Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Social Networks- Good PR?

The question of PR versus advertising has been around for a long time. Al Ries wrote a book entitled, "The Fall of Advertising and The Rise of PR", that describes how PR is better suited to marketing today's products and services. Nowadays, the growth of cheap (land line and mobile) broadband combined with free, easy to use simple CMS software like weblogs, wikis and social networks has empowered users, customers, prospects, and critics to organize themselves on their own terms.

Nothing new about that.

So I chuckled when I read in BizReport about WPP's results from social networking for their customers (emphasis mine).

WPP found that more of their clients were interested in keeping consumers updated on company changes, events and specials and that social networking sites were a good way to do this. However, advertising on social networks was not as popular, leading the company to deduce that social networks are helping businesses but in a different way than originally thought.

From the beginning, many businesses have been interested in creating branded micro-sites within social networks. What this trend report indicates is that this is a good way to connect with a user-base, to introduce new products or to keep consumers updated on sales or company events.

To someone with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. To ad agency, everything looks like a opportunity to sell ads.


Marc Hausman said...

I think WPP's conclusion is spot on. The very nature of social networks (user generated content, opinions/ideas, etc.) lends itself to the public relations discipline which is based on dialogue, rather than advertising.

Anonymous said...

Good post Jeff. Doesn't seem like it should have been a "eureka" moment, does it?

Of course, Google found a way to monetize text search ads, so maybe a new model will emerge. But not in all likelihood from WPP.