Saturday, January 3, 2009

Social Media Marketing 1, FriendFeed Department of Marketing

Introduction | FriendFeed | Twitter | Facebook

This post, and in fact this entire series, was originally prompted by a comment from Louis Gray in his post entitled "What FriendFeed Needs to Do To Grow and Keep New Users." I'm going to ignore Gray's suggestions (although I love the "Lite" idea) and concentrate on the question - Why did Gray have to write the post?

Given FriendFeed is relying largely on word of mouth from users, and press from bloggers and other tech publications to help raise awareness, and hasn't yet invested in a Marketing department or a more official outreach strategy, they can consider this abbreviated Marketing Requirements Document to be pro bono....

I glossed over this statement when I initially read it, but Dave Winer didn't:

Louis Gray offers some noble help to FriendFeed, filling in as the marketing department they don't have. Of course it would help if they did do some marketing....

Anyway, I think I know what they should do, and it isn't on Louis's list. But I wonder why I should give them the idea. This goes back to the point Arrington made a week ago, and then made again in his scolding of Scoble -- why are you working for these guys for free? It's a good question and one that bothers me, a lot.

But not everyone is in agreement that FriendFeed doesn't do any marketing. Just look at this July 2008 Valleywag post. The title says it all: "Calacanis, Scoble, Arrington pawns in FriendFeed's smart marketing campaign." The post then details the way in which FriendFeed used names of certain people to market the service:

As CenterNetwork's Allen Stern first pointed out, each time a new user signs up for FriendFeed, the site suggests the new user becomes friends with "Popular FriendFeeders." On the list: Bret Taylor, Fred Wilson, Scott Beale, Michael Arrington, Loic Le Meur, Jason Calacanis, Dave Winer and Leo Laporte — despite, as Stern notes, the fact that many of these "popular" users don't actually use FriendFeed very often. Why? We haven't asked anybody at FriendFeed because the answer is obvious: So that the whole bunch of easily ego-fluffed blog blowhards will blog about how amazing FriendFeed is, without bothering to figure out why, exactly, it seems to be growing so much faster for them than everybody else.

Let's face it - word of mouth is a wonderful policy. And it is cost-effective, as FriendFeed user alphaxion pointed out in a FriendFeed thread that I started based on Dave Winer's post:

@ontario so far they have used us to good effect for getting a base level of mindshare and in getting the word out without splurging loads of dollars on marketing.

In that same thread, FriendFeed user Mona N also offered a comment:

FriendFeed is still maturing, I support them in growing organically. Why can't the rest of the active members?

She offered this comment while comparing FriendFeed to Twitter, so perhaps it's time to turn to Twitter now.

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