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05.10.2008Author: Katy Thorbahn Posted In: Big Ideas

Think Social Influence Marketing

Is there any doubt that social media exploded in 2007? The astounding growth of Facebook alone forced everyone – not just marketers, but corporations, investors, academia, and media – to pay attention to social media as a serious business and cultural phenomenon.

But the bigger question is how is social media changing the way we do business in 2008?

A major shift is occurring - the rise of social media is creating a new form of marketing altogether, Social Influence Marketing. Social Influence Marketing is about employing social media as part of the entire lifecycle of a marketing campaign, even beyond the campaign.

Here are 10 major social media developments that you need to know about now:

1. Social Influence Marketing becomes the third dimension of marketing.

Brand marketing and direct response used to be all that mattered. Not anymore. Social Influence Marketing requires new strategies, rules and tactics along with a lot of experimentation. Over the long term, it is going to have a stronger affect on purchasing behavior than direct response and brand marketing.

2. Advertising on your consumer’s terms.

Social Influence Marketing is also about the active advertiser attempting to engage with consumers on their terms – where they want to and in a language and format of their choosing. The most immediate impact? Slick, big idea advertising will have less influence than marketing strategies that allow companies to participate in the online conversations.

3. Forget about the marketing funnel.

Social media in all its forms is having a complex influence on the traditional marketing funnel and making it look more like a Kandinsky painting than a linear process. This transformation will occur as social influence marketing impacts purchasing behavior and the traditional marketing funnel.

4. Social networks matter more than websites.

Consumers are continuing to spend most of their time on social networks. Any company developing a new website, product or marketing campaign needs to think about how it integrates with key social networks. This can’t be an after thought anymore. Social Influence Marketing is about reaching these audiences on these networks.

5. Engagement metrics come to the forefront.

Much of the web’s success as a marketing platform is driven by its ability to capture strong metrics. New measurement models and corresponding tools will be needed to track whether Social Influence Marketing is having a stronger effect on the purchasing cycle than brand marketing or direct response.

6. The Internet blends in with everything else.

Consumers don’t see the Internet as something distinctly different from their offline worlds anymore and expect seamless combinations. Every key consumer activity has online and offline components that contribute to the total experience. Finally, the online world is getting more social, and as a result, more like the offline worlds.

7. Media companies continue to be at the forefront.

Media companies are going to be at the forefront when it comes to taking advantage of Social Influence Marketing trends. Whether it is in how they approach social media and deliver video in new formats via the web, or how they seed media within the social networks, they’re going to be in the lead again. The reason is simple – they are the ones who have the most permission to play in this space.

8. Companies realize that communities matter again.

Social networks are just another incarnation of online communities like America Online, Tripod and Geocities. Companies are going to spend money trying to understand adoption, user behavior, trust, and information flows in these communities. And as companies attempt to influence behavior on these networks, they are going to think hard about their own tone and how they should be participating.

9. Social Influence Marketing takes many different forms.

Companies and individuals will need to think hard about what social influence marketing means for them and for their networks, organizations and industries. For example, the travel sector is only beginning to harness the power of Social Influence Marketing. The way they leverage it should be very different from the way the financial sector does so.

10. And it broadens influence.

Social Influence Marketing is not just about user-generated content or marketing on social networks. It is going to affect how organizations innovate, develop ideas, recruit, measure performance and interact with all their constituents – customers, employees, partners and shareholders. Why? Because only by changing their organizations from the inside out, will companies be authentic when talking to the outside world.

So that’s it— ten Social Influence Marketing trends to watch. Which of these will turn out to be true, and which will not, only time can tell. But one thing is certain: Social Influence Marketing is going to prove its relevance.

Katy Thorbahn is Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Philadelphia office of Avenue A | Razorfish, one of the largest interactive services firms in the world. She may be reached at:

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