Something New Hits the Social Mix

Don’t look now, but something interesting is happening in the sprint to garner user attention through social networks. And it’s not MySpace or Facebook or any of the other well-known players in that market that appeals to web users who want to find mirror images of themselves online.

No, it’s coming from people whose names aren’t quite as new and “techie” sounding … folks like eBay and Yahoo, for instance. People with nice, familiar, “safe” sounding names. The people we’ve all been interacting with for some time now.

Now they’re adding networking, allowing their users to share their interests with others … in other words, to socialize. This is quite different from the early days of message boards. It’s the MySpace model, if you will, and it’s a brilliant idea to capture audiences of people who will be able to view their online destinations as their social networks.

I say “brilliant” because this seems an almost obvious step that could have been lost in a “can’t see the forest through the trees” oversight, albeit one that took much longer to develop than one might have thought. It’s the brave new world that looks beyond just attracting the millions of web users out there, but keeping them around to read ads and spend money. All together, that’s what marketing is all about.

But before just handing the “marketing genius of the year” award to any of our favorite oldie but goody web destinations, they’re going to need to demonstrate that they not only understand the importance of social networking, but how to make their messages relevant to the audience they hope to draw … and keep. We all know the web is a quicksilver world where users appear and disappear in a flash if nothing interests them — often never to return.

The challenge now lies in the testing and re-testing of messages and techniques that will allow eBay and others to succeed in becoming true social experiences. This one is worth watching. Stay tuned!

Grant Johnson

Johnson Direct LLC