Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Technology Component of Social Media

Just how does one scale in social media?

We know that this aspect of marketing is facilitating the passing of a message via humans. We also know that if left to its own devices it may not scale very well. A given message usually decays quickly as it spreads throughout a network; hence the thoughts of Duncan Watts and the "Big Seed". Anecdotal evidence also suggests that social media is very labor intensive - monitoring, tweeting, commenting, etc. does not have the leverage that traditional media does. Adding another flight of impressions generates a bigger result (reach, frequency, leads, etc.) than the effort required to implement.

In an iMedia article on a new approach to delivering social media programs, Cynthia Francis of Reality Digital suggests that technology partners should be part of the agency's offering. Having worked for technology companies and marketing firms; great advice - but for other reasons.

Yes, I'd rather have 10 evangelists than 1 million blank stares but finding another 100 just like the first 10 takes work. It is here that technology could play an interesting role.

Is it likely that social media campaigns will have similar budgets to regular media?
Are technology components, e.g. video mash-ups, experiential ads and sites, facilitated forwarding, etc, the equivalent to a media buy?
What technology innovations will emerge to achieve scalability? (We know about ad serving based on the social graph, but what else.)

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