I have been following recent blog posts by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff (Forrester Research) on the role of social networking applications in promoting businesses. I am not attempting to paraphrase the blogs here; I would recommend that you peruse through them yourself. They make an insightful and interesting read.
All these posts talk about the increasing importance and effectiveness of social networking applications in promoting a business. The persuasive nature of social networks (friends telling friends about a product/business) is far more effective when compared to expensive advertisements that merely attempt to spread awareness. These bloggers and others also argue that social applications are much cheaper as compared to awareness ads.
With all the buzz around Facebook and all the goodness talk on these blog posts and other places, I have been curiously looking for some prescriptions (without innovating my own) that (i) I can use to get the word out on SimplifyThis, and (ii) I can suggest to the users of SimplifyThis on how to make Facebook and MySpace work for them. I have seen many success stories being touted in various social print media. I also came across agencies that will put a structured program to promote a business on Facebook. Then I came across a blog post which in itself was not so tantalizing, but a comment on this post by Elyse Holladay was an eye opener in some sense. I have always been somewhat doubtful about the sustained effectiveness of programs that cram marketing through channels that are not meant for it.
Well, having said that, products and businesses are a part of our lives and there is always a reason to talk good or bad about them in our social network. The problem happens when such talk loses authenticity or firsthand experience. I think there is a clear need for a tool that promotes such authentic talk. A Facebook application that is very popular among my friends is “Books I Read” where people talk about and review books. The reviews sound authentic, and I do not see them being pushed by book publishers. We are in the process of building an application ourselves and will talk more about it as we get closer to releasing it.