Last month we kicked off a series of Web Smart newsletters about how Web 2.0 is affecting advertising and marketing. Advertising 2.0 includes activities like search engine optimization, search engine marketing, and online PR. Believe it or not, these activities are already old school when measured in web time. The focus these days is "conversational media" sometimes referred to as "social media," or "the new attention economy." Whatever it's called (I'll use "conversational media") it is a very real and rapidly growing marketplace of voices, opinions, influence, distribution, and attention--all the things marketers and advertising professionals strive to attain for their clients.
Problem is, the conversation can't really be bought, at least not with dollars. Sure, many blogs have advertising opportunities which can be bought, but placing an ad on a blog where the community resents the advertiser will only buy a very vocal and negative reaction from the crowd--and there's no turning it off once it begins. While dangers exist, so do opportunities for positive momentum which can have impact far beyond the cost the ad. In fact, positive effects can happen even without buying advertising.
Because the world of conversational media is full of pitfalls, some companies feel safer staying away. Unfortunately, this just means that the conversations going on about their brands happen without their voice. And silence is itself a statement in the conversation, usually a negative one.
The biggest conceptual adjustment that brand marketers need make in the Advertising 2.0 world is that the conversation can't be controlled like other forms of marketing. This is of course scary. It's also exciting and potentially very powerful--if engaged properly.
Blogs are currently the primary outlet for conversational media. But before jumping directly into the subject of blogs and blogging here are a few considerations to motivate an embrace of blogs and conversational media.