This is the response I gave to a reporter’s query this summer about whether or not online social networking was more effective than real-world social networking:
I donâ€™t know that social networking is either more or less effective than in-person marketing so as much as it is different. I would say that it is probably easier or more comfortable networking using online tools like Facebook and Twitter than it is in person for a lot of people. Online, you donâ€™t really have those awkward social moments; those times when youâ€™re reaching for something to say.
The online conversations simply reveal what a person is interested in and itâ€™s easy to jump in when you can add something of value to the discussion. You donâ€™t have to be witty on demand; you can answer a question after youâ€™ve given it some thought. Social networking is a great way to create relationships you probably would never otherwise have created because without Twitter or Facebook, youâ€™d probably never have met one another due to geography or any other factor.
These tool are also a good way of â€œwarming upâ€ a relationship before you actually meet the person in the flesh.
As business tools, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and the rest are fantastic venues in which to establish a direct communication channel with your customers. These channels can then be used to offer promotions, product information, solicit feedback and conduct customer service. The friends you make on these networks can expose your brand to their networks and acts as an implicit endorsement. If your customers are happy with you, they will often tell their networks how much they love you.
Itâ€™s like the old Fabrege shampoo commercial: So I told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so onâ€¦. Substitute 1000 for two friends, and you get the idea.