You’re Only As Social As Your Media

I’ve been faculty advisor this semester for a Master’s Project that involves marketing and building brand presence on Second Life. Consider these statistics: nine million members. 1.6 million online in the past month. Three hours, average time spent each login. And our Fortune 500 client wants to be in front of them.

Why? Nine million is a big number but only 1.6 mil in the past month is no big deal, right? Maybe, maybe not. Consider the results of online research that ad agency JWT recently conducted (as reported in Yahoo News, and elsewhere) that showed, among other things, that four-fifths of the 1,011 participants felt that they could not give up the web for even a week. One third said that they gave (gave — not “would give”) up sex or time with friends for the web. Now that’s commitment.

As reported in eWeek (September 20, 2007), industry analyst firm Gartner predicts that the enterprise social software market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 41.7 percent through 2011, and that the market will blossom over the next four years with investments expanding beyond blogs and wikis to include social software platforms, bookmarking, discussion forums, expertise location, and RSS feeds.

The implication is that social media is not just for digital diehards (or “digital denizens” as JWT calls them — a particularly crappy appellation; Gartner’s “Digital Natives” is a better, if less comprehensive, title) but makes potentially everyone an invitee to the digital party. And increasingly, we’re getting more and better tools to join.

So how would, could, and should you use these tools, as a marketer? Is integration important? Do people need to be trained to know how to use the tools effectively?

Share your thoughts.