>Business: So you have social network friends and followers, now what?

>It’s no secret the social networking frenzy is touching every industry on the planet.  Companies are striving to get their social pages up and networks built.  Books, conversations and blogs all showcasing how to master the art of getting noticed.

For me, the social networking free-for-all model felt like the gold rush.   All these people and companies gathering up their brands and years of PR, throwing it in the back of a wagon marked “Facebook or Bust.”  The whole building a relationship with the consumer concept makes perfect sense, but at what point can we predict return?  What are these people in their covered wagons going to do once they get to the gold country of friendship land?  More importantly, what the hell are they doing with all those friends?  It’s like sitting on a pile of gold with no freaking idea what to do with it.  That prompted me to step down from the cloud and question the tactics.

To be clear, let’s agree that a marketing message within social networking environments is kinda like funky odor.  Nobody wants to deal with it and we all try to get away from it as fast and gracefully as we can.   If I was about to test my theories about monetizing a marketing message within the social networks, I needed to approach it from a different perspective.  I call it the Villa Blanca experience.

Six months ago I moved to west LA and decided to go spend a day putzing around Beverly Hills.  While walking down Brighton Way I came across the glorious outdoor dining area of the Villa Blanca restaurant.   The vision was right out of a movie.  Beautiful chic people all enjoying their LA lifestyles.  I was certain that getting a table there was going to be close to impossible.  Not so.  I was invited to have a business lunch there with a client, one week later.  Food was great, amazing ambiance but the novelty of it was gone; that is, until it was featured on the Housewives of Beverly Hills.

Lisa Vanderpump, the owner of the Villa Blanca stars in the show and many scenes are shot from within the restaurant.  I was once again fascinated, but for an entirely different reason.  The restaurant might have glam and fame, but we all know how quickly the novelty of that lasts.  Lisa, however,  had became somewhat a bit of an inspiration to me.  She has a son my son’s age, a zest for life and a mad love affair with her dog Giggie.  I think she’s a total rock star and so the five minute fascination I had once had with the Villa Blanca, just turned into a personal connection.  I’ll now go there any chance I get.

So coming back to my social experimentation.  I realized that the glam and celebrity value hooked me, but what keeps me as a loyal patron of the Villa Blanca is my adoration for Lisa.  How did that happen?  Simple:  the reality show portrayed her as her genuine and human self. I freaking signed up, bought the tee-shirt and a lifetime subscription to the Vanderpumps.  Made me think, “huh, maybe all social marketing should work this way.” 

So I did the most natural thing in the world, asked my husband for money and for him to build a website for me (it pays to marry a nerd girls).  But this wasn’t just any website, nooo, this was going to be a place where the “hook” was Hollywood, but the keep was in the people.  I wanted the interaction with the brands, businesses and the story to be fun, but above all REAL.  I call the site Skwikee and it’s the premier social reality game, featuring the people of LA. 

We’ll cover the hot clothing stores, restaurants and night clubs, but more importantly, we’ll connect with the people that make LA so magical.  My theory is players will be hooked by the Hollywood glam, but want to stay connected to the people here and in effect their products and businesses.  If it works, I dare say I’ll become the Madam of Social Reality Advertising. Skwikee premiers in January of 2011, wish me results and above all, answers!

Feel free to share your thoughts here or on the Skwikee Facebook page!

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