Saturday, May 08, 2010

The Limits of Social Networking

As a practical matter, I have been using facebook to both build buzz and gain market knowledge for my new Zeus Digital Theater project. I started the facebook page in November at the behest of my 15 year old son, John.

John was right that it would be a good way to reach out to the theater's main demographic, teenagers. With the facebook page, I have been able to get teen boosters talking about the new theater which should open October 1st this year. In addition, I have been able to gain significant insights into how people viewed the new theater, what they expected from it and what they disliked about the competition.

While the Facebook page works for the market analysis and the buzz building, it fails in the traditional "call to action" marketing. If I put up some call to action on the page, I do get some response. However, without a strong reward (such as a t-shirt give away), it does not register as high as one would expect from "fans".

As a result, I believe the theater will need to use a reward based call to action system that is based upon email and text messages instead. You see, with facebook, fans see a stream of updates on their wall. If you post something on the Zeus page, it is posted by date (default) which means that if the fan has lots of other activity after my post, then my post will be buried way down their wall. If the fan only gets on their page once or twice a week, then they don't see it at all. In other words, Facebook has lots and lots of noise. Noise, as any marketer knows, is the enemy of messages.

So while Facebook gets lots of press, it is only one tool in the arsenal of the modern marketing package. And just like any marketing message of the past, a call to action must have some time related benefit to the consumer. Otherwise, it is just noise.

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