Ads and Groups and Profiles – OH MY!

Throughout my exploration of new media, I can’t help but notice the growing presence of marketing on social networking sites. I love using Facebook and MySpace to keep in touch with friends and family. I never would have been the one to think that social networking websites like I mentioned would be the arena for marketing in this digital age.

Social networking websites have made a change in terms of a marketing professional trying to determine the best mix for an integrated marketing campaign. Before the digital age, there were very few options for marketers from which to choose. Generally, only innovative companies with a huge marketing budget were able to jump into this new ocean of opportunities. However, marketing online has become the hottest way to promote companies and products. The playing field is now (almost) level.

How can you decide which social network to use for your banner or display ads? There are a variety of different social networks to choose from; some of the most popular are MySpace, Facebook, and Bebo, but that does by any means include all of the options. There are social networks for athletes, bloggers, artists, photographers, mothers, investors, and just about any other way to identify people by their interests.

There are three popular ways to embrace social networking websites as a marketing tool.

Banner or Display Ads

These aren’t new to social networking websites as we’ve all seen them on just about every website we visit. They’re those pesky ads at the top, bottom or sides or a website encouraging you to visit another site.

Marketers are taking a variety of approaches in choosing the best social networks to advertise with. They’re asking questions like:

  1. Where does my target audience visit?
  2. Where are my competitors advertising?
  3. Does it make sense to advertise on this network based on my products?

Measurement of banner or display ads isn’t a fine science, yet. There have been a variety of ways in the past that have attempted to successfully measure the effectiveness of a banner or display ad. All of them have had faults, but each time a new way of calculating this is derived, it seems to get closer to measuring what marketers want to know. Right now, marketers have moved toward a post impression analysis. This trumps past methods of measurement because it looks at the conversions of people viewing the advertisement and then visiting the website within a time period.

Groups

Many companies have taken the route of creating groups and networks that users can join on social networking sites. Groups are almost like miniature social networking sites. On one hand, the creation of groups is barefaced advertising. On the other hand, it’s another way for companies to connect with their target audience and maybe even narrow their target audience into several niche audiences.

For example, a publishing company could have networks for writers, and individual groups for fans of different kinds of books they publish. This is viral marketing at its core and can be especially successful if companies can be innovative enough with their groups to get large numbers of people to join!

Groups need to be updated regularly with company information, offers for members of the group, and maybe tips or tricks associated with the group. This will keep users returning to the website and continuing their membership to your group!

It’s hard to determine a specific way to measure how effective groups are. But, apparently they are working for some companies because I’m always getting invited to join groups for a variety of companies.

Profiles

Some companies are swinging for the fences by creating profiles for their products or services on social networking websites. These profiles are not necessarily about selling things, but sharing knowledge with the target audience. Information can be shared instantaneously through profiles. A person associated with a profile can add a personal touch. Profiles can be a forum for “word of mouth” advertising on the World Wide Web. Profiles can also be an arena for answering questions about the company, service or product.

In order for profiles to be successful, they must be updated regularly so that the target audience wants to visit the profile on multiple occasions.

Measurement of the effectiveness of profiles is still in its infancy stage. I couldn’t find a lot of information about what the current practices are for measuring profiles’ effectiveness, but I would surely bet money on someone working on developing a way to measure profiles!

Findings with New Media

A report by the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) issued a report about new media. In the report, I found some key results that tied into my post.

First, the most popular social media marketing tools were evaluated. I thought it was important to point out that 56% of marketers have used social networks.


In terms of effectiveness, social networks slip into fourth places, but this is perceived effectiveness as it is difficult or impossible (right now) to measure effectiveness in new media.



Finally, some demographic information should be reviewed.  I was surprised to see the effectiveness did not necessarily decrease as age increased.  Take a look at where the “over 65” divisions falls!



Well, I hope that you’ve found some of this to be interesting!

– Julie

References:

Gillin, Paul. (2008 April 1). Social Media Marketing Still Lacks Strong Metrics.

Journal of New Communications Research, Vol. II. Retrieved on November 2, 2008 from http://www.marketingvox.com/social-media-marketing-still-lacks-strong-metrics-037724/

Mosher, Barb.  (2007 October 11).  Social Networks as Marketing Tools: Advertising on Websites like Facebook or Myspace for Online Markets.  Suite 101.  Retrieved on November 2, 2008 from http://website-marketing.suite101.com/article/cfm/social_networks.

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November 2, 2008. Tags: , , , . IMC. Leave a comment.