Comparing SEM and SMM

    November 28, 2007

Colleague Kelly McCoy Williams sent me a great story in the Chicago Tribune about "conversation analysts," which features friend and blogger Jeremiah Owyang. The article writes:

For consumers, social media "gives them an opportunity to tell us exactly what they want and what’s important to them in an uninhibited environment," Andy Markowitz, Kraft’s director of digital media, said in an e-mail. "We’re listening and learning as we go."

It’s interesting comparing this to search engine marketing and what 360i refers to as Search Informed Research. Search engine marketing is all about meeting consumers’ explicit needs as they’re expressed (even though some queries may be for future needs, such as researching purchasing a car, which can have different types of searches over several months).

With conversation analysis and social media, there are two kinds of needs and wants expressed by consumers:

  • Fleeting: Someone posting a message in a group or on a blog about something that matters to them right now
  • Lasting: These are slower to change and generally are posted on parts of their profiles that don’t change as frequently, from their relationship status (on Facebook, a number of great ads have targeted me as someone who’s engaged – a status that has lasted a year but will ultimately change) to they’re favorite sports teams and TV shows. On Facebook, you can target these interests with their ad platform, rather than the immediate needs.

What’s important for marketers is to appreciate the difference between those types needs and interests and tailor their marketing accordingly. When I say that I’m engaged and a fan of The Office and Philip Roth, I’m expressing who I am. When I say I thought the last episode of The Office was pretty good is more useful as one opinion aggregated among many others.