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Does the power of weak ties signal the death of marketing?

September 6, 2008

Clive Thompson has written an excellent piece for the New York Times on the world of social networking, digging deeper under the surface to understand what it’s all about.

One quote struck me as especially interesting and concerning for those of us in the branding/marketing business.

“Fritton joked to me that she no longer buys anything worth more than $50 without quickly checking it with her Twitter network.

“I
outsource my entire life,” she said. “I can solve any problem on
Twitter in six minutes.” (She also keeps a secondary Twitter account
that is private and only for a much smaller circle of close friends and
family — “My little secret,” she said. It is a strategy many people
told me they used: one account for their weak ties, one for their
deeper relationships.)”

Obviously, Twitter is not yet a mass market media, but it’s getting there.

In his piece Thompson suggests that the power in the social networks lies in the weak ties and those loose affiliations. They have the volume and because of their diversity they can be useful to people; helping them find jobs, get tax advice, etc.

Where does marketing fit in this world?

It’s tough to interrupt these “ties”, but clearly marketing folks need to take these networks a little more seriously because they are the “canaries in the coal mine” of a very possible future.

Like any issue with masses of complexity, brands prefer to shy away because they are afraid, but in this case they need to experiment, learn, fail and explore.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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