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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

JupiterResearch Tries to Redefine "Social Marketing"

Today's Adotas email newsletter carried the story of JupiterResearch's new initiative they are calling their "Social Marketing" service.  The offering is described in the language below and is further explored in a launch announcement blog post from Emily Riley, their lead analyst:

Social Marketing helps companies capitalize on cutting-edge marketing techniques. Through best-practice analysis and consumer and executive surveys, the research shows marketers how to profit from the use of Weblogs, podcasts, really simple syndication (RSS) and other emerging marketing tools, as well as how to develop, execute and measure word-of-mouth campaigns.

There is one big issue with the service that needs to be noted right away -- which is that social marketing is a recognized term for an entirely different type of marketing that relates to social issues and advocacy.  JupiterResearch certainly won't be winning any fans in that community among the likes of Nedra Weinreich or Craig Lefebvre by choosing to hijack the social marketing term for social media.  Aside from this oversight, there are some subtle signs that offering this new service may be a bit of a stretch for JupiterResearch.  For example, though they have launched a large number of Analyst blogs, readers cannot leave comments or trackbacks on their posts.  With many smart agencies, research organizations and independent consultants launching services in the social media space - it is no longer enough to issue a statement declaring a new expertise.  To make it credible, organizations need to demonstrate a commitment to social media in everything they do.


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The problem is that a lot of large companies won't (or don't know how to) do their research to find competent sources for social media marketing. All they need to see is the big agency name and they are sold. This is something we see A LOT of in the search engine marketing industry.

Thanks for posting on this. I saw it too but could not find an easy way to get in touch with the (new) analyst. Nedra and I went around this "appropriation" of the term many moons ago with Charlene Li, but I guess it's too good a phrase to pass up.
Interacting with social networks is marketing in the true "relationship" sense of the word. I'm getting a kick at the 'push back' being reported at MySpace among users and the "brand" profiles. Barging into communities, including the social marketing one, does not earn any long term respect or commitment.
I would have a lot of hesitation about using services who don't do their homework when it comes to tagging themselves in such ways. Again, not very adept in marketing to networks (not individuals). That shift in perspective has a long way to go yet.

I actually just posted something on this issue on my blog before I came over here and read your (very similar) take on it. I sent a note to Emily Riley via Jupiter's generic comment submission form asking for her response to our concerns. Sometimes it feels as if we're fighting a losing battle on the appropriation of the terminology, but perhaps if we get enough of the big fish (Forrester, Jupiter, etc.) to swim somewhere else, we can turn the tide (okay, strange metaphor, but you get the point).

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