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A recent survey by ExactTarget indicated that 70% of Facebook users don’t want marketing to be incorporated in social media applications – even when they opt to become fans of a particular business.

Of course. Given the choice, few people would claim they want to be marketed to, ever – regardless of the medium. It’s a bit like asking if they want a headache or a pebble in their shoe.

Yet, Facebook is obviously filled with people cheerfully engaged in all sorts of marketing activities – downloading coupons, answering polls, signing petitions, benefiting from discounts, playing games, earning badges. Companies are providing many of these activities, and of course they are marketing themselves.

It’s a matter of how a word is perceived. “Marketing” as the hard sell, the interruption, the phony friendliness, the lackluster product with a glossy polish is clearly not what Facebook is for. This is how many people perceive marketing today.

“Marketing” as an envolving form of communication – a free resource, a clever idea, an insightful observation, and the occasional promotion, gimmick, or self congratulation – is clearly at home at Facebook.

I’m curious to see what comes next. Facebook will eventually be replaced, almost certainly because the commercial aspects of it will overwhelm the other content. Will our perception of the word  “marketing’ shift as well? I wonder if it will always have a negative ring to most people, and if it will be something whose obviousness makes it seem a thing of the past. Most importantly, I wonder what will replace it.

I think it’s an exciting trend to watch and participate in, and with Facebook’s 300 million users, the effects are going to be far reaching indeed.

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