Online Networking: Don't Advertize, Socialize

Posted on May 22, 2009 by Doug Anderson

The online world has quickly become everybody's favorite pastime. Online social media and activity is at an all-time high and growing rapidly.

Meanwhile, traditional media (TV, newspapers, radio) are struggling for relevancy as the audience and advertising that supports it shifts away.

Newspaper circulation has posted its 16th straight year of steady decline, and now equals the levels of the late 1970s. TV has held steady only thanks to the growth of online television viewers.

Major shifts in consumer behavior require a major shift in your marketing strategy. Online marketing spending has been growing by upwards of 20-30% a year. In 2009, online marketing spend is actually forecasted to flatten or decline. Why?

Simply put, traditional advertising is destined to fail online...and that is now apparent. The facts are that customers do not trust advertising and do not want to view advertising, regardless of medium. Furthermore, online customers are trained to ignore advertising.

Average click-through rate of ad units on large scale internet sites (e.g. Yahoo!, MSN) is now less than 0.2%.

To succeed online, you need to integrate into your online community. Broadband has brought an explosion in "rich media" online experiences such as video and new forms of popular interactive communications way beyond email...with chatting, texting, social networking, and blogging.  

Social alone is a category that didn't exist three years ago but already has grown to 16% of all online activity.

Don't get fooled by the new lingo. Online social networking is really just a fancy new term for what used to be considered building "word-of-mouth" or "referrals." Social marketing goes hand-in-hand with social networking and is an additional channel for you to build a base of relevant relationships that will send you business, directly or indirectly.

Your goal should be to make your online network as effective or more than the same amount of time spent on your offline networking events or going to happy hours. If you invest in building online relationships, they will pay back more than any advertising.

Related Articles:
Online Marketing: Are You Driving Clicks or Customers?
Follow These Steps to Stay Connected With Clients Shows Its Fresh Face

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