Author Archive

Why Facebook Is A Tactic, Not A Strategy

Posted by Katie Morse on December 11th, 2009

By Sang Kim

December 11, 2009

Brand marketers seem to be jumping on the Facebook bandwagon left and right. They know engagement through social networking is important to understanding consumers, so they’re trying to do it. However, creating a branded community locked within Facebook or any other broad-reaching social network is probably not the best long-term strategy for communicating with consumers.

Don’t get me wrong, Facebook is not a bad marketing practice — 300 million users is a big pond to fish in. Done properly and coupled with other social marketing tactics, it can enhance any big picture social media strategy. But let’s be clear, Facebook is a tactic, not a strategy.

Here are a few reasons why:

User intent
On Facebook and similar sites, you never really know why someone is there, but for the most part, the intent of the user is to interact with friends around a variety of topics — not, typically, to talk to brands. Unless it’s being “introduced” by a friend, in order to engage with consumers, brands have to interject themselves and disrupt the conversation. That sounds like what a TV commercial does, and it’s something consumers may ultimately resent. Or ignore.

That’s not to say consumers don’t want to talk to brands online. They do. According to the 2009 Cone Consumer New Media Study, 89 percent of new media users believe companies should be interacting with consumers via social media. And a recently released Razorfish Study said 40 percent of U.S. internet users had actually friended a brand on Facebook or MySpace. But posting updates to a fan page every few days lacks any built-in value for consumers and certainly does not qualify as an effective social media program.

There’s also relevance
Most people would agree that it’s a critical factor when they decide to put out a welcome mat for marketer messages. Finding relevance in the ocean that is Facebook can be tough — in fact, lack of relevance is a choice on Facebook’s survey of reasons why users might not like an ad they see on Facebook.

Affinity-based social networks, on the other hand, are built around a common interest. They bring together like-minded individuals who want to connect on a particular topic. That oozes relevance. And that’s a perfect opportunity for brands.

For example, Meredith Corporation has begun creating affinity-based social networks as a way for brands to build strong relationships through social conversations. They took their expertise from Better Homes and Gardens magazine and to create — a social network for cooks. It’s a place built entirely around recipes and people sharing them; sharing their ideas and passions for food. That’s certainly a relevant place for food brands to engage and add value to the conversation.

Additionally, Gannett has created a national network of 80 local communities, all specifically tailored for moms. Through, moms can connect, form groups, plan events, and share advice, while marketers have new opportunities to enter the conversation, create relationships, and gain valuable insights into what moms want and need.

As these examples illustrate, a successful social strategy needs to be tailored to your specific brand. So, before creating or implementing any strategy, you should ask yourself how these questions align with your social program.

Does the customer I’m targeting really want to talk to me through this channel?
Consumers are bombarded with advertising and marketing throughout their online experiences. Do you really want to be just another annoying brand? Make sure you are reaching your target audience through a channel where they are willing and interested in speaking with your brand.

What is at the center of this conversation? Is it my brand? Because it should be.
Don’t try to jump on the bandwagon of another conversation. The whole goal of social marketing is to engage with and better understand your audience. Popping in and out of random conversations isn’t going to help you gain intelligence into what your advocates are saying.

Can I replicate my effort in other places or am I locking into one specific network? Or can the strategy I’ve come up with scale across multiple platforms?
New media is ever changing. Don’t pigeonhole yourself by sticking to one thing. Explore different options, but make sure you always link back to one common hub.

Does the consumer have the option to opt-in/opt-out of the conversation?
Consumers want choices. Giving a consumer the opportunity to disengage and reengage in the conversation when they want will offer a sense of control that is sometimes difficult to find in a social world.

Am I able to gather insights and analytics from my conversations and connections?
The more you can learn about the people you’re talking to, the better. Insights into who your fans are, how they are connected and what they want to talk about will point you toward how to be most relevant. Those insights will drive not just your messaging with them, but can impact your entire marketing and product delivery.

