Advertising in the Age of Social Capitalism

by Dan Robles on 01/04/2009

spam-237x300The recipe for selling great products to great customers in the age of Social Media resides first in helping people find their highest talent and passion.  Current narrative suggests that advertisers need to offer something to the community that they target.  The best place to start is in understanding the challenges and opportunities that a modern community faces.

The great innovations of our time were created by people doing what they enjoyed most by using their talents to the highest potential.  Disney, Boeing, Apple, Mattel, and nearly every other ground breaking venture had the secret sauce of people doing what they were best at and most passionate about.

Computer Enabled Society is in the midst of a struggle to reorganize itself outside of the construct of the traditional corporation. It seeks to develop methods and systems that allow for the reallocation of social capital, creative capital, and intellectual capital to match a person’s natural talents and passions with those complementary to other people. This is as true for communities as it is for corporations.  The result will be a profound new paradigm of Social Capitalism in an Innovation Economy.

Substantial innovation potential and efficiency will be gained with important future applications of social media as specified by The Ingenesist Project and others.  If marketers have the foresight and methods to “get ‘em while they’re young”, they certainly also have the foresight and methods to develop ‘em to their highest purchasing potential.  All they need to do is listen and support to the future trends in Social Capitalism.

Instead, mass marketing pays mass money for mass audience from which to draw mass revenues.  As a result, actual products are designed to be marketed and thrown away; not to be particularly useful, productive, or even healthy.  Unnecessary innovation wastes human effort and natural resources while mass marketing of unnecessary innovation wastes the time and bandwidth of those for whom the product is irrelevant (yes, it’s all Spam).  Economies of scale will become liabilities of scale in an Social Capital driven Innovation Economy.

Few realize that advertising can become a highly useful component of the Innovation Economy.  In many professional societies, practitioners look forward to hearing from vendors, educators, and fellow practitioners for trends, news, and developments that can strengthen their community.  Bad products are rejected quickly and good ones are elevated quickly. This is how the great innovations are found. This is where the early adopters congregate. This is where brand loyalty is unyielding. This is where wealth is created.  This is efficiency that society wants and needs.

The Ingenesist Project starts the discussion by specifying the creation of a knowledge inventory in society.  This simple exercise enables communities of practice to form around a set of knowledge attributes.  Advertisers can quickly identify target markets and support the operating costs of these communities in exchange for the bandwidth of the members.   The community will look forward to learning about the advances in the field of their interest and ad copy will become far more useful and efficient to deliver in greater detail.

When communities of practice merge with other communities in the innovation process, the message of the advertiser can be carried far and clear as people share ideas and coordinate activity.  Feedback to the vendor is highly qualified thereby creating a virtuous circle of innovation.  In the age of social media, highly targeted advertising is simply more efficient than “bending the herd” in a TV era mass market model.

A similar conclusion can be made for print news media as it crashes from favor in the Internet age, but I’ll leave that analysis for my next post.  The point is that the market to communities is fluid, dynamic, specific, and must meet certain needs.  The dynamics of communities will replace the statics of demography.  Fulfill those needs of a community and your products will win.  It is not difficult to see the future, only to act on it – that is innovation.

[The Ingenesist Project is an open source economic development program promoting an innovation economy]


Ted Shelton January 8, 2009 at 12:06 am

Not sure what you mean when you say that the article prescribes the remedy. You write:

“In the age of social media, highly targeted advertising is simply more efficient than “bending the herd” in a TV era mass market model.”

Sure – that is true, but not a remedy. A continuation of the mistake — the remedy is to just stop advertising.

thanks for the dialog!

Dan Robles January 6, 2009 at 5:36 pm

It seems that we agree on similar points. The premise of the article prescribes this remedy. At the end of the day, the marketing department needs to adapt in order to obtain the rewards of the relationship economy, otherwise, tacit and implicit social filters will dilute the message at best and poison the message at worst (in the eyes of the marketer).

Thanks for your comment.

Ted Shelton January 6, 2009 at 1:10 am

Dan: But if the content of the communication from the company to the community is valuable information, why doesn’t the company publish the information and talk to the community about the information — then to the extent it is of value, the community will spread that information. That is the point of my response. If I am searching for new construction materials, sure advertise to me. Otherwise be a participant in my community and offer the information — in a NON-advertising way. And you will then become a resource and “friend” and I will be interested in the next thing you have to say as well. But if you advertise your innovation, I will assume it is not an innovation but is just something you are flogging.

Especially in B2B communities, advertising has to be used quite sparingly – both targeted at the right person and the right TIME. The attention value is typically so much higher than the consumer. So the investment in building a RELATIONSHIP (isn’t that what it is all about?) should be so much higher…

Dan Robles January 4, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Ted; The emphasis of the article is mutual acceptance and mutually serving communities. A community of practice in construction does clearly want to hear about new innovations in construction materials in an asymmetric environment and not necessarily laundry detergent. That is the point of the article.


Walter Pike January 4, 2009 at 8:11 am

RT @JDeragon: Advertising in the Age of Social Capitalism: The market to communities is fluid, dynamic, spec..

Ted Shelton January 4, 2009 at 8:58 am

Ugh! “Highly targeted advertising” is still SPAM. If I receive a message that I didn’t ask for, from a person I don’t know – it is spam in my book. The problem with “targeted advertising” is that you are leaving out a crucial part of the equation — is the person I am targeting (note military language) interested in being shot at, I mean in receiving the message?

There are cases where the person IS interested. Search advertising can be exceptionally effective (and welcome!) for this reason. But just knowing that you have the “right” person doesn’t mean that you have the right moment for putting your blockade or clutter into that person’s media experience.

Until advertising can be targeted both around “who” AND “when” it will be spam.

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