Matthew Ferrara, Philosopher

Are You A Serial Socializer or Multi-Channel Marketer?

Smart social marketers will use multiple channels at once, not just a serial pursuit of the hottest network of the day.

Don’t get us wrong. We like Facebook (pun intended.) But we’re also watching its struggle to reconcile its original mission (“to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected”) with its post-IPO mandate to make quarterly profits for shareholders. Of course Facebook will change. We hope for the better. We’ve criticized some of their capricious changes in the past, like unannounced interface changes or barely-announced replacement of your email with your Facebook address. Little annoyances, to be sure. But after a while, they add up.

It made me think: What if one day we throw up our hands (thumbs?) and say: Enough Facebook. On to Twitter, Back to LinkedIn, Hello Pinterest!

For purely personal users, it might never come to that. But many Facebook users are also operate a business. Some use their personal page to stay connected to clients and their sphere of influence, as well as friends and family. If Facebook evolves in certain directions, it might become difficult, or simply unpalatable, to have one’s business on it. Here’s an example:

Our friend Nikki Bauchamp recently share this article by ZDNET investigating some strange uncontrolled appearances of your name that could end up damaging your reputation.

“… you might be shocked to learn that Facebook is automatically publishing posts under your name and placing them at the top of the News feed for your friends. In some cases, these posts can include controversial political content that you would never voluntarily post.”

ZDNET’s article includes snapshots of people’s names appearing as “liking” a certain page just above a fairly controversial post that page made. It might have been political, religious or even sexual. More importantly, these appearances aren’t Sponsored Ads but part of Facebook’s “suggestion engine” so you can’t turn off this use of your name. The upshot is that you might be associated with a person, place or thing you might not like, simply because you liked a certain page overall. Your name could become associated with a viewpoint you don’t agree with, nor do your contacts.

So, as the old saying goes: Never put all your eggs in one basket.

That’s why you need to have a diverse social marketing strategy. Your presence must be felt in a few different spaces, and not necessarily only the “big” ones like Twitter or LinkedIn. With the expansion of new niche networks like Pinterest,  LiveJournal, Tagged, CafeMom and Meetup, you can still play in pools of 10 million users and more. Not to mention Digg, StumbleUpon and Reddit, the social bookmark sites that let you share cool content online, are alive and well, offering opportunities to drive traffic to your wholly-owned blog and YouTube channel.

Oh, and did someone say YouTube?

Even if Facebook cleans up its act, you should always be prepared for the worst. Today they’re the shiny thing; tomorrow they could be MySpace’d by something shinier. The challenge is to be a multi-channel marketer, rather than a serial socializer. Trying to pull them all back to your company website or blog might never be possible, because the crowd follows the crowd on the social-pub-crawl of sites. So to the degree you have to follow the customers and be where they are, you’ll follow the migration to new networks over time. But rather serially stalking your sphere of influence, you need to duplicate it in multiple key sites right now.

We’ve always had more than one route to our customers – phone, mail, email, web and now social. Unlike previous tools, where a single channel was the same for everyone (one phone system, one email protocol) social media is a multi-channel medium. Your social strategy isn’t a single funnel any more; nor a circle. It looks something more like a slightly shocked porcupine, with spines jutting out into different networks, in different directions.

You’ll need to send out your feelers into new networks all the time. You’ll connect with many of the same people in multiple networks, and sometimes different people, too. Most importantly, you’ll have more than one option for maintaining your influence should one network fail, or you decide for yourself that it’s no longer appropriate to be associated with it.

So get multi-channel now; not just in case, but just because.

  • douginvirginia

    I think this is excellent advice, although it is so hard to avoid the lure of Facebook. That day of reckoning will come and a lot of those friends will jump ship quickly into the red ocean of real estate agents looking for the next/thing.

  • Doug:

    Thanks for your comment!
    I agree, Facebook is a powerful lure; and we SHOULD still be there, although we have to keep a watchful eye on how we appear (and who is using our names – which is why I like to search for myself frequently to see if we’re being talked about without even knowing!). At the same time, we need to build a few different routes to the same customers, so we have options for engaging them on various levels, and from various platform providers.
    Glad you enjoyed the article.

  •  Actually making this comment and using my “DISQUS” profile prompted me to take a look at that profile information (set up 3 years ago). Ugh! No Gravatar nor link to my blog for additional engagement… time for some housekeeping.

  • Doug:

    I recently had a similar experience on LinkedIn. My bio and picture looked like I had joined in 1812!
    — Matthew

  • Matt – Excellent post. As Mom always said, it’s more attractive to the better colleges if you’re a well rounded student.

    I love Facebook but lately I have been more engaged by Twitter and the ability to be engaged in several conversations at once about several topics. Social network engagemeent also reminds us of how great a good real life happy hour or golf outing can be to “catch up” on life and reconnnect with friends in real life.

  • Sean,

    I also have been more engaged in Twitter recently. I like the instant communications, and succinct discussions. I also like the flow of suggestions from people I follow.
    Of course, Facebook still remains good for us, but perhaps one of these days, I might find it out of bounds. Then I’ll be happy to have connections in other places!
    Matthew Ferrara & Co.
    (t) 978-291-1250
    (cell) 508-878-6223