Monday, May 4, 2009

Your Social Networking Strategy: A portal or a porta-potty?

Someone you follow on Twitter just posted this important message -  "I'm going to the gym, it's going to feel great!"  On Facebook, Friend 214 placed an important quote from President 16 on your wall. 

What did you ever do without social networks?

With millions of users on networks such as Facebook and Twitter - nearly 18 million users on Twitter alone (representing over 10% of internet users per eMarketer, April 2009), social networking has turned into an explosive personal and professional marketing tool.  When used properly, these networks have an amazing impact on search engine optimization, brand awareness, and potential sales generation.  From a personal standpoint, it is a great way to network with friends and family - and with the fastest growth segment on Facebook becoming Baby Boomers, it's also replacing greeting cards and party invitations! 

The key issue is this:  Is your social network a portal:  providing valuable new ideas and links to your user base, or is it a  porta-potty: flushing valuable time and space down the drain.  

As a portal strategy, your social networking sites provide newsworthy and timely links to information that you're both interested in and providing to your "followers and friends."  I'm finding my own Twitter links (@Robrosenberg) chock full of customized headlines and tips that are targeted right toward me.  After all, these are fellow tweeters who I have opted in to follow.

Opposite the portal strategy is the porta-potty strategy; the need to tell the world how you're feeling or what you're watching.  There's a place for this, but frankly, most people are washing their hands of this approach.  Kind of like the chat rooms of old when AOL first came out - at first it was fun and different, then it gets old and boring.  

If you're using social networking for personal reasons, have at it.  Tell the world how you're feeling, what you're wearing, and what color best matches your personality.  Your Friends will either opt in or opt out, and that's what the space is for.

For business purposes, the use of social networking is a portal that can open many new doors. If you are using it as a porta-potty, don't let the door hit you on the way in.


Mark - Brand Innovator said...

Provocative question, Rob.

Our company blog is increasing hits every month. Our teams are using YouTube for a creative outlet and client outreach. And we've gotten at least one account directly from LinkedIn. Twitter, on the other hand, too soon to tell. (But you will know what I had for breakfast.)

For some other social media cases, check out

Keep up the dialogue.

Susan Strategic said...

Isn't that the truth! Even much of the business stuff could be flushed without any loss. I wonder if these companies realize or even think about how the perceptions of their brand are being affected.

Rob Rosenberg, President, Springboard Brand & Creative Strategy said...

Great comments here - thanks! Brand Innovator is showing exactly how to use a site as a portal and Susan is spot on (always wanted to use that) with her note about brand perception.

So Mark, what did you have for breakfast?

Mark - Brand Innovator said...

My breakfast rundown (in an overt style of social media marketing):

Monday: oatmeal - GoHumansGo!

Tuesday: hotel buffet at Crowne Plaza

Wednesday: latte on the run

Today: see my Twitter breakfast entry when you follow

Looking forward to sharing a breakfast with you soon, Rob.

David Leibowitz said...

Very catchy title to this post!

Blogging is very important to my work as a consumer bankruptcy attorney. My clients tell me their concerns and I blog about those concerns the same evening. One client's concerns will reflect those of many potential clients. And by writing on matters of interest to actual clients, I automatically help my site in SEO.

Twitter is another thing - for me, it is more about connecting to peers, vendors, people of interest in my field. For me, Twitter is more of a place to speak sparingly and to listen carefully and selectively. My two cents for what it's worth.