Social media expert says firms are ‘not in control’

3 Apr 2008

DUBLIN: The crowd has control in the online, networked world and both marketers and businesses need to wake up to this fact, said Will McInnes, CEO of social media consultancy firm NixonMcInnes, at the Search Marketing World 2008 conference in Dublin today.

While the conference looked at a wide range of online marketing areas, from search engine optimisation to blogging to analysing web traffic, McInnes talked about the need for a shift in thinking from a business broadcasting its services to actually listening to the community.

“We’re still hooked on this idea of broadcast and the size and volume of the megaphone. We’re used to buying interruption, and this is seeping into new online worlds.

NixonMcInnes maps online communities and looks for main clusters, outlying areas on specialist topics etc, said McInnes.

“We are dealing in a networked world, so we have to stop acting and start listening and work out who the influences are.”

McInnes said he wanted to hammer home the point that the marketer or business is not in control: “How do you control it? You can’t but you can enter the debate.”

He said if someone says online that they don’t like your product, you must not be tempted to quell those kinds of opinions as this will only inflame the matter instead of making it go awa.

The wisdom of the crowd is important and can be used to the advantage of both the consumer and the organisation, he added, giving the example of Dell’s IdeaStorm website, where anyone can submit an idea and, if popular, it is voted for by others and promoted. If enough votes are given, the idea will be reviewed by Dell.

“Dell has gone through a massive learning curve and is now the poster child for what is possible when organisations use crowd wisdom.”

McInnes went on to declare that social media was the future, a statement in stark contrast to the opinions of keynote speaker Chris Sherman, owner of web search consultancy firm SearchWise.

Sherman called social media a fad, declaring that “it is not worth it in the long run” and outlining the importance of search engine optimisation and keyword relevancy for businesses.

By Marie Boran