How is this conversation being regulated? Who has control?
Ultimately, when centering a social marketing program on Facebook, you are putting your fate in someone else’s hands. Facebook is constantly changing and growing in a quickly evolving market. Consider if it will continue to align with your objectives. And if it doesn’t, who owns the data and insight that you’ve created by collecting fans?

Facebook has more than three hundred million users. Certainly it has a place in online brand marketing. But it should not be the center of your brand’s marketing.

To read the full article on, click here

Webinar Invite: The Social Hub – A Comprehensive Social Media Strategy

Posted by Katie Morse on December 1st, 2009

If you’re looking for ways to easily manage, improve, and scale your current social media strategy (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), then you should attend this upcoming Webinar.

The Social Hub: A Comprehensive Social Media Strategy

Date: Thursday, December 10th, 2009
Time: 2:00 PM ET

Engaging with your customers through social networks is becoming a vital part in any companies’ brand marketing strategy. However, there are high demands of time and resources, plus difficulties measuring return on investment. You’ll learn how to create a Social Hub to improve efficiencies in your social marketing and you will find out answers to the following questions:

  • How can you scale your social media strategies across the Internet?
  • How do you manage multiple social marketing efforts?
  • How do you put user generated content to work for you?
  • How do you build and leverage advocates?

Register today because seating is limited!

Quick and easy registration:

  1. Complete the online registration form.
  2. Check your email Inbox for the instructions to login to the webinar.

We’ll see you there!

What Can YOUR Community Do?

Posted by Katie Morse on November 5th, 2009

55% Feel as strongly about their online communities as they do about their real-world communities*

55 percent. That’s nothing to joke about, and it resonates with us, as we’re sure it does with many others in our space.  Our Founder and CEO, Sang Kim, saw the power and passion created by communities when he founded MomJunction, just as our employees and partners do today.

Online communities aren’t just websites which aggregate nameless and faceless people around common interests.  They’re virtual meeting points, virtual mixers, virtual support groups and virtual watercoolers.  What’s interesting, though, is when the boundaries between “virtual” and “the real world” get broken down.

56% of community participants meet their digital counterparts in the real world, and as stated above, 55% feel as strongly about their online communities as they do about the ones they belong to “in the real world”.

We regularly see members of our communities talking about how much they love the interactions, love the people, and love the online space they’ve created.

We provide the platform, but it’s the users that make the community come alive.

Often times, those users band together to throw events, put on a charity fundraiser, support a fellow member in a time of crisis, or even promote members of the community in the real world.

It’s not just online anymore!

When we ran across this video from Ophrah’s 24th Season launch, we immediately thought about how the people in that crowd are much like our community members.  All very different, all with their own unique likes and dislikes, but all coming together to participate in something that has the potential to be something greater than the sum total of the parts. Not to mention, it’s a really cool effect.

What can YOUR community come together to achieve?

*Source: e-Marketer; USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future, “The 2008 Digital Future Project-Year Seven”

OMMA Global – Panel Review

Posted by Katie Morse on September 25th, 2009

Our CEO, Sang Kim, recently spoke on a panel entitled: “Joining the Party: Publishers Can Play and Prosper in the Social Media Sandbox” at OMMA Social.

Panel Details

In 2009, social networks like Twitter and Facebook evolved from “brand extensions” and “outreach” for major media into established publisher outposts that can drive traffic, user interaction, and now even ad revenues. But what best practices have emerged for managing these new syndication and relationship engines? This panel will look at issues including who mans the feed, who creates policies for maintaining voice and editorial consistency, and whether social nets are seen as an editorial operation or a way to market media brands. Lastly, this panel will give insight into whether social networks offer traditional content providers a new way of thinking about their own content and relationship to their audience. Last year, publishers scrambled to “plug into” the nets. This year they have to harness the energy.


Andrea Harrison, Strategy Director, Razorfish


Karl Lavin, Managing Editor, Forbes

Joe Pircilini, VP of Sales, seekingalpha

Sang Kim, Founder and CEO, Ripple6

Alan Levy, Founder & CEO, BlogTalkRadio

The panel focused on how publishers can use social tools to enhance their business objectives and what best practices have emerged through publisher activity so far.

