Are Digital Marketing + Social Design Compatible?

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by: David Armano

I’m attending a panel next week at the Ad Age digital marketing conference.  The topic?  Making social media work:

Making Social Media & Marketing Work

Social media and marketing is no longer an ’emerging media’ buzzword, but a discipline that nearly every marketer has embraced.  What tactics are smart marketers eyeing? Where does the discipline lie within an agency? What kinds of new social media models will emerge in 2008?

Moderator: Jim Nail, Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer,  TNS Media Intelligence/Cymfony 

Confirmed Panelists:

David Armano, VP, Creative, Critical Mass
Michael Barrett, EVP, Chief Revenue Officer, Fox Interactive Media
Colleen Decourcy, Chief Digital Officer, TBWA Worldwide
Eric Plaskonos, Director of Brand Communications, Philips Electronics North America
Troy Young, CMO, VideoEgg

If you look at my visual above, it will tell you something about what my POV will be on the panel.  Like many of you, I’m a "consumer"—I buy stuff.  I’m also an active participant in social networks incorporating many of the social utilities like Facebook, Twitter and blogging in my daily routine.  I’m part of multiple communities.  I produce content.  I’m a "user" (sorry folks, it’s not a dirty word)—I use Web applications and software regularly.  I don’t even think about it.  It’s like breathing.  And I’m a customer too. But above all, I’m a person—a human being.

Through all of the rapid shifts we are witnessing I often self-analyze my own digital behavior.  I wonder why it’s the geeks and not the marketers who are designing the social experiences like You Tube, Flickr, My Space, Facebook etc.  I like to think about what Josh Porter describes as "social design":

"Social design is design that focuses on the social lives of users. It deals with the activities, behaviors, and motivations of people who work and play together through software interfaces. It is built on the observation that many of the decisions we make are greatly affected by those we surround ourselves with in our social lives: our family, friends, and colleagues."

So the geeks build the platforms and networks.  The users use them.  The users become participants.  Participants form the networks and communities and participation in communities sucks up our time and attention.

Then where does that leave marketing?  Maybe next week, we’ll get a little closer to that answer.  But my guess is we’ll probably end up with more questions.  If you’re going to the event, please look me up.

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