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Brendan Hodgson of Hill & Knowlton and the Collective Conversation Blog posted this week on the subject of social web initiatives undertaken by Canadian Banks. (The only one that Brendan missed, although not a major FI, is Van City and the Change Everything site.)
All the efforts mentioned are quite interesting. By way of FI experimentation within social web, the doors may just open up a bit faster in terms of adoption across other industries. This is all good news as it will stimulate further growth in digital and, one would hope, increase the amount of shared learning in terms of what consumers find relevant and gravitate towards.
In a broader context outside these specific FI examples Brendan cites, the benchmark for social web success is (in my mind at least) the sustainability of communities and the level of interaction and involvement they build. Or, said another way, it is the degree to which they are engineered to foster a symbiotic relationship with their audience on behalf of the brand.
When designed to be mutually beneficial and transparent, corporate social web initiatives have a chance to exercise full potential for both brands and consumers that participate within them. That is the sweet spot.
There are many factors at play when developing a community and stimulating on-going dialog. In order to stand out, the starting point has to take into consideration ways to enable individuals to do something outside the typical interactions between citizen & brand. This means going beyond the everyday experience, being unique and compelling while also providing utility. Viewing the social web as an opportunity to simply broadcast a message will not likely produce anything worthwhile.
It will be interesting to watch determinations of success in this area. Undoubtedly, metrics will be compared and contrasted against traditional campaign measures. The problem is that campaigns typically have a beginning, middle and end. It is not apples-to-apples given that engagement and participation in a community happens over time. It may be selling the whole thing short by pegging what goes on as “campaigns” and treating initiatives as such. There are nuances that defy quantification as marketers have become accustom to and are comfortable with. It is a whole new paradigm.
As marketing methods and mediums evolve, optics, metrics, labels, and nomenclature needs to evolve in lockstep. This is what marketers of all stripes need to keep in mind as we move into a new age. All part of the marketing reformation.

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