Social Networks and Word of Mouth

Viral Marketing To Specific Market Segments

MySpace, Facebook, Second Life, YouTube, etc. These websites have rocketed to the top of the most visited website list in a very short time and continue to increase in popularity. The great advantage of social networks to marketing is their tendency to propagate information virally.

But social networks are not for everybody, and must be handled with care. The bulk of users on those websites are teens and young adults. And they are web savvy. Trying to take advantage of them with regular marketing techniques will not work, and may even backfire with a negative backlash.

Campaigns that tend to do have the following characteristics:

  • targeting the younger generation, typically 18 - 35 years old
  • related to entertainment, sports, community, events, causes
  • media intensive (primarily video and new media)
  • fun

To market effectively using social networks, you need to:

  • analyse your campaign and its applicability to this form of advertising
  • select the networks where success is most likely
  • target related user groups and forums
  • seed the viral propagation
  • develop widgets, gadgets, Facebook apps, etc.

Social networks are used as a marketing tool for many different purposes. Those marketing large companies use these sites to gain information on their target market, and how people feel about their products. They can also use these sites to gain information on their competition. Small businesses may also use these sites to promote their brand.

These networks allow thousands of people to network with each other, meeting new people that may benefit their business or services being offered. Networking with different people through these sites is an excellent way to create new contacts, and potentially create new customers or business associates.

The most valuable part of marketing using social networks is that it allows people to market their services to a large market at no cost. Thousands of people enter these sites daily. Therefore they are able reach a mass market free of charge.

The popular network Facebook offers a free classifieds section where people are able to post things such as job listings, items for sale, or services available. Companies of all sorts are able to place advertisements for their products or services, as well as post job opportunities. People are also able to market themselves by listing their skills and abilities for employers to view.

Another popular social network, MySpace, is widely used by its members as a way of promoting themselves. Many musicians or actors wishing to gain some free recognition will place videos and songs on their pages for others to view. This site also allows members to send their videos to other members, and gain more recognition and feedback.

One large benefit to marketing on social networks is the pass along factor. Users of these networks tend to pass along items that are of interest to them, or that they believe their friends will find interesting. Members are also able to pass along their own postings to other site members, whether they know them or not.

Social networks are also beneficial to companies who are wishing to create e-mail lists to send coupons or advertisements through the mail. Companies may post bulletins on websites encouraging people to sign up for their daily newsletters, etc. In doing this many companies are able to greatly increase their mailing lists.

Placing paid advertisements, such as banners, on these sites can also benefit a company greatly based on the amount of hits the sites receive each day. Thousands of members view these pages daily which means ads placed on these sites will reach a mass audience.

Marketers are also able to monitor social networking sites, to read up on how people are viewing their brands. These sites allow them to see what their competitors are doing, and how customers view the competition. Receiving this feedback from customers allows marketers to understand what the target market is looking for, what people like about their products or services, and what needs to be improved.

Social networks also allow marketers to gain information on their potential customers. By viewing user profiles, marketers are able to gather information regarding the demographics and psychographics of potential customers, making them better able to identify those that fit into their target market. This information can often be time consuming and costly. Having social networks to help them find this information is quite beneficial to marketers. Many of the social networking sites allow users to create groups regarding specific topics. This makes it much easier for marketers to find much of the information regarding their target market, and their competitors.

Social networks are a very valuable marketing tool. With the recent growth in popularity of many of the networking websites, marketers are better able to market their brands to a mass market without having to invest the time and money that they would by marketing through other means. These sites are beneficial to companies both big and small, and allow companies to market themselves in new and creative ways.


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