Tapping into 'unpaid media'

Summary:Larry Weber, CEO of the W2 Group and formerly of the marketing and PR firm the Weber Group, gave a keynote at the Syndicate conference on the use of unpaid media to reach consumers.

weber.jpgLarry Weber, CEO of the W2 Group and formerly of the marketing and PR firm the Weber Group, gave a keynote at the Syndicate conference on the use of unpaid media to reach consumers. 

Unpaid media--which seems to mean content created by social communities (call it social media) associated with a brand or product, rather than traditional marketing materials and shying away from direct interaction with customers in the lifecycle--can assist product development and turn into marketing intelligence via harvesting user opinions, tracking customer conversations, identifying trends, analyzing needs, and engaging in dialog with customers, Weber said. Marketers become 'constituency managers' creating community-based programs, tapping the power of citizen journalism qne building loyalty programs and content for micro-communities. Transparency is also critical, Weber said. "You have to be open and take your lumps if you are going to build constituency equity."

"Branding is a dialog with the community," Weber intoned. Strong dialogs result in strong brands, and weak dialogs result in losers. "The job of every CEO is to be an aggregator of communities," he added, asserting that social networks are one of the most ignored platforms for marketing. Social networks are built around topics, such as breast cancer, sports teams or products, and people are often active in several communities. Newspapers, Weber said, should be cultivating social platforms that repurpose content.

In the new era of marketing, new forms of media and distribution are emerging:

Press release--RSS feed
Marketing collateral--Blog
Interviews--Podcast 
Media tour--Webcast
Event--Social network
Customer reference--Community advocate
Data sheet--E-newletter

Weber also described the chief marketing officers dashboard of the future, with data and analytics; a customer relationship engine; digital communications (unpaid media); content campaigns and delivery; and campaign tracking.

He also noted that the estimated $90 billion spent on marketing and communications in the U.S. (about $60 billion going into TV) won't be going into the same marketing buckets as in past decades.

We've been seeing the shift to online media and the impact of social networks, blogs, RSS and other technologies, driven by the  maturing Internet and broadband, over the last several years. Weber isn't saying much new to those steeped in the Web, but as a seasoned marketer who has seen it all, he sends a clear message to the unconverted. 

Topics: Social Enterprise

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