Scott M. Fulton, III of ReadWriteWeb.com (Aug. 31) told the story of how Salesforce.com's CEO Marc Benioff demonstrated his Facebook friendship with Coca-Cola at a recent conference: by using his iPhone's geolocation feature to connect with a Coca-Cola vending machine.
By holding his phone near the vending machine, he gets a loyalty point from Coca-Cola. By clicking to read more about the drinks in the vending machine, he gets another loyalty point.
Now, Coca-Cola can collect data. Seeing that Benioff purchased a Diet Coke at the vending machine, it updates this information on its Facebook page. "It starts to have a relationship with me," he says. "We can bring the offline world online. We can have more customer intimacy."
Benioff explains that Coca-Cola wants to make its products social, and making the products our friends.
Fulton also looks at how Disney and Toyota use social media like Facebook and Twitter to allow their products to develop "relationships" with customers.
To create a legitimate "social" experience, social media messages sent to customers are personalized and unique to every individual.
However, the problem with these humongous data gathering tools is they might become an echo chamber -- the information might be so targeted to every individual that it appears to be hunting, or worse yet: invasive.
The question remains: Is our society ready for the instant gratification and connectivity of products?
I personally believe that society is moving toward fan pages for anything consumers truly love. However, the ability to filter out unwanted noise is still a major challenge for marketers to overcome.
What are your thoughts on customer data gathering and social media marketing? (Please post your comments below.)