@ Content 2.0: The Uncomfortable Issue Of Marketing In A Social Media Space

This session at the Content 2.0 conference in London flitted about all over the place asking some interesting questions but not really answering them. There’s a huge amount to explore around MySpace but Jamie Kantrowitz, senior VP for marketing, Europe, could only offer a marketing perspective that didn’t really explore the more interesting social elements of, erm, social media. She did say that consumers in the social media space are very savvy and know they are being marketed at, so want something more meaningful in a relationship with advertisers – they want to be marketed ‘with’, not ‘at’. She also said it’s a misconception that MySpace is a teenage phenomenon when its core demographic runs from 16 to 34.
Yes, MySpace now has more than 80 million registered users and yes, it has “recognized it is stepping into new territory” by bringing advertisers into a complex social networking space. But I was also thinking about the people I know that have set up profiles for their pets and for imaginary people. And more than that, I wonder how much the new and slightly uncomfortable presence of commercially motivated profiles is going to turn off users. Rival site Bebo is bigger in the UK, as we know, but how much will commercial infiltration undermine the genuine social engagement here? The teenagers in the last panel touched on this…
Collaborate Marketing director James Cherkoff said the growth of the internet strikes fear and confusion into the heart of marketeers – something like three trillion web pages and 25,000 more every hour makes for a landscape that is almost untrackable. And as far as user-generated content is concerned, marketeers find it hard to understand how that is relevant – unless the users mention the relevant rand directory.
Hugh ‘Gaping Void’ MacLeod told us about his blog work with Thomas Mahon the Saville Row tailor… the business tripled in two months, etc etc. But there was a wry smile and I almost detected a tear in his eye as he said that blogging is really about love: “What drives the blogoshere is not ambition and profit – it’s because people do it for love and goodwill. They love and bond with the people they connect to and that’s important. If you have no love, if you’re just there to take and not give – you’ll be ignored.” He said Microsoft blogger Robert Scoble doesn’t sell any more computers or raise the stock price directly, but does inspire conversations about Microsoft that engage people.

This article originally appeared in MediaGuardian.