As marketers, don’t look at the Internet just as a means to deliver your brand message. Keep in mind that the Internet does a lot more than just sending out a message. It connects people with information, with each other, and with action. The Internet adds networks of links over societies.
Form relationships with your customers and your target audience in which these connections create value. The Internet is a web of networks inside of networks. Your marketing efforts, too, can form this strong network with every link and every connection.
In 2008, when many business and banks went down with the recession, Google announced profits rising 26%. Their strategy and model that got them there was by having an open network. Instead of controlling your content, marketing to bring in readers, and show them ads until your visitors leave, let the content be driven by your visitors and it will be linked to your main site.
It is this same openness, transparency, trust, and collaboration that has bred so many open sourced projects such as Linux and Mozilla Firefox.
Note that each possible link that you make is a distributed conversation which is happening at different places and in different times. Harness the interactive and collaborative prowess of the Internet.
In your marketing efforts, you may have experienced “banner blindness,” which is the ineffectiveness of placing banner ads at the top and throughout websites. Many visitors have developed this blindness towards banner ads because they are so used to seeing them.
Marketing not only has to be more interactive, but more importantly, it has to be social and collaborative. Many marketers are going that route and hitting up the popular social media websites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. But it isn’t enough just to buy ad space on those sites. Involving the customer or your target audience in making decisions, creating networks, and thus creating links between the company and customer.
For example, Virgin America Airlines has done this recently in creating a Virgin America Airlines fan page on Facebook and also Twittering about it. As a young domestic airline company, they ask the question to their target audience: “Where should we open up the next flying destination for Virgin America? Help us decide!”
This creates links and bonds relationships with the company, and also brands the airline as hip, cool, and trendy since they are using the same social media tools as the cool kids are using. The company is not simply putting a static website as their homepage and driving paid traffic to their site. Instead, Virgin America is using these Web 2.0 platforms to launch their marketing efforts and involve their customers.
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