Friday, October 30, 2009

It's Not About Marketing 'Cause Groups You Can't Control Can Control the Conversation

John Moore of Swimfish blogs about social support communities. On October 1, he posted his early thoughts on the so-called SSCs, a phrase he coined to describe “discussion groups on steroids.”

As Moore sees it, SSCs incorporate existing social networks (blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter,, YouTube, etc.) as additional channels where customers talk to each other. Moore points out that participants in SSCs typically exclude the larger community, companies, partners, and competitors.

Bottomline: Customers are looking for -- and finding -- ways to talk to each other, get frank answers and unfiltered feedback, and even get and give mutual support.

Organizations and institutions used to control groups. Across industry segments, associations in particular were the meeting ground for people of like mind. Not long ago, if an association didn’t already exist, the only way to gather people of like mind was to actually form an association, which some folks with a cause did (MADD, is a good example, but there are thousands).

The Internet, of course, has changed all that. Today corporations, nonprofits, and associations struggle to maintain relevancy (and control) of the digital community hall.

At the Direct Marketing Association of Washington’s “Association Day” this week, one of the most popular sessions focused on social media. While talking about how to get associations involved in social media, participants noted that some of their members had broken away to form their own groups via Yahoo, Google,, Convos, and any number of the other “group formation” facilitators. This is challenging for traditional associations – not because members are necessarily unhappy, but because splintering is such an easy process.

Splintering doesn't always work, though. LinkedIn Groups – which began as a terrific example of comrades gathering -- are, in my opinion, floundering. The original concept was good, but in short order, many LinkedIn groups were over by people trying to sell something. That’s bad and will likely kill-off or make obsolete some of the (especially larger) groups that originally populated LinkedIn with good intentions.

The point is that associations, nonprofits, and corporations still have a chance to participate, but only if they are cognizant of how people genuinely want groups to function in today’s free-wheeling social media environment.

Finally, a personal case in point: Yesterday I tweeted about Mozy, the offsite computer backup company. I love Mozy because it’s affordable and easy. A recent collaboration with their support team sealed the deal for me. I wanted the folks who follow me to know about Mozy because, for me, it was a real find. I’ve got no skin in the Mozy game so my experience is impartial. I hope somebody out there will read my Mozy tweet and appreciate the news.

That’s how people are finding and sharing info today… from each other. John Moore calls it social support communities. I call it long overdue.

-- scrubbed by Marketing Brillo

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