Social networking for fun and profit

4 July 2008 at 12:26 pm Leave a comment

Beefy and Lamby\'s Summer BBQ

Pen Stuart writes:

The irresistible rise of social networking has long had media types trying to calculate the best ways to make some money from them. But marketers are increasingly finding that these routes work best when brands provide a service rather than just push their message, creating what’s become known as ‘branded utility’. There are recent examples. The Beef and Lamb Sector Company, EBLEX Ltd, has launched a Facebook application, “Beefy & Lamby’s Summer BBQ”, featuring – from the TV campaign – the sometime England cricketers Ian Botham and Allan Lamb to help people plan their summer barbeques. Leaving aside the question of whether 50-something cricketers are the best match for the somewhat younger Facebook crowd, it does give users a useful service that encourages consumption of their product and also raises brand awareness, even if it seems to be building its audience slowly (26 visitors on the day this post was written). The apparent selflessness of this service can help build brand loyalty in times when ravenous profiteering is increasingly frowned upon.

MakeTheTea.com, created by Cravendale, takes this one step further, devoting a whole site and social network to their utility. This allows office workers to input their tea (and coffee) preferences and link up with their colleagues. The site randomly selects one person to make the round, overcoming the reluctance of any individual to ask around and get stuck with the task. The site seems to be flourishing, with almost 70,000 brews made since its April launch

But there are still questions about the future of such ventures – they have the feel of short-term awareness campaigns which seem certain to be pulled in due course. Yet for low-maintenance promotion such as this, the best approach may be different, especially as these types of internet communities are endlessly discovered anew by different groups, each time creating waves of publicity through blogging and social network invites. In the world of social networking the fundamental assumptions of ‘offline’ publicity may need an overhaul. Or at least, as marketers like to say, more research may be required.

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Entry filed under: digital, marketing, media.

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The Futures Company was created through the merger of Henley Centre HeadlightVision and Yankelovich in 2008. This is the blog of the new company - but the former posts from the former Henley Centre Headlightvision blog still can be found here.


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