Is Social Marketing About Truth Or Popularity?

Wikiality, the phrase coined by Stephen Colbert to define the “truth by consensus” that emerges as Wikipedia becomes the default reference for everything, can have significant impact on how brands are represented online in vehicles written by the collective. Anyone from commercial concerns to politicians to activist groups has incentive to alter how they or their competitors/detractors are perceived. We’d like to believe that gentlemanly behavior will be the order of the day, but we are obviously too smart for that. And Microsoft’s ham-handed efforts are just another reminder.

Wiki isn’t for everyone. The problem with community-defined reality, or truth by consensus, is that the majority it too often wrong. Just because we all agree the world is flat doesn’t make it so. Eventually, the facts will win out. So does that make social media bad?

To be sure, social media has it’s place. But where is that exactly?

The problem is benefits. If you believe that consensus is your friend then by all means chase the consensus. I happen to believe that, as the Web grows, it will be more and more difficult to gain consensus. Perhaps that is not quite the proper goal.

The idea of marketing to those who want to be marketed to is not necessarily to win favor with everyone, or even the majority, of our audience. Rather, it more a matter of gaining enough favor with enough members of our audience that we can profit from it. But how much is enough to gain profitability? That will largely depend on your market, your product and your industry.

When it comes to social marketing, truth is not as important as popularity. If you win enough friends, even in low places, you could be a viral phenomenon. The first step will always be, as in any marketing, getting to know your market. Who are they, what do they want and where do they hang out? When you know these answers, then you’re ready to begin marketing, then you’re ready to go social.

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