An “Aha!” Difference Between Social and Direct Marketing

I grew up practicing direct marketing. It’s a “fire and forget” profession. Send a thousand packages, get a 5 percent to a half percent response. Immediate drop-off. We obsess about improving the list and the package, straining for quarter percent increases.
Joe Shumard and I launched the Internet Engagement Forum at the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce consciously using social marketing practices. We started with a list of 20, 15 came to the first meeting, including two who were not on the prospect list.
The next week more than half of the people in the meeting were communicating, as well as three further new people. In a week we are up five new contributing members…while the quality of the posted discussions is much more valuable than what I took notes on in the original meeting.
We believe the group can continue to grow and discover important ways to improve their businesses largely from social interaction.
That same week as that first AlexChamber meeting, I met Ghassan Haddad who leads the Facebook translations project, 380,000 volunteer translators working in over 300 languages, using computing technology to extend and leverage human efforts. What I saw Dr. Haddad practicing was a different type of management, building a networked environment where people are playing, at the same time doing large volumes of important work.
What is different?
It turns out that planning and control are less important than I was taught. People who communicate their own interests quickly show real value for the whole group. What seems to be most important is encouraging and facilitating velocity of communication. Useful is coming from that.

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