Josh Rahn, a director of sales for Facebook, gave Web marketers some real-time ammunition in the battle to win attention from the corporate office.

“Every communication is a link,” Rahn said. “I just walked past the Coach store after the Coach presentation, and there was somebody taking a picture of somebody in front of the store. I guarantee you they were posting it.”

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To connect with consumers and encourage such links, Rahn advised firms to develop a strong sense of brand character online.

“You spent 50 to 100 years trying to figure out how to differentiate yourself in print, think about what your identity is online,” he said. “What makes you different than the brand next to you….Not just because you have a promotion in August, but where do you want to be in a year?”

With a clear online identity established, Rahn said brands can begin to really leverage social media. By way of example, he pointed to Levi’s, which, he said, recently threw “the Facebook kitchen sink” at its Web site. Among other functions, visitors who log on to the denim brand’s site through their Facebook accounts can now see their friends’ birthdays. Rahn said the function could spur gift sales and was a harbinger of things to come.

“In the next five years, you’re not going to go to Amazon and see the top five products for sale,” Rahn said. “You’re not going to see the top five songs at iTunes. You’re going to see the top five products of your friends. Think about what that means when you go to levis.com, and now you’re seeing — instead of seeing all the jeans that they’re selling — only the jeans that people like the most, and, most importantly, the jeans that your friends like the most. That fundamentally changes the way that you shop and consume content.”

And for those in the audience who still needed to get the rest of their company on board with their social media program, Rahn offered a one-word pitch.

“It’s about marketing,” he said. “It’s all about marketing. It’s not about social. It’s not about p.r.…It’s marketing. How do we get people to do whatever it takes to generate ROI?

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