A 'Social' Butterfly1 Jun, 2008 By: Thomas Haire Response
Susan McKenna's career evolution, from brand to direct response, has made her a leader in the E-commerce world. As that evolution continues, she believes social media might really be the next big thing.
Is Social Media DR's Future?
McKenna's excitement for mobile marketing transitions to an even greater excitement for the social media space — and even combining the two. She contends, "People look at mobile, and wonder, 'How can I get my message out on cell phones?' But people need to jump the chasm of 'talking to' and go to 'talking with.' You're in a dialog with them, and that's how we move from sales to commerce. That's what social media is going to do for marketers in the future. Mobile is a perfect platform for that."
McKenna says that utilizing the popularity of social networking online has to start with the idea of "community." She also tires of hearing social networking and Web 2.0 as just "buzzwords," while people don't dig deeper to understand what they could mean for marketers in the near future. "Web 2.0 is a vast buzzword, but what does it really mean?" she asks. "To me, it's about the next generation of what's online for us to use as consumers and as marketers. Community is a big part of that, but a major part of social networking is about collaboration and communication."
Those two ideas come up repeatedly when McKenna discusses concepts that may have value to marketers looking at how to first broach the social media landscape. "What if, on an E-mail marketing message or on a Web page, I have a mobile or Web application — a button or something — that says, 'Send to 5 friends.' That's collaboration. Or what if, in that E-mail, there was a link to Kaboodle — one of the largest social networking, E-commerce product-oriented Web sites out there. What would it look like if I could add the offer to my Kaboodle site? Or if I could access my Kaboodle site from my mobile phone? E-mail and Web alerts are great, but it's just the first step. Marketers have to think, 'How do I turn that into collaboration and community?'"
Again, though, she cautions marketers to think and look past those buzzwords. And while she says Borba was exploring, with varying success, the value of connecting with major social media sites like MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Kaboodle and others during her stint, she contends that marketers new to the social media area should begin internally. "What they need to be wary of is looking at social media in too broad of a perspective," she says. "My advice would be to start little. Social networking can be as small as adding a discussion board to your Web site. That's the beginning of community. It can be as little as user-generated content like product reviews."
As she moves into her new role, McKenna sees social media and mobile as the next great steps in cementing the Internet's dominance as a direct response marketing outlet. And, she says, they fit her overall vision of the direct response space, of which she is an unabashed booster.
"The message I would give to any small, medium or large company is that DR marketing works," she avers. "It's measurable, it leaves you accountable. It gives you the information that you need to build your business."