So the logical evolution of social networking is taking hold. In todays volatile marketplace, the success of manufacturers, advertisers, marketers, and media companies in creating long-term value and stickiness depends primarily on their ability to develop great stategies wrapped around great value propositions quickly. So what better way than to use the power of social networks?
I use the terms great strategies and value props. because todays consumers are as discerning as they have ever been. Why? Because they are armed to the teeth with more information than they know what to do with. And now with social networks, the ability for consumers to talk and share and recommend virally, is as big a challenge for marketers et al. as it has ever been. But it can also be a major home run if done right.
That strategy appears to have taken flight with Viacom for instance. You may not know Viacom as well as you do their MTV properties. Having said that, MTV has recently announced that is jumping back into the social-networking game. In 2005, News Corp. outbid Viacom for social-networking giant MySpace.com. Since then, Viacom has largely been on the sidelines in the growing market. Now the company is focusing on creating a vast array of highly targeted Web sites that are loosely connected and focus mostly on programming such as VH1 Classic, Jackass, and Sucker Free on MTV.
When we mentioned product-centric strategies earlier, this is a case in point where Viacom/MTV has a solid brand they are looking to grow and expand into new markets and new channels using all of the resources available to it. One of them being social networks.
MTV’s highly-targeted web sites will be at the core of the company’s digital efforts. MTV sees its content as its strength, and thus they have decided to wrap that content with the power of social networking. In the past year, the company has constructed 32 new sites. The idea is to create a type of assembly line for Web sites. Those sites that find an audience will continue to be nurtured and those that don’t will be stripped down and “reskinned,” or refitted for the next experiment. Kind of like the 10 day “look-see” contracts athletes get in professional sports. They essentially have 10 days to impress. If they don’t, away they go.
Interestingly enough, the company doesn’t plan to spend a lot of cash in promoting the sites. The reason being that they have the utmost confidence in their content and the viral ability of the Web to spread the word. Given that lack of faith, I’m going to give Viacom/MTV a 10 day look-see to see if this particular strategy pays off. It almost gives you the sense that they are saying,”we love your idea, we just don’t want to sink much money into it, until it works”.
While killer business processes, off-the-hook customer service, and bleeding edge technology all play vital roles in todays web 2.0 world, companies that create and buy into solid product-centric strategies and processes with the customer in mind, will be those that build valuable loyal brands and profitable businesses beyond the 21st century. It remains to be seen though if this particular strategy will pay off for Viacom/MTV.