The video of the “advice” question is below (5:30 in length), and some quotable excerpts are contained below.

“Social media a year and a half ago was a curse word. Now everyone’s embracing it” – Joe Porcilini, seekingalpha

“Within 15 minutes the critics were our marketers.”– Karl Lavin, Forbes

“Give the users a voice” – Sang Kim, Ripple6

“You have to add value to the user. That’s why they’re going to come back to your site” – Alan Levy, BlogTalkRadio

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Retail Shopping Communities Attract Shoppers, Influence Purchasing, and Retain Consumers

Posted by Katie Morse on September 9th, 2009

New Research: 83 percent of online shoppers express interest in sharing information about their purchases with people they know

NEW YORK – September 9, 2009 – As social networks proliferate and consumers report spending more of their time online, e-commerce is ripe to weave community into the customer experience. On average, two-thirds of consumers spend at least one hour per week social networking, with almost half spending three hours or more on the sites. In August 2009, the e-tailing group and Ripple6, a leading provider of social media services to e-tailers, brand marketers and publishers, launched the Social Commerce: Conversations Among Consumers survey to 1,000 frequent online shoppers.

For more information on this survey, visit

“The research objective was to explore consumer perceptions regarding social media relative to connecting customers to one another, to merchants, and the subsequent influence on purchasing,” explains Lauren Freedman, president of the e-tailing group. “We are pleased to report that our findings bode well for the online merchant community.”

The survey results confirm that consumers are social with 83 percent of online shoppers very or somewhat interested in sharing information about their purchases with people they know. In addition, 41 percent would be inclined to join and be active participants in online communities that share information about their favorite products.

Sharing/Community influences purchasing
This information sharing impacts commerce as pre-purchase opinions from others influence buying decisions for 74 percent of online shoppers. Additionally, 73 percent agreed that “people like me” are the most trusted sources when making a shopping purchase. In fact, product recommendations from friends are almost twice as valuable as product recommendations from merchants (46 percent versus 24 percent) for their ability to influence purchases.

“This research confirms that most of the things consumers find valuable are those delivered by community,” concludes Sang Kim        , CEO of Ripple6. “Our social platform applied to commerce fosters strong connections with consumers to deliver more robust shopping experiences that generate incremental online sales and keep valued customers returning more frequently.”

Consumers want to connect via community
The next logical step in this social commerce evolution is to create online communities that focus on connecting shoppers directly with others who have purchased similar products. Survey results indicate that two out of three consumers would be likely to join such a community if invited via email. The primary reason for wanting to be part of such a retail community is sharing information to help make smarter buying decisions. Equally as important is the participant’s desire to reach out and help others by recommending products and sharing their expertise.

Merchants benefit from social commerce
These shopping-focused communities can noticeably increase Average Order Value (AOV) and aid customer retention. Sixty seven percent of users are more likely to purchase more based on recommendations from people in a community in which they participate and 62 percent are more likely to frequent a retailer they have shopped before if they can be part of a community within that site.

About the e-tailing group

The e-tailing group, inc. serves as the multi-channel merchant’s eye, bringing a merchant’s sensibility to evolving the multi-channel shopping experience. A Chicago-based consultancy, they provide practical strategic perspectives and actionable merchandising solutions to merchants selling online as well as to enabling technology firms. For more background about this research study or additional information on the e-tailing group, inc. please contact Lauren Freedman at or visit the e-tailing group website

About Ripple6, Inc.

Ripple6™ helps marketers, publishers and e-tailers implement their business strategy through social media. The company provides an enterprise white label social media platform to create consumer engagements and relationships, enhance social marketing, generate consumer insights, and facilitate commerce and collaboration. It is easily customized to incorporate a brand’s look and feel for integration into an existing web site or to create an entirely new site. Ripple6, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), is based in New York and its list of clients and partners includes P&G, Meredith Corporation, and Unilever. For more information, go to

Media Contact:

Julie Nicholson

Weber Shandwick for Ripple6