By Dave Haygarth September 12, 2010
I'm not sure where to post this - I have three 'home' blogs on the go at the moment for various reasons plus one 'work' blog - this post could happily fit in either or all of them really... but it's just as good to pop it here safe and sound.
The reason it could go on either is because there's a big crossover involved. In part, it's about training, racing, fitness... in part about dieting, weightloss, fatness, and in some way's its about internet marketing and reaching target audiences through online advertising.
I listened to (another) great podcast the other evening (whilst in the bath - my preferred place of podcast-consumption) about Internet Marketing (from internetmarketingpodcast.org as it happens), and it touched - in part - on the future of Facebook. The most visited site in the world outside of Google, Facebook is an annoyance to me that I feel like I should visit once in a while, but for various personal reasons it not really my cup of tea. However, with the numbers of visitors involved and its almost unique way of connecting people, its influence can't be ignored.
At one point, someone mentioned advertising on Facebook, and which companies might benefit from targeted adverts to specific groups of people as well as Facebook pages. The publisher then mentioned the dreaded 'Weight Loss' adverts that adorn social networks and you could sense the collective rolling back of eyes even through the medium of an audio podcast. Short of Viagra [sic], those annoying 'You could lose two stones in two months' adverts are an annoyance to people that almost go ignored. Almost.
There must be some law of economics somewhere that says that if paid internet advertising doesn't work, it wouldn't be there. I believe in the round this rings true. After a while, if everybody ignored the ads, people would stop paying to place them there.
But something strange happened to me the other day... I happened to need to lose some weight, (long story involving a very hard cycle race over three mountains), and thought it might be a cathartic experience to write about my experiences of having to shed 9lbs in 25 days. My fairly tongue in cheek 'updates' about what I'm eating, how I'm exercising have helped me share amongst my cycling friends in particular a bit of a gruelling process of losing weight. But suddenly, from out of the ether, came a load of Twitter followers. "Weightloss" twitter followers, whose keyword search and spammy style of following poor unsuspecting tweeters because they happen to mention certain weight / diet related words.... how could they?! The cheek.
... but hang on a minute... I'm a cyclist in my spare time. A keen competitive cyclist who - at times - relishes being "followed" or observed by my peers and indeed anyone from the cycling community. It's commonplace for brands of bikes, or bike shops, or other cycling industry people to follow me and the likes of me on Twitter (or Facebook) as they're connecting with their target market (note - I said connecting - not just "selling to" - but understanding and connecting with).
I suddenly realised that internet advertising and indeed any online marketing like this - be it weightloss ads on Facebook or a bike shop following me on Twitter... it's all just trying to be there to sell me my dream - if I'd just humour them by looking at what they have to offer.
Social media marketing is way more than advertising. Even the most crude "bidding" on certain words or for certain age groups / interest groups... it a whole lot better than the scatter-gun approach of offline campaigns. Find your dreamers, and sell them their dream, be it a shiny new carbon fibre bike, or just a few inches off the waistline.