Why We Should Embrace Web 2.0 & Social Media Since we launched Eyeka two years ago, the question I hear most often from agencies and marketers, and at various marketing and digital conferences, is this: is Web 2.0 and social media a fad or is it here to stay? I think a quote from Times magazine, October 13, 2007 sums it up quite adequately— “Social-networking sites are officially more popular than porn sites.”


Just to put things into perceptive, today there are almost four million articles in Wikipedia; more than 100 million videos on YouTube (with about 65,000 new videos uploaded everyday); and, more than 1.5 million residents in Second Life! In-Stat’s recent research, ‘User-Generated Video (UGV), a Global Stage for You’, predicted worldwide UGV revenue to eclipse the US$1.19 billion mark by 2012 and forecasted 160 billion UGV served videos for 2012.

What we also need to remember is tomorrow’s consumers are today’s ‘digital natives’. There are projections stating that by 2010, Millennials and Gen Y-ers will outnumber Baby Boomers; and, they already wield US$350 billion per year in direct spending power! A study from Price Waterhouse Coopers found that Indian Internet Geners can contribute up to 70 per cent of the family income, and their opinions often are more influential in family purchasing decisions than those of their counterparts in the West. Chinese and Indian Internet Geners are leading the wave of new consumer choice and freedom; they are hungry for information on new products and services, and they are up to four times more likely to pay attention to the Internet as a medium. The various activities on the web that integrate technology, social interaction and the contents generation—text, visuals, videos and audio—are exploding, and we are hanging on the verge of a media revolution. Last February, Heinz launched the Top This contest (topthistv.com), inviting consumers to make a commercial about ketchup. The contest was so successful that the company launched a second contest the following March. User-generated ads for Doritos were the second and third most watched spots during the Super Bowl, according to the February 2008 issue of Brandweek.

Change is always difficult to grapple with but this is not just a fad that will be going away. We are facing a fundamental shift in the way we communicate and this is a watershed moment. Since it is here to stay, marketers—the guardians and stewards of brands—essentially have to understand and embrace this radical inversion of the communication model in new media, when we are so used to the traditional mediums. The traditional communication model is a monologue: a top-down, one-way street where the marketing messages are sent to the target audience. With the shift, communication has become bottom-up, and this requires marketing to be conversational, participative and inclusive.

We have to realize that messages are not conversations. More importantly, what we need to recognize is that the thing we ought to embrace today is not Web 2.0 technology itself but really, the act of listening. Really listening to your consumers or your target audiences; and to feel the pulse of their sentiments and their opinions. It is about creating a dialogue and allowing your consumers to actively engage with your brand. The goal is not to control the conversation but to encourage and guide the multiplication of chat about your brand. It is about creating opportunities for people to feel ownership of your brand and the whole point is to give them something to talk about. This means enabling dialogues and inspiring people to share the information you want with their friends, by creating a desire to want to influence their friends about your brand! Essentially what Web 2.0 has enabled is “word of mouth” marketing on a scale and speed never before known. The Internet, blogs, social media etc. just made it so much faster and more convenient to spread the word to like-minded friends.
It is the old truism that people trust the recommendations of other consumers and they care more about what their friends think. In the world of social media, old-fashion best practice PR is back into vogue (only now in the cloak of online participative marketing), where honesty is the only policy, where we are talking about open, inclusive, authentic dialogues that are driven by the consumers themselves. Coming from the marketing world myself, I understand that relinquishing control is difficult. And this is the vision we have at Eyeka, to enable brands to utilize new media to their best advantage, and at the same time, maintain a degree of brand control. Eyeka’s mission is to assist agencies and brands to navigate the unchartered waters in this brave new world. What we offer is a digital marketplace that connects you with creative talents to run successful online participative campaigns. We leverage on a worldwide community of 30,000 creative talents—semi-pro to professional photographers, graphic designers, video makers and animators—and a dedicated participative platform to guarantee quality contents while maintaining brand control via our moderation tools and legal framework. A great example we have is Giorgio Armani. They were launching a new ad campaign for their latest perfume and they posted their Call for Submissions campaign on Eyeka to get our European creative community to submit quality still ads and video clips. The community stands a chance to win 10,000 Euros and the best reward ever for the creative talents was the possibility to include in his portfolio that he has created work for a prestigious brand like Giorgio Armani. For the brand, other than generating top-class, quality contents from Eyeka’s creative community, the engagement and co-creation strategy enabled great “word of mouth” PR that integrates traditional marketing with new media brilliantly! Our stance is that new media cannot and will not displace traditional media entirely, but it is about making sense of the way we integrate new media and participative marketing into the marketing mix that will generate the best result for the brand. Aside from playing an influential role at Eyeka, GILLES BABINET is the founder of numerous successful start-ups including Absolut (which was sold to Euro RSCG) and Musiwave (sold to Openwave). He is well known in the international speaking circuit for the digital entertainment industry and is a regular speaking figure at Forbes, Ted.com and recently spoke at Ad:tech Singapore.
source: http://adoimagazine.com/newhome/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3199&catid=21&Itemid=11