Social Networking and the Future of Marketing: Find Your Niche
After reading countless blogs and articles regarding social networking’s impact on marketing and advertising, and as a young consumer who is all too familiar with the concept, it is impossible to ignore social networking as the future of marketing. It is an advertiser’s dream-come-true in the fact that there are endless opportunities to reach wide audiences at a cost of almost nothing, but the range and variation of sites that make up the world of social networking can be confusing and many are uncharted.
By now we consider anyone who hasn’t heard of Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube seriously detached, but these are not the only sites connecting people and coordinating ideas. There are services catering to specific genders, ethnicities, aptitudes, and interests that seem to be untapped by the business and marketing world.
A few examples:
Fotolog, a photo-blogging site, and Flickr, a photo sharing and networking site, both boast over 20,000,000 members who can upload and share their experiences and travels through photos and commentary.
Foursquare, a location-based mobile social network where members share places they have explored through their mobile phone, connects people and places, and works in conjunction with Flickr and Meetup.
You may have heard of StumbleUpon which is a great way to kill time by “stumbling” through websites that match your selected interests and rating the sites for other users with your shared interests.
Google Buzz, which gives you capabilities similar to YouTube, Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter all in one, is yet another way to share your interests, news, photos, videos, and opinions with groups private or public.
Yelp, Inc. gives its 31 million monthly visitors the ability to search, rate and review neighborhoods, locations and businesses, and works hand in hand with Facebook to personalize your experience. You can even upload the Yelp application to your smart phone and yelp about the fabulous (or not so fabulous) meal you are eating at that very moment.
Last.fm uses a music recommender system to recommend new music based on the tracks you upload and share with the rest of the last.fm community. It also lets you connect your last.fm profile to Twitter so you can constantly tweet your opinions on new tracks.
Along with these are social networking sites dedicated to blogging, non-profits, genealogy, environmentalism, and even the vampire craze. While some are strictly for fun and entertainment, others can reap huge benefits (or damages, if misused) to a company’s reputation and brand.
Yes, Facebook may have over 500,000,000 users and is in a social networking arena of its own, but other sites possess similar capabilities for connecting, sharing and marketing, and advertisers should not overlook their potential. It’s time to get comfortable with social networking and take advantage of the possibilities of this cheap, accessible marketing goldmine.
Determining how these sites may (or may not) be incorporated in brand promotion and development depends on the nature of the individual organization. But at a minimum, it is important for companies to be aware of what their audiences are saying and doing, and find ways to stay involved.
(Sarah E. Barrish, ND&P Intern)