I am approaching this line of thought from big to small, probably not going small enough but let’s see.
The New York times published an article titled “Share the Moment and Spread the Wealth” where they talk about the importance of sharing content by leveraging influencers in social media platforms and how Internet sharing companies like AddThis and ShareThis have been growing lately. It concludes that this trend may cause friction on the Internet Industry as “search engine optimizer” firms like Google compete with these “social media optimizer” firms. And posts a question to discuss if and/or how people will share smaller bits of content. Also, I read an article in the last edition of Fast Company, titled “How much are you worth to Facebook?”, which talks about embracing content sharing by giving incentives to people to share content, all this supported by technology like Lotame that helps you target influencers based on behavioral data.
I think that both articles are approaching it the wrong way and I don’t agree with their position for moral reasons. Human beings have personal relationships and professional relationships that many times overlap with each other, but there is alway one governing relationship when it comes to trust. If the solution to monetize social media is by muddling the waters and introducing money to relationships based on trust and friendship, I think we are evolving against core values of a healthy society. But, who am I to say that?. However, I think if that were to be the future or next evolution of social media and online social behavior we would face a world with closer and smaller networks built on trust and friendship, which will co-exist with in larger social networks. The tools exist today, Facebook has some if you want to tightly manage your social networks. The need exist today, it is just not massive yet. The question is then, what are we marketers going to do as we face tighter and tighter communities that find ways to protect themselves from marketing messages and advertising? I think the solutions must come from firms truly living their brands and their identity, where employees, customers, partners, suppliers, and other industry related groups pass the word, share the content.
The key is that the content must fit within their social activities – not easy for certain companies. I think that the ability to constantly produce content innovation that is tied to brand values and that is real will help firms find and retain loyal customers/clients.