Social media is changing marketing. Duh.

I’m stealing Dups’ soapbox today, and I’m going to use it to talk about marketing. I can hear the frenzied shrieks of panic echoing through the quickly-emptying room, as you all rush to get to the exit. “He’s a dirty marketing guy!” I hear a woman scream, the fear and loathing quite apparent. Thoughts of high-priced-and-forgettable TV ads, annoying direct-mail sales brochures and Vi@gra spam rush through your head. Stop running, I say. Those were the old days. You’re now seated safely and comfortably in a new age of marketing.

As we’ve so eloquently (and subtly) put it, Empire Avenue is all about you, whoever “you” is… err… are. We’re not the only company kicking that concept around — companies like Facebook and Twitter and Digg and others follow the same ideal, putting the individual at the center of their business. People all over the world are sharing their opinions about companies, products, celebrities, vacation destinations and anything else people talk about. Before Twitter existed, did you talk to your friends about movies? Of course you did, but the difference now is that you have more friends to talk to. You don’t even have to see them to tell them about how seeing “Avatar in 3D was OMG DROOL BUT THE SUBTITLE FONTS? LMAO.” And other people can often “listen in” on these conversations and join the discussion.

You didn’t very well think you could do that without dirty marketers noticing, did you? Good marketers have taken notice, too, and companies fortunate enough to have these good marketers on their side will benefit in the long run, taking advantage of today’s new breed of connected consumer. Not to toot my own horn too loudly (you can get in trouble for that sort of thing in this part of the world), but I’ve always been an advocate of supporting the “little guy.” After all, behind each page view or purchase or whatever lies an individual, who is just as important as every other individual. The companies and marketers who understand that are the same ones who see tremendous promise in Twitter and its ilk.

They’ve come to the astoundingly obvious conclusion that each individual is a potential customer and, perhaps even more importantly, a sort of “marketing beacon.” If I treat that one customer really well, he may tell his friends about my company. Ten years ago, we called this grassroots marketing. Five years ago, it was viral marketing. Now we call it social media. Regardless of what we call it, word of mouth is the driving force, and as more and more people get on Facebook or other social networks, word of mouth becomes an increasingly important contributor to a company’s continued success. Fortunately for consumers, positive word of mouth is built upon responsible marketing, great customer service and solid products. As a consumer, we can now expect more out of the companies we support. We can expect them to listen to our needs and desires, and to give us advertising, products and services that actually benefit us.

With Empire Avenue — at least for now — word of mouth is our main marketing tool. Sure, it’s a bit of a challenge to get people really interested in a concept that we haven’t actually explained yet, but we want you all to feel like you’re part of what we’re creating. We want you to tell us what you want, not only from us, but from the advertisers and partners we work with. Empire Avenue really is about empowering individuals. It’s about connecting individuals with companies and vice versa, with the ultimate goal of changing how you think about advertising.
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