Social Networking Hits the Marketing Mark (But Misses a Beat or Two)

It took some exploration time, but I totally see the recruiting, sales, marketing and business value (and the light) when it comes to using social networking tools beyond LinkedIn, blogging and our own HRmarketer Community.

My colleagues and I have already made a few business connections (partners, leads) via Twitter, although my wife was just saying to me, “Who cares if you’re just going out to water the backyard, why are you tweeting about it?” (I felt the same way just a few weeks ago.) And the same with LinkedIn, which also has a great business discussion platform for your LinkedIn network.

I’m still debating over MySpace ever since the first time I signed up I was solicited by girls that were fronts for porn sites. Don’t get me wrong, MySpace is a great marketing vehicle for musicians and artists for a specific demographic, but not necessarily for promoting B2B businesses. (Great story about new Boston lead singer being found on MySpace.)

I also haven’t done much with Facebook yet beyond personal networking, but I know there are many businesses that glean marketing and sales success.

And businesses are developing their own social networking sites every week. My wife and I are big Saturn fans and owners and I just received an email invite this weekend to join ImSaturn.

So it’s working, connecting businesses, employees, customers and prospective buyers every day online.

But then I read an article last Friday in the San Jose Mercury News:

To save money in these tough times, universities, conference planners and global companies have started holding gatherings for far-flung employees and students in the online world known as Second Life.

On a recent afternoon in Second Life, about 20 avatars - the personalized character each inhabitant of the virtual world adopts - gathered for a lecture on software development sponsored by Intel. The semiconductor giant planned the event to spark conversation about complex technical topics among employees and others across the globe.

The Intel employee who opened the event was a tuxedoed half-man, half-lynx. He turned over the talk to an avatar in a tight, white shirt who called himself Zombie Bob. In the audience, a woman with a ponytail and sunglasses slept in the front row and a blue-skinned man with spiky hair listened attentively.

Half-man, half-lynx?


Listen, I admit I played D&D in my youth, and really enjoyed it (I was a witty dwarf named Shawken who carried a double-sided battle ax). And I’m a big believer in freedom of expression. But stop this, please.

I beg of you.

Anyway, while social networking services can’t substitute for meeting in person, the cost of travel can limit it and drive the continued development of more business social networking.

Save the costumes for Comic-con, though.

Posted by Kevin Grossman

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