Social media takes to the streets

Social media and marketing will never naturally be the best of bed fellows but sometimes the two are a match made in heaven. James Cherkoff’s post on Collaborative Marketing should be called “How not to do it”. The homepage is full of examples of how marketing departments get it so wrong when they venture into social media.

His post entitled, "When You Say Community", gives good examples of how companies can mistake social networking sites as a guaranteed way to marketing success.

It’s a potent topic; the same thing came up time again, if I remember rightly, at Social Media Influence a fortnight ago “If you build it will they come?”. Marketing execs are still hesitant to get involved in something they see as beyond their control but there are a few really recent examples where companies are getting it right and associating their brand with a positive, open ethos.

The post is well thought out - texty but not overly so. It balances infromation and engagement. In the social media contest it’s personal media sites that are coming out on top such as Facebook, Bebo and Myspace. With their higher member numbers, greater buzz and chat, personal sites are winning the game. Cherkoff’ has got solid examples and analysis detailing why some networking sites flounder and some succeed. Apparently it’s relatively straight forward.

He believes it’s a personal site set up by someone with a passion for their subject that transfers better. If you think about it, how could a brand have the same qualities that an individual has? It would seem that coroporate can’t compete with the power of the crowd.

Cherkoff cites Nike and Walmart as warnings against diving into social media uninitiated. Sites free from a brand identity with a genuine enthusiasm for their subject often work better as networking portals; for example.

He describes Nike’s first experimentation into networking as:

“more like arriving late to a Nike strategy meeting"

On the other hand Nike’s Running Club, their latest brand extention, has over 200,000 members and as I type this the company is organizing their Human Race on the radio.

“One Million Runners, One Day” is the latest tag line from the company that’s hosting the Human Race this August.

Nike are no longer just selling you some trainers or a gym vest but a whole community of other runners to support you while you’re keeping fit. Nike’s Women 's Run meets every Monday at Nike town on Oxford Street (incase you fancy going along) – and it’s a perfect example of the positive moves the company is taking.

What’s more, it couldn’t be further from that “strategy meeting” feel of Nike’s first social platform.