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When did Social Media become Marketing

Marketing as a function within an organisation appears to have declined. Similarly Social Media is springing up everywhere. How did this happen?

I guess it was inevitable from the start. As the Internet spread, marketing has become more of a pull and connect activity than the passive TV style push ‘at you’ effort.

‘Social Marketing’ has become the norm. Ad-words, Twitters, Blogs and emails are full of marketing material. Users are so accustomed to them. Messages thrust through the ether as subliminally constant droplets of marketing pour constantly through our friends and associates.

This has been spreading since the Internet came about. The rising tide of Social Media jobs and loss of journalistic and marketing jobs points to a change in direction. Now it is big business – a flood of subliminal sales presentations that come by stealth behind us through our most trusted loved ones.

As corporations are pruning their marketing teams, they are taking on Social Networkers, people who seem adept at making friends and influencing people. Stephen Fry is one example of a great social networker with interesting things to say and to tell us.

Other networkers might be less obvious in their intentions. They might be working for organisations to sell you things, as associates, on commission, even paid a salary or on a contract basis. They will be good at making you feel ‘special’, especially if you have a network of people too. This is guerrilla marketing, used as a weapon. We call it Social Networking. But can you really trust these people?

In the world of social media, are we being ‘taught’ that this is a good product, by our peers and influencers. How do we know if our new found social friend is not just a human marketing bot ‘portraying’ a ‘typical’ person within that market segment – hopefully to catch you with the bait of ‘they’re just like me’ to try their product. Perhaps that ‘friend’ you made online, who you divulged your deepest secrets to, is nothing more than a social media expert who is cynically using you to sell to and to promote through your own network of pals.

Social Media is the future. It influences small pockets of a target market, which have feeds into other small pockets via the individuals in that group. Other terms for it are viral marketing, or neural networks. This has been understood since the 1940’s but has only now been able to be fully exploited with the onset of social networking.

To look at some of the theory behind this we have to look back to the 1940’s.

The study of Neural Networks is a fascinating revelation of what is happening in marketing today. Alan Turing’s initially random B-type network from his 1948 work on ‘Intelligent Machinery’ shows what a loosely coupled marketing network looks like – the one we see today in Social Media. However, he aw computers as the ‘unorganised machines’ that eventually self-organise their information and get it to the right place through random distribution. Targeting individuals through connectionist models is part of a well-understood method of neural learning.

As for the future, we will increasingly see the rise of virtual social ‘marketeers’ parrying and thrusting their offerings to us and through us. Virtual ‘avatars’ add you to their friends’ list of over 1000 people. They send you notices to events miles away from you – that you have no chance of attending. They ask you for personal information ‘because you are friends’ then use it to target you for their clients’.

‘Social Media’ is the new ‘Marketing’. If your friend is really a ‘friend’, they will come over to talk to you in the real world, not email you or IM you. A friend is someone you touch, smell, see and hear – in the real world. Someone you party with and cry with – and hug, for joy and pain – to feel the real warmth in human interaction.

We all have to watch out for social media experts masquerading as your friend. If virtual they are and virtual they remain, then can you trust them? – ask them for money – see if they will lend it to you, or ask to meet them next Wednesday.

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