos wearing your clothing or drinking your energy drink? Then you made it easy to invite their friends to join the action. All of this sudden you have a captive audience of loyal customers, and you have run of the network yourself.


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