Social networks a boon to marketers: Braunston

Facebook and its online ilk are nothing less than 'ready-made focus groups,' says today's new year's pundit: Carat Canada communications strategist Andrew Braunston.

Carat Canada communications strategist Andrew Braunston weighs in today as MiC‘s latest new year’s pundit. His view of Facebook and its online ilk is that they are ‘ready-made focus groups.’

MiC: What were some of the big trends in ’07?

‘Viral marketing, both online and off. The good word of the consumer is becoming increasingly important, and when subject to thousands of advertising messages every day, a trusted source is vital.’

MiC: What surprised you last year?

‘That last year’s much-talked-about ‘big shift’ towards digital media hasn’t really taken effect yet, or I certainly haven’t seen it. We’re still treading the waters in many cases, when digital should be paramount and the backbone for all marketing efforts.’

MiC: What happened in ’07 that you applaud?

‘That the offline and online world are finally coming together. There is much more scope for integration through interactive and mobile media, and many advertisers are now realizing the benefits.’

MiC: What happened that dismayed or worried you?

‘That people are now only taking pictures and making movies that will look good on Facebook or YouTube!’

MiC: What trends are you spying for ’08?

‘The right way for advertisers to interact with blogs and social media with an understanding of the potential ramifications. Social networks are ready-made focus groups and marketers can learn so much if they play it smart and honest.’

MiC: What do you see as the next big opportunity?

‘Interactive TV, and I mean really interactive TV, fully online and integrated. We’re really only one step away from TV-commerce. Then, combined with the knowledge and understanding of the content consumers are interacting with, and when and where, the opportunities for advertisers are endless.’

MiC: What do you see as the next big looming threat?

‘I guess from a marketing standpoint, the yet further fragmentation of the media landscape. It’s definitely not a six-channel choice anymore – more like 20-25 – and knowing when and where to play with the right message will be vital.’