Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
September 16, 200811:50 PM

You Can't Buy Community

It's not possible for your brand to sell anybody anything in an online social network.

(unless all you're doing is buying online advertising).

After spending the day with over three thousand people who are looking for ways to sell more online at the Annual Summit 08 in Las Vegas, it became abundantly clear that most Marketers think they can get engaged in any (and all) Social Media and Web 2.0 channels by simply paying for it.

You can't buy your way into a community. You have to earn your place.

In fact, most brands will have to work even harder to create the value and trust in these social circles because people's instincts will tingle with the feeling that somebody's trying to sell them something (which makes them not like online social networks). Building trust, providing value and making your mark is a long hard road and it takes a fair amount of strategy, time, effort and sheer intestinal fortitude.

Find a wizard.

That was the main message of my presentation titled, Social Media and the Reluctant Retailer. One of the best ways to build trust is to find someone within your organization (or from outside) who is very interested in these channels and your industry, and would love take part in them as your evangelist - regardless of the pay. A wizard is someone with hidden talents that would love to reveal them and integrate them into their everyday work.

In his morning keynote presentation, Don Tapscott (author of Wikinomics and the soon-to-be released book, Grown Up Digital), demonstrated how Millennials think (aka Digital Natives or, as Tapscott calls them, the Net Generation). Simply put one of their key drivers to succeeding in the workplace has little to do with title and salary, but everything to do with how much fun they have on the job and the speed with which stuff gets done.

Your wizard is someone who would love to have fun and work come together (because it's what their passionate about).

How do you find a wizard?

If you're looking to create some videos, look for the person who loves playing with their motion graphics software at home. It's probably the same person who doesn't want to show you home videos of their most recent family trip, because instead they turned it into a full-feature movie with credits, audio overdubs and snappy editing. If you're looking to start a Blog or get involved on Twitter, try to identify the individual who used to write for the high school newspaper or the person who still submits music reviews to the local alternative rag. In terms of images, find the person who is a real shutterbug by passion (odds are you can identify them by their flickr pro account). For Podcasting or other audio ideas, look for someone who either is a musician that does weekend recordings or someone who dabbled in radio at University.

Your wizard does not have to be in the Marketing department.

Don't expect the head of marketing to be the person on Twitter or the marketing coordinator to shoot your YouTube video. To truly build something compelling, the passion has to start with the person who is creating or producing the content and - more often than not - it might be best for Marketing to empower that person versus forcing someone in the department to do it simply because they are in marketing.

What other tips can you share with us to find the best wizards within a company?

By Mitch Joel