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Changing perspective – again…

December 19, 2010

Recently at an SNQ management meeting we were discussing some design ideas for a new web site for one of our clients.  The topic at hand was a form that allows a user to sign up for email updates, which has been a very common feature for marketing websites for over a decade, when we suddenly realized that what we should have been discussing was an option for following our client on Twitter.  This isn’t a new idea for us, of course – in fact, SNQ has had a lot of success in the recent past with an offering for total social network management – but it’s surprising how easy it is to fall back into the long-standing, comfortable positions we’ve held for so long.  But the fact is, electronic marketing is changing.  The days when most users are willing to give up their email address on a marketing website (that is, a website that isn’t delivering any other specific service, such as a shopping cart) are fast departing.  Instead, users feel much more comfortable following a business on Twitter, or friending them on Facebook, because in both situations the user has total control over the relationship.  Too many of us have been burned by email campaigns that never stop, or unsubscribe options that remove us from one list, only to have our address sold to other marketers, but if I decide that I don’t need updates from you on my Twitter account, that’s entirely up to me.

In some ways, this is great news for marketers out there.  Many users (over twenty million on Twitter alone, as of the last count) are willing to accept updates from far more sites than they used to, simply because of that control.  On the other hand, maintaining a following can be a lot more work, because people expect far more from communication through Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks than they ever have in the past.  It’s not going to be enough just to broadcast your latest pitch any more – people expect social networking to be fun, and it is the job of electronic marketers to meet that expectation, which means mixing personal interaction in with the business side of things.

Rising to this new challenge can be difficult, but also very rewarding.  Hiring a social-network manager, redesigning public websites (spoiler alert – look for a redesign of the SNQ site, http://www.statusnotquo.com, in the near future), reducing email marketing in favor of other avenues; these are a few of the avenues many businesses are pursuing to take this new user expectation into account.  But whatever your business does, it behooves the savvy business-owner to recognize yet another change of perspective in his customers.

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