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As a Social Web evangelist and practitioner, I recognize that there are limitations to what can currently be achieved and no level of zealotry will overcome these shortcomings.  The social landscape is dramatically different based on the scale of the interaction.  Large national brands are not people and trying to develop a relationship on a one to one basis with phony automation tends to detract from the UX.

The Brand Marketing team has one job, and that is to create a “desire” for consumers to buy their brand.  The brilliant Youngme Moon in her book “Different – Escaping the Competitive Herd” states, “…a marketer’s goal is to make us “picky” about what we consume.”  Marketers will cling to the effort of crafting an image for their brand that makes us feel picky and want to buy it.  Social interaction can and will be part of that mix, but savvy marketers will not (and should not) abandon classic marketing methods.

Small & medium businesses (SMB’s) have fewer of these barriers as they aren’t communicating to millions of consumers and have a better pathway to scale their interactions. Although, the impact could be less than stellar due to the very fact that their audience is on the small side (most will have to work at it).  Small businesses are also strapped for the resources and capital to initiate a social strategy for the long term.  It’s a necessity for a smaller company to build trust with their regular customers, and an intermittent Social Marketing program will erode that pretty fast – so long term is very important.  To me a midsized company just approaching the level of resources that can provide for a full on marketing campaign is the sweet spot for Social Marketing.

The ability to interact with consumers in a way that makes sense has still yet to be defined in the marketplace.  What is needed is a method for brands of all sizes to create recurring events of not one to one, but one to a group, where the group is large enough for the effort – but small enough to interact with.  If targeted well these interactive group events can provide the stellar social interactions that can propel a brand forward.  By introducing sharing techniques for “outside the group” interactivity, they will be able to impact a large footprint of their connections in other social networks.  This can also provide the control brand managers crave and offer a way for the brand stakeholders to humanize their brand in a smaller setting .

When this happens social sparks will begin to fly…

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