Thursday, March 10, 2005

The "So What?" of Social Networking

My dad used to tell me "Its not what you know but who you know." The online social networking phenomenon threatens to use technology not only to facilitate digital schmoozing but potentially to leverage my friends contacts' and connections and their friends' networks as well.
Though frankly my friends are hardly that generous.

As a marketer the proliferation of social networking sites like Zero Borders, Spoke, Friendster and Linked In or the addressbook sites, like Plaxo and Ringo, who have the 1-click ability to quickly sweep your contact list into the maelstrom, might be very credible word-of-mouth communication channels both for personal and brand messages. I guess the value of the channel will be determined by what you want to do with it.

So far without all these guys (by simple batch e-mail) I'm able to convince a bunch of my contacts to sponsor my sorry ass in the annual AIDS WALK. I'm not sure if its the cause, the modest request of $25 bucks or the perverse pleasure of imagining me and my dog actually walking 10k that persuades them. I doubt the media vehicle -- e-mail -- counts much in their decision to help or not. I doubt my yield would double if I asked my friends to ask their friends.

I signed up on all these sites. I guess I'm not much of a connection. So far, I've been asked to make 1 job introduction for my friend's b-school buddy from Texas, updated my address a dozen times and had 2 headhunters track me down. I'm not giving out much and getting nothing in return, probably par for the course in relationship land.

Jim Dickie of CSO Insights tells a different story in DestinationCRM magazine. He says that on Linked In his 54 contacts knew 500 sales VPs. He selected 30 and asked them to make an intro for him. 29 complied and of those 23 actually made the connection from which 18 participated in his questionaire. Jim is scoring it as a 60% response rate, which even if you quibble, is significantly better than if he'd had cold called the target group.

That's the potential. People sign up knowing they might be contacted. They trade who they know for who you know in the hope that somebody knows somebody who will open a door, make a connection, take your call or give you a break. I'd like to give it a whirl.


Blogger nago said...

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3:42 AM  

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