Are Social Media Companies Pillaging Equity from Big Brands?

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I can’t recall the  exact year, but I remember the first time I saw a URL in a commercial. I immediately thought, “Wow. This is the future.”

Over the past several months it seems every Fortune 500 company now brands their commercials with social media badges for Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. My question: who is getting the better end of that deal? The Big Brands who want consumers to know they can socialize with them on their favorite platform? Or, the new social media companies that need pre-existing communities of people to join their networks?

The Big Brands benefit in two major ways:

  1. they are sending people to communities which contain their messaging and communications; and,
  2. some of the older, staler brands are leeching off the sexy newness of the social media brands.

The Social Media newbies benefit in more critical ways:

  1. they siphon decades of brand equity from Fortune 500 companies;
  2. they get FREE advertising in expensive commercials; and,
  3. they have millions of users pushed to them for FREE.

Despite the obvious one-sided relationship, the true value to social media brands becomes evident when we imagine Google (GOOG) paying Coca-Cola to replace Twitter’s badge. Why not? Despite what most tech heads think, the overwhelming majority of people are fickle and will easily choose Buzz over Twitter if they are told it’s cooler or “the next big thing” — especially since it’s right there in Gmail.

If I were an executive at a company spending millions of marketing dollars, I’d pick up the phone and see which social media platforms would pay to have access to my customer base. To do otherwise is to get pillaged … right on TV.

Who do you think benefits from social media badges? Let us know in the comments below …

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