Social Web in Digital Marketing

Amitabh Biswas

The social web is fast becoming the game changer in digital marketing. Social Web-marketing, in simple words, means marketing via digital media leveraging the social network. Quite emphatically, the social web is the new-age digital habitat of unpaid media created by the online creatures. In sheer simple words, by social web we mean all online social network platforms, where people with common passion can assemble together to share thoughts, opinions and comments. And, quite intriguingly,the social web is becoming the fertile ground for digital marketing. By the way, a question arises - what encompasses the magic entity ‘social web’ ? The social web entities can be categorized in myriad flavors like search engine aggregators (like Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask), blogs,podcasts, social networks, videos, online forums/groups and e-communities.
It is necessary to put straight that the e-business and internet marketing basics have not radically changed, but the directions and horizons have. The known skills required for marketing 'digital' primarily consist of Niche Market Research, Keyword research, Copy Writing ,Content Management, Search Engine Optimization( keyword density, meta-tagging, sitemap generation, on-page and off-page optimization techniques ,advanced linking mechanics, Alexa ranking analysis etc), Traffic Generation Report & Analytics ( like Google Analytics), Affiliate/Associates Marketing, Digital Advertisement( i.e. the PPC, CPC,CPA , Google Adwords, Pay per Lead models), Email Marketing and so on . Now, while these skills remain important and relevant, they deserve to be directed more and more towards the gushing fountain of the social web. The social media, often used interchangeably with social web, is - as the digital pundits describe – a repository of mass wisdom or ‘wisdom of crowds’.
Just look at the influx of blogs, wikis, podcasts, social networking sites, video presentations dominating the web. Earlier, in nineties common people were challenged by the technology and constrained by the knowledge barriers for any web-expression . In those days, the online activity of any ordinary consumer was, by and large, limited to passive browsing or minimal shopping. For any serious web-expression one needed to find some users forum, or to host a website - an option not so cheap and easy at that time - just to publish anything on web. Now, the newfangled social web revolution has made available numerous blogging platforms like Blogger, Wordpress, Squidoo, Hubpage and others. Most corporate players are fast targeting at the blogsphere success. Now,we see multiple class/categories of business blogs in web - e.g., company blogs( e.g., HP, IBM,Pricewaterhouse Coopers), topical blogs(i.g.,TreeHugger, Google's Zeitgeist, Lycos 50), promotional blogs, advocacy blogs(i.e.,, Raceware, Culture Kitchen), group blog, executive and even CEO blogs. The opinions, comments and reviews can be freely published by the bloggers with least effort, as if the social web has unleashed the flood gates for free speech over the web. The blogs, podcasts and videos go largely uncut, unrestricted and direct, unless they deviate into spamming and indulge in socially unacceptable contents.In plain words, for every corporate giant there are hundred reasons to sponsor blogging as a means of internet marketing, as blogs can be quite effectively incorporated into successful social web campaigns.

After 2005, the social web experienced a quiet, but robust and extraordinary, revolution with social networking engines charting new trends.To name some social web pacesetters, they are Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, LikedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Digg. They did spread a simple mantra- click, connect, converse and recruit new coummunity members. While Facebook, Digg and YouTube are the major players in the social web scene, there are others who are specializing on segmented or niche communities.Some niche players are Gather, Jigsaw, StumbleUpon, Zillow, bYelp, Reddit and Photobucket. Next, there are a few services that enable one maintain bookmark collections.They are known as social bookmarking sites; some examples are, furl, diigo and clipclip.

The social web has turned the primitive homosapien greagariousness into a burgeoning socio-digital reality, powered with the free-flowing fluid of permissiveness and freedom of speech. What could be the more efficient social grapevines or the effervescent whirlpools for launching the digital campaigns? It is true, the transactional model of browse-click-buy does not fit here.It calls for a new strategy.The corporate intellectuals ( while marketing 'digital' way)should behave in a social manner- rather than a transactional way - to create brands in the context of the emerging social web,so that conversation can be gradually dragged close to commerce.So, the new mantra of marketing digital is to push 'social conversation' to profiteering commerce.

The magic stories are many.In 2007, one can recall how Coka-cola banked on Myspace in their relaunching campaign of cherry coke brand.Coming to Twitter,the marketing guru Joseph Jaffe calls it a 'real-time word-of-mouth' communicator.The short-text communication - "what's happening?"- has such a great popularity and viral impact that, even way back in 2007 Twitter was used by 6 percent of the US online adults. One interesting latest news on social web marketing and how it is attracting advertisement dollars: for the first time in 23 years, Pepsi will not have any ads in the Super Bowl. Instead, the company will be spending $20 million on a social media campaign it’s calling The Pepsi Refresh Project.

An effective digital marketing campaign embracing social web should not only have its distinctive voice, interactive appeal, cross-cultural adaptability, entertainment value, but also at the same time it has to be tech-smart, taggable, syndicatable, mobile, time-efficient, commentable, reaction-responsive, easily navigable and - finally last but not the least - search-engine efficient. It is truely a challenging task, because today's digital campaign projects call for quite some advanced and tough metrics.Here is a dirty list -which is however not exhaustive - of the salient factors to consider.

  • Keyword Research and Serach Engine Optimization Techniques

  • Meta-tagging, Anchor texting.

  • RSS feed subscription.

  • Inbound Link Building, link laundering with article publishing.

  • Blogging, Lensing( squidoo), Hubpaging, Tweeting.

  • Social Network Campaigning - Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn etc.

  • Video Campaigning,Polling and Contest Entries.

  • Alexa ranking, SE performance analysis with Web Analyzer(Omniture, Web Trends,Google Analytics).

  • Comments Moderation/ Customer Reaction Analysis.
Powered by the new and dynamic force of social media marketing, the world of digital business is evolving faster than we have imagined before. Marketers and corporate strategists must continue innovating and experimenting, because the only crime in social web marketing now is inaction.