Monday, May 5, 2008

GUEST BLOGGER: It's not about us anymore...

I had several titles for this post, including:

The more things change, the more things REALLY change...

Out with the old (marketing), in with the new (marketing)....

We're hearing a lot about web 2.0 these days. We've watched YouTube videos and joined LinkedIn and we've even visited some of our colleagues' MySpace pages. However, some of the conversations I've been having with our content creators in the Mason School and with those in the re.web project, indicate that we still operate under the impression that web 2.0 is for them and we'll just keep doing what we've been doing. After all, we ARE William & Mary for crying out loud!

Newsflash: Web 2.0 is for us because it is about THEM.

Business to Consumer marketing (B2C) is over. It's Consumer to Consumer (C2C) marketing now. People are highly sophisticated (and a little cynical) when it comes to parsing out what's important to them. THEY are not interested in what we have to say unless we're talking with them and not AT them. The old marketing was to blast a consumer with images and messages. New marketing is to get people talking about the product and recommending it to each other. People still trust each other when it comes to decisions. Word of mouth and referrals from friends and family are still the way people make decisions and form opinions. The web can facilitate this in ways we've never imagined.

We can do this in the form of blogs. Yes, it's a little scary but there are ways to moderate them and bloggers have a great way of policing themselves, too. Because of the viral nature of the internet, blogs are indexed, tracked, and spread around the world. Blogs index each other, so one article could become singled out and influential. (Remember the old hair shampoo commercial--and they told two people, and so on, and so on...) has tracked that there are over 80 million blogs worldwide now. The conversations are happening between people and we will be smart to join the conversations and give people opportunities to talk with us and about us.

Realize this: A post on a blog anywhere in the world can be ranked higher in a Google search than the same information posted on a website by a company or an organization. This means that what WE say doesn't matter as much was what the bloggers say. Major news organizations are now dipping into the "blogosphere" for news!

People are sharing opinions and insights about products, institutions, and ideas that carry a lot more credibility than we can ever dream of. The point is that the best way to get more people talking and thinking about William and Mary is to to encourage more talking and thinking about W&M. The bottom line is that ideas that are spread through groups of people are far more powerful than ideas that are delivered at an individual. The idea of William and Mary is a powerful one. Our students that come here know this and the more they talk about it, the better. Their experiences and the viral nature of the internet is a powerful combination.

We need to embrace the C2C concept and create more access points for our stories to be told and heard and repeated, an so on and so on. Blogs, wikis, vlogs--it sounds like a different language. Because it is. The internet has created a whole new world for communication.

posted by Andrea Sardone, Director of Marketing Communications, The Mason School of Business

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