This is how to do online social marketing…

By Steve Outing

“Social marketing” (aka, “conversational marketing”) online means engaging in public conversations with consumers/customers, and responding to questions — and problems. On, where we’ve done a number of product giveaway promotions with Joby for its Gorillapod bendable camera tripod, Joby had a chance to demonstrate the proper technique — and aced the test.

Here’s what happened: We’d given away a bunch of Gorillapods as prizes for the site’s “Post of the Week” contest. Recipients had posted a bunch of complimentary comments and reviews of the gadgets. But after having the tripod for a few months, user Woodchuck07’s Gorillapod broke (that’s him in the photo before it got busted) — and he posted a note about it to the site.

I made sure Joby knew about this, and then Joby’s Joel Melamed posted a note on the comment thread offering to replace Woodchuck’s broken tripod with a new one. Melamed also offered an explanation of why some people occasionally have problems (putting a large camera on the small model of the Gorillapod).

I thought this was a brilliant example of a new kind of rapid-response online marketing that increasingly is required of companies these days. People are talking about your company online, and you need to keep tabs on those conversations. When a problem like this pops up, company representatives can step in in an appropriate manner and either explain themselves or rectify the problem.

If Melamed hadn’t stepped in, some damage could have been done to the product’s reputation.

The lesson should be obvious to product and brand companies: Keep tabs on online conversations so you can respond when it makes sense. Sadly, few companies have figured out how important this is. Bravo, Joby!

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!