Social networking sites present an increasingly attractive way for companies to establish direct contact with a proportion of their customer base, market themselves, and build brand awareness. This post analyses four social networking sites – Facebook, Twitter, My Space, and LinkedIn – and discuss their potential as a marketing tool.
Facebook (FB) – With more than 500 million active users, and 550,000,000 estimated unique monthly visitors in May 2011. FB is the largest social networking site in the world. According to statistics released by the company, half of its active users log in on any given day, spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook and connect to 80 community pages, groups and events.
FB also caters to a range of demographics including 18-24, and over 55, indicating the potential to use FB as a marketing tool. Companies or fans can create a product or brand specific page, and users can sign-up with the click of a button. Some of the elements that can be integrated on the page include engaging fans/members using regular updates and polls, posting pictures, designing special applications, featuring new product/brand and receiving feedback, running contests and giving out coupons, answering questions via the discussion forum, and by posting pictures and videos. FB users can also send each other gifts featuring a company’s product and/or brand prominently on their own page and these shows up in their status updates. Given the diversity of applications, there are few barriers for companies to leverage the site irrespective of industry. The key is to keep the fan base interested and involved, with continued activity on the profile, ensure a distinct, coherent, and consistent message, and not force the conversation in any one direction.
My perspective: Social networks provide companies with an interactive forum and depending on the marketing strategy, a host of social networking sites can be used to spread the company’s message. It is good practice to have a consistent message, and link various sites to the company’s home page and among each other to direct fans/users to content. Establishing guidelines is another very important task, and employees assigned to the task need to approach aspects such as posting comments, and links in a consistent manner.