Home  › Marketing › Strategies

Do You Remember Friendster?

  |  July 21, 2014   |  Comments

Marketers need to plan against a human need instead of planning against a fleeting platform. They must build their strategies on human behavior and plan for what's possible instead of just reacting to what's in front of them.

When I was starting out in digital marketing, Friendster was the social network of the time. With exponential growth rates and a new format for interaction, it was the buzz of the industry. Now go to Friendster.com. Take a minute. Do it. It's a little different from what we remember from yesteryears. The business model has obviously changed. Friendster is more focused on casual/social gaming, having clearly stepped away from the social network of the past.

Change continues to happen around us, yet we as developers, marketers, and digital practitioners are wed to current models. The truth, however, remains that the word "current" is one of the most fleeting and transient terms of today. What will remain "current" will only do so for a short period of time. Technology lifecycles change so quickly that it's often hard for us to remember what was common just a few years ago.

One thing I do remember: A few years ago people were obsessed with Second Life. It was a platform that allowed consumers to create and customize the world of an online avatar. Even Dwight from The Office had an avatar, Dwight Shelford. American Apparel built a Second Life store. Intel had a massive Second Life command center. We as marketers reacted to the current platform of the day and built on top of it without any clear rationale. To this day, I still don't understand the return on investment (ROI) of building on Second Life (other than the potential PR value). Yet we did it - we entered the fray because that was what was common. That was the platform of the day.

Life and the way we interact with technology in our lives can change overnight. TV, radio, and traditional media outlets took years, often decades, to receive significant audience or reader traction. Facebook took only nine months. The human capacity to flourish has never before encountered the amount of acceleration that we see today. Yet it is conditioned in human interactions to only react to what's "current." Human nature tends toward tunnel vision. We react to current conditions because that is all we know.

So what do we do in this world of constant change?

Within this sea of change, there is a constant force. Though platforms change and modes of interaction iterate, themes around human behavior and sentiment shift at a slower rate. People will always aim to find love, we will seek unbiased information, we will yearn for community and create stages for self-expression. The platforms in which we perform these functions may shift, the speeds at which we deliver this information may shift, but the basic human need is not shifting at the rates dictated by Moore's Law.

When engaging, we need to look at the root of our digital strategy. Are we planning against a fleeting platform or are we planning against the human need? Many of the brands I interact with every day start their planning process against platforms: What is our plan for Twitter strategy? What is our Facebook strategy? What is our app strategy for Apple? What we should be doing is planning against need states. The questions should be: What is our plan for helping consumers find the information they are looking for? How are we helping people build interpersonal relationships around our brands?

Planning around need-states and not platforms seems simple and obvious, yet very few brands actually do it because they are so focused on the current means and not the reason. If more brands planned around need states it would shift focus from current condition. It would force brands to explore new mediums of interaction. Brands should experiment with how human behavior and sentiment may be expressed in the future.

What we must come to terms with moving forward is the practice of predicting and planning against needs not platforms - more so now than ever. We need to build on behavior and use this knowledge to plan for what's possible vs. constantly reacting to what is directly in front of us.

Image via Shutterstock.

ClickZ Live Toronto On the heels of a fantastic event in New York City, ClickZ Live is taking the fun and learning to Toronto, June 23-25. With over 15 years' experience delivering industry-leading events, ClickZ Live offers an action-packed, educationally-focused agenda covering all aspects of digital marketing. Register today!

ClickZ Live San Francisco Want to learn more? Join us at ClickZ Live San Francisco, Aug 10-12!
Educating marketers for over 15 years, ClickZ Live brings together industry thought leaders from the largest brands and agencies to deliver the most advanced, educational digital marketing agenda. Register today and save $500!


Ian Chee

Ian Chee is the chief strategy officer at digital agency, MRY. A veteran digital marketer and strategist, Chee leads MRY's strategy team and oversees all planning and strategic output across the U.S. offices. He has nearly 15 years of experience in digital strategy, most recently leading planning across all accounts at AKQA NYC, including clients such as Chase, Kraft, and Google. Before joining AKQA, Chee led global strategy for Delta, Samsung, American Express, and the Hartford at Digitas as the agency's vice president and director of account planning. In his current role, Chee contributes strategic insight to MRY's portfolio of clients such as J&J, Visa, and Adobe.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Marketing newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!



Featured White Papers

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce
This Magic Quadrant examines leading digital commerce platforms that enable organizations to build digital commerce sites. These commerce platforms facilitate purchasing transactions over the Web, and support the creation and continuing development of an online relationship with a consumer.

Paid Search in the Mobile Era

Paid Search in the Mobile Era
Google reports that paid search ads are currently driving 40+ million calls per month. Cost per click is increasing, paid search budgets are growing, and mobile continues to dominate. It's time to revamp old search strategies, reimagine stale best practices, and add new layers data to your analytics.




    • GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator
      GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator (British Consulate-General, New York) - New YorkThe GREAT Britain Campaign is seeking an energetic and creative...
    • Paid Search Senior Account Manager
      Paid Search Senior Account Manager (Hanapin Marketing) - BloomingtonHanapin Marketing is hiring a strategic Paid Search Senior Account Manager...
    • Paid Search Account Manager
      Paid Search Account Manager (Hanapin Marketing) - BloomingtonHanapin Marketing is hiring an experienced Paid Search Account Manager to...