Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Make Social Networks Your SM Malls

Thinks Malls = Think Crowds!

Ask any successful Filipino business owner for tips about the secret to making it and he'd probably tell you that first, you have to find the best location and doing that, things would probably work smoothly from then on. Ignore it and you'd probably be spending your entire budget on marketing or scraping every inch to get people to come for a visit, much less hoping for a sale. Care to wonder why mall spaces are quite expensive? Think SM, Glorietta and the like ...

Which brings us to the world of social networks. You might ask, 'Why should I care?' Well, it's just that your customers and clients are already at social networks or social media Web sites. You can find them on MySpace, Multiply and Friendster. They're LinkedIn, they have Facebook pages and they use Twitter. Their photos are at Flickr while their movies are in YouTube. You need to go to where your customers are. That my friend is why you should care.

In this social web milieu, the power in the transaction has moved to the customer, who now has many sources of information, and the ability to solicit and form opinions from not only their friends and their friend's friends but massive numbers of people around the world. Obviously, these self-organizing connections will continue to be a powerful influence behind the company and the brands.

Have brands ever really been the property of companies? In truth they never have, brands belong to customers, customer who are now informed and connected to other customers with experience and opinions which they are not at all shy to share. More than any other time, control of messaging has never been more but an exercise in futility.

So what are businesses to do?

Honestly, I don't have the correct answer except to go there listen, contribute and participate. It may seem trivial for it may appear as simple as any Pinoy conversation you've had offline but it's power lies in its ability to connect more people, over a greater distance than ever before (and those web imprints last a lot longer for other people to read).

(Or you jumpstart your foray into it by joining the Social Networking and eBusiness Conference Philippines 2009.)

There are a lot of questions. The rules are still being written. Where does social networking end and sales negotiations begin? Is this the future of the Web, or just another hype? What's in it for the Pinoy Entrepreneur?

As Walter Pike wrote in his excellent piece, "The only thing that seems certain is that people are congregating at these social networking sites at an astounding rate. The landscape is changing, and these sites have become the backyard fences, the coffee shops, and the street corners of the 21st century."

Ignore them at your own risk.