Social Networking -
The Next Great Marketing Medium?
There has been a virtual explosion of social networking sites in the
past couple of years. Even the big players like Google, Yahoo and MSN
are getting into it. With so much interest in how social networks work,
one begins to wonder if there is marketing potential within these social
Iíve been watching social networking for some time now. In fact Iím a
member of various social networking sites including MySpace and LinkedIn
just to name two. I joined partly because I wanted to see what they
were, but more importantly to see what impact social networking would
have on SEM in the coming years. Iíve been a member of various services
for some time and the reach these sites have is incredible.
For example, from my LinkedIn network of seven people I have an expanded
network of over 12,600 people. Imagine that - Iím only a click or two
away from close to 13,000 other people who share my similar interests
ranging from what I like to watch on TV to work I could provide to them.
Through my connections and their connections, Iím connected to people
ranging from the American Cancer Society, to Sun Microsystems to the
University of Texas to Google. But what marketing opportunities are
there for Social Networking? Well, letís look at MySpace.
MySpace is one of the top sites on the Web today. It racked up 9.4
billion page-views in August 2005 (more than Google) and new users are
signing up at a mind-boggling rate of 3.5 million a month.
MySpace is typical of where todayís 18-30 year old goes to manage their
digital life. It allows users to post photos of themselves and their
friends, create a blog, list their favorite bands, view and share
videos, suggest things to do and lists a set of people they consider
friends. It is on this ďFriends ListĒ where most of the opportunities
All thirty million plus users of MySpace have a friendís page that lists
people that person considers their friend. This is a list of people that
they are interested in talking to and about, as well as hearing from on
a regular basis. Once you add someone as your friend they can send you
emails, comment on your photos, read your blogs, as well as leave
messages that you can then share with others. This is an opportunity for
instant feedback about you.
The ability to add friends to your page is key for marketing to MySpace
users. According to Courtney Holt, head of new media and strategic
marketing at Interscope Records, ďThis generation is growing up without
having ever watched programmed media.Ē ďThey donít think in terms of the
album, and they donít think in terms of a TV schedule. They think in
terms of TiVo, P2P, AOL, and of course MySpace.Ē
You can see how this could grow. Letís say you create a MySpace account
to talk about your product or service. You blog about it and search for
others that may share your interests. You then invite them to be your
friend. When they become a friend you start your ďsoft sellĒ pitching
your product to them.
As they grow to appreciate it, they start blogging and sharing it. Soon
hundreds or even thousand of people are talking about you and your
product or service. Donít think this will work?
Let me give you some examples. There are many bands who have gotten
their start on MySpace. Simply by hosting some of their music online
and blogging about themselves they developed a following. Soon they had
record deals and contracts lined up.
Of course to use services like MySpace you need to have something this
target market needs. If you donít then you probably shouldnít put too
much effort into MySpace.
But that doesnít mean other social networking opportunities should be
overlooked. As I mentioned above, LinkedIn is more of a professional
introduction service. If your product or service fits here then by all
means explore it further.
And there are others as well. Services such as Yahoo!s MyWeb, Flickr,
del.icio.us and more. So if youíve ever wondered what other online
opportunities could be out there, consider social networking. It could
be the next great online marketing channel.
Rob Sullivan - SEO Specialist and Internet Marketing
Consultant. Any reproduction of this article needs to have an html link
Search Engine Optimization
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