In previous posts about advertising and marketing to the new social media world [here and here], I postulated that it is very difficult to assign a value to a stream of comments, a community of followers, or a conversation.
As always, Google seems (to think) it has the answer. BusinessWeek reports the vague concept of PageRank for the People [here]. Matt Rhodes agrees with this idea, and that advertising will become more and more focused on the community, rather than on the content.
Where the real value in this discussion lies is in targeting the advertising to be relevant to the conversation. It's not just matching the content. It's all about making the advertising relevant to the context.
Is the tone of the conversation about the brand positive or negative? I like to point out that I see my articles about Gutter Helmet creating a content-match in the AdSense logic that drives this product to be advertised. What is lost in the logic that AdSense uses is that I am describing my extremely negative experience with Gutter Helmet.
Shouldn't the competitors of Gutter Helmet be able to take advantage of this, based on the context of the article? Shouldn't Gutter Helmet be trying to respond to these negative posts by monitoring the conversation and actively trying to turn a bad customer experience into a positive long-term relationship?
Conversation and community marketing is a far more complex problem than a modified PageRank algorithm. It is not about the number of connections, or the level of engagement. In the end, it is about ensuring that advertisers can target their shrinking marketing dollars at the conversations that are most important.
Injecting irrelevant content into conversation is not the way to succeed in this new approach. Being an active participant in the conversation is the key.
In effect, the old model that is based on the many eyeballs for the lowest cost approach is failing. A BuzzLogic model that examines conversations and encourages firms to intelligently and actively engage in them is the one that will win.
The road to success is based on engagement, not eyeballs.