Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Social Media changes marketing & usability

If you're planning on advertising on social networks, you've probably already heard ort read that CPM's are incredibly low. Indeed, if you read Alex Nesbitt of Digital Podcast's thoughts, he believes that Google AdWords can be 100 times more effective than adverting on social media sites.

The argument has been made frequently that tracking CPM's and building communities are two entirely different things. Search and content sites are better for quantitative marketing and communities provide better qualitative understanding, providing insight into product / service improvements (see my previous post on ROI of Social Media for more)

Having spent years working with large companies to build usable websites , I've been a fan of the work of Jesse James Garrett, one of the pioneers of web usability. He basically stated that the web browser provides two different functions:

1. A hypertext system (content & search, e.g. Google, BBC, etc.)
2. A software interface (application, e.g. Online Banking, etc.)

His original diagram explained the ' basic duality' and the ways to deal with the specification and development of these two paradigms, from Abstract to Concrete & Conception to Completion.

But is this the entire picture? Well I have a theory its not and that we're missing something here.
I think that social media (discussion forums, blogs, etc.) actually create a place between Mr Garrett's two purposes. They create a 'third space' that combines both the content of the hypertext system and the application functionality of the software interface. Its this third space that's confusing, because the interface isn't just one thing or the other:
Its not just about look & feel, its about elements & navigation. Its not just about getting instant gratification and clicking'next' to the following page, its about interaction and engagement whilst your on that page.
Perhaps we need a new diagram Mr Garrett?
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