About a month ago Shel Isreal wrote a post Two Social Media Camps in the Enterprise, that described 2 social media camps, one focused on marketing ends and other wanting to keep social media more pure and not polluted by marketing interests. On that post I commented that I am between both camps but I did not consider what really put me there. I later realized that I’m noticing that the marketing camp is actually made of 2 camps itself.
On the pro marketing side you have one camp made of social media conversationalists who are working to foster on-line conversations to build affinity in the products and brands they represent. And on the other side of the pro marketing camp is one looking at social media as an audience to target. This camp is leveraging smart semantic tools to target content in banners and sponsored spaces at the dialogue.
I put myself in the marketing camp that is focused in and on the conversation, rather than the one that is focused on promoting content at the conversation. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t think one is right or should exist over the other. By being in one camp I believe you can appreciate or understand the other camp. Having a Bachelors degree in advertising I have a great appreciation for the value and the importance of targeting controlled messages to a key demographic. It does serve a purpose, but I just don’t think it’s social media.
Again, nothing wrong with it. I believe it is smart media. I believe it is leveraging social media techniques… but bottom line it is still a broadcast message and not a conversation, so don’t confuse it with social media.
Now I’m sure the social media purist and the on-line media guys might both argue, there’s little difference. Arguably it may seem that responding to a comment that promotes your marketing interest, vs. a smart placement of content in a banner ad near the conversation are virtually the same thing. But the key difference is one is a conversation and one isn’t. When in the conversation, the community can respond to the comment which adds to the dialogue. While a smart media positioned at or near the conversation is left sitting there hoping for click throughs.
Now I’m sure we will see this line blurred. We are already seeing banner ads and sponsored content that you can respond to. We are seeing tag clouds appear in sponsored areas and commercial content that takes you to a blog or forum or chat. And with that I believe we do have social media. So I don’t think it is necessarily one camp vs another, or marketing or vs purist social media. It’s more of a how you define social media. If your efforts enable active listening and responses between multiple parties, regardless of intent , then I think that is the social media and good for the on-line community.