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the brand guru

Social networking is nothing new Brand Bucket MD, Barnaby Wynter, says stop messing about with your keyboards! f you have been caught in the “What is our social networking strategy?� debate then you need to get out more. The idea of a social network has been theorised for over a century and has been applied to all manner of social systems and relationship groups including tribes, families, genders and ethnicity. The idea of social networking has been at work in thousands of social systems including religion, culture, music, sport and, in business terms, as


Barnaby Wynter

part of how brands are created and maintained. The internet has allowed marketers to jump on a new bandwagon, inspired by the realisation that it is a new way of selling using one of the oldest and most powerful marketing tools available to all businesses, namely word of mouth. However, in social networking online, the mouth has been substituted by the finger. Increasingly we let our fingers do the talking, keying in information into profiling databases, which will make the connections with others who have done the same and have entered similar profiles.

Suddenly, thousands of keyboards are linked to each other. It's why marketers, who are trained in the increasingly outdated 'broadcast thinking', are so excited by social networking online. But there is a real danger, a limiting factor. We might know a username or IP address, but we have no definitive information qualifying the user of that keyboard. Potentially what is being typed is open to misappropriation, misinterpretation and, at worst, abuse. Its immediacy is similar to that of word of mouth, but there are no non-verbal checks or controls thereby missing out up to 80 per cent of meaning.

17 January 2010 - EXHIBITING

the brand guru

This places the participants in any so-called 'conversation' in a precarious position because, as more and more people become involved, the thread might be quite misleading and may even be manipulated leading to much doubt as well as good information. Brand owners, who are handing their business promise over to blogs (a 'web log' with regular commentary from the blog originator) and allowing readers to leave comments, are leaving their promise open to opinion that, while often positive, can also be misinformed and even take the form of rejection in a very public and damaging way. My Twitter account is regularly updated, but I am unsure of the followers identity as they are of mine. My Facebook profile shows up strangers daily and I only link to those that I have spoken directly with. My LinkedIn account works well for business, but again only with those with whom I have spoken. Many other networks with which I have registered have failed to offer value and have been consigned to the junk e-mail area. So what's the answer? Abandon ship or bless all those who sail in her? Well, one thing I do know, having been actively

involved in the internet arena since 1987, is that no-one can possibly predict what is going to happen next. And make no mistake, somewhere, somehow, someone is crossing another chasm and the way we communicate will shift again. The best thing to do is to stick with what we know works. We all know that word of mouth works and this can only be good for the exhibiting industry; events where people can talk with other people. So the way to use social networking is to get your net working and scooping up only

product or service. This is your 'data' to which you will be matched. The more focused this ends up, the better the quality of match ups. Think of it as niche marketing. Every business should aim to be regarded as niche, which can be defined as where a business enjoys a monopoly in the consumer’s mind. A business can pursue a wide but shallow niche, or be classed in a narrow but deep niche. In refining your value proposition, you will only connect to those who match your values.

“We might know a username or IP address, but we have no definitive information qualifying the user of that keyboard� qualified people whom you can invite to a face-to-face conversation. To do this you first have to get your business story in order. Your value proposition, what people will pay you for your

Now, you can use social networking tools to appeal to everyone who is attracted to your value proposition and get them to speak to you directly. You can then overcome their objections and create a sale. Whether you get them to visit your website, come into in your shop, meet you at an event or talk to you on the phone, the better you have 'filtered in' the prospects and customers by getting them to match your value proposition, the more likely you are to convert them to becoming a customer. And, in my book, that is the marketing speak that will get your business really noticed; marketing that works, marketing that leads to a sale.

Social networking is all very well, but do you really know who you are speaking to?

19 January 2010 - EXHIBITING

Articles by Barnaby  

A series of articles that appeared in Exhibiting Magazine