Digital/Online Marketing Communications Strategy

Clara Shih On Ambient Intimacy and Appvertising

By on October 5, 2010 in best practices, social media with 0 Comments

Book Cover_The Facebook Era by Clara ShihIf you want to know how tapping into social networks can help your business, then touch base with Clara Shih. After all, she wrote The Facebook Era: Tapping Online Social Networks to Market, Sell, and Innovate (2nd Edition), which is chock full of case studies and practical information for creating strategies and tactics to help you succeed in the new world of social business.

I recently enjoyed a conversation with Clara. My prior post, How Social Networks Are Changing How We Do Business, features Part 1 of our conversation, and here’s Part 2, where we get into things like ambient intimacy, appvertising and how Clara wisely decided not to go with the book title originally suggested by her publisher.

Interview with Clara Shih, author of The Facebook Era, Part 2:

Much your book talks about how businesses can use social networks to gain more information about customers or prospects, and their connections. But it can also work in the other direction. Customers may use social networks to decide whether they want to do business with you. They may want you or your business to have a referral or a seal of approval from someone they know.

Clara: Yeah, I see it going in that direction. It happens to me all the time, with people that haven’t bought my book, they’ll go to my page and they’ll see two of their friends are already a fan of the page and it helps them make up their mind… It’s really interesting.

That’s the most important thing to keep in mind for understanding social media. Because once you get this then everything else is easy. All the tactics you can pick up, and they’re changing all the time because Facebook and Twitter are always changing. But this is a fundamental paradigm shift that’s changing and creating these new business practices.

If you were to encapsulate the paradigm shift how you describe it?

Clara: It’s the idea of ambient intimacy. People sharing more about themselves than they ever have before. There are implications for business development, marketing and targeted advertising.

One of big challenges many businesses have with social media is that it’s 24/7, but most businesses don’t operate 24/7. So they run up against issues with time resource allocation and providing an adequate response. Do you have suggestions to help a business manage its social media presence?

Clara: Well the first thing to consider is that people are talking about your company 24/7 whether or not you’re on social media or not. So better to be there and to be monitoring than be in blissful ignorance.

Beyond that I think in terms of setting the expectation of timeliness. And I’ve seen this — companies will have something on their Twitter or Facebook page that says, if we don’t get back to you in 72 hours or whatever the timeframe is — put out what to expect, so everyone is on the same page.

You hear a lot about how in social media you can’t do the hard sell, you have to do the soft sell. But people know why you’re on there — your purpose is ultimately to sell, if you’re a business.

Clara: It is ultimately to sell. And that’s OK if you acknowledge it. But it’s also to show that you care about people.

Right you can vicariously create tighter connections. Still, a customer can always write an email if they want to get in touch with a company  Yet there’s something different about expressing yourself through social media.

Clara: It’s very subtle psychological things — like seeing your profile picture next to a comment you made on a businesses page… it makes you feel important. Like you have a voice. And I think people really resonate with that and people are drawn to that. Because you feel heard. Your comment is public. People can link back to your profile and possibly interact with you and like or comment on your comment.

In your book you talk about appvertising. I don’t know how many companies are aware of it, or the benefits. Would you mind giving a brief overview how companies can be smart with it?

Clara: Sure. Appvertising came about when Facebook started opening their platform to other developers to create applications on Facebook. And the idea is that with traditional advertising you get only that split second to interact with the audience. People basically see your ad and they decide to click or they don’t.

With Facebook apps, instead of giving people a onetime offer, you’re engaging them with a game or some sort of other application that they would want to come back to again and again. You can brand those games. You can sponsor applications, or you can build your own applications that really touch upon your core business and be able to deepen your relationship with a customer and engage with a customer over a longer period of time than you would with traditional advertising.

How do you do it so you’re not just creating a commercial that just happens to be a game? Even though that is essentially what appvertising is.

Clara: The key part is the branding is more subtle. One of my favorite examples is, there’s a General Mills brand called Cacadian Farms, where they promote organic foods. If you play Farmville you can buy blueberry seeds from Cascadian Farms that are all organic, non-genetically modified blueberries. That’s a fun way to engage; people are getting exposed to the Cascadian brand, and it’s good for the players because it’s good for their farm.

Still, companies must be careful about what apps they’re in and how they choose to be in that space, right?

Clara: It’s very important to find out with the apps, are they really reaching the core audience that they want to reach? There was a big controversy about a year back where Offerpal partnered with Netflix. The idea was if you were playing Texas HoldEm inside of Facebook you could throw out an offer for a 30-day trial to Netflix in exchange for chips. They got a ton of response because that’s a really popular application and people wanted the virtual chips. The problem was the end-value to Netflix was ultimately very low, because these people all cancelled within a few days. They weren’t interested in Netflix; they just wanted the chips.

As an advertiser and as a business you really have to think about are you achieving the goal that you want to achieve? How much will this interest last? Is it a short-term win or is it really a long-term gain where you can acquire these users?

OK, last question: Why call your book The Facebook Era; even the first edition is about a lot more than just Facebook.

Clara: I’ll tell you something funny; my publisher wanted me to call it the MySpace Era, because at the time MySpace was significantly bigger. I just thought there was something about Facebook that was different.  It was really the first social network that encouraged us and supported us in reflecting and extending our real world networks, versus trying to replace those real-world relationships. There’s something that’s just much more lasting and more inherently valuable about basing it on true identity and true relationships.

And we continue to call it The Facebook Era because Facebook is still the largest and fastest growing social network, not only here in the U.S., but worldwide… I believe that no matter where you are in the world you want to be connected, and often times that includes people in your county and beyond, and that’s the deal with Facebook.

Thanks, Clara

Many thanks to Clara for being so generous with her time and thoughts. She gives us plenty to ponder.

Now, if you want to get social with Clara, visit the Facebook Era’s Facebook page, or  follow her on Twitter at @clarashih

– Deni Kasrel

Related post

Recommended Reading: The Facebook Era

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About the Author

About the Author: Deni Kasrel is seasoned (slightly spicy) specialist in digital/online communications. .

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