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Social Networking As An Effective Marketing Tool

Nov 7, 2007
Increasingly, advertising on social networking websites is being driven by marketing campaigns, as these are attracting a large number of page views. So, such campaigns are among the aspects of social networks that have attained maximum popularity. However, the marketing firms create profiles using fake user details, in order to effect product sales. Therefore, among the concerns of the social networks is one about marketing campaigns causing their systems to get clogged, as the number of fake users created by them goes up.

As social networking sites continue to attract people with similar interests, these tend to act as virtual beehives. The general perception tends to relate social networking with websites such as MySpace, Facebook and Orkut, besides associating groups with musical tastes, hobbies, high schools, etc. However, there are several social networking sites that are primarily accessed by professionals and bring together people with similar job responsibilities, work experience and educational qualifications. Now, that could imply that at least some of these networks are full of prospective clients or customers, for various businesses.

Decision-makers and leaders, in this day and age, tend to reach out to industry experts and peers through online networks, through which they can share their experience and knowledge in a way that can be mutually beneficial and help increase productivity, their own as well as that of others. For instance, a user who has a question to ask can quickly log on to such a network and receive a response immediately, from one or more of the members.

As the average Internet user tends to use social networks more and more often, it has become possible for companies to benefit from the creation of user-groups centered around their services and products and try and have existing as well as prospective clients or customers join these. Through such networks or groups, not only can the users ask questions from company representatives or from each other, but also invite those known to them to join. Information regarding new service or product offerings can also be posted there, in addition to making announcements in real time.

Information integrity should not be too difficult to ensure, since membership of such networks is only through invitation and the company can invite prospects, partners and customers or clients to join.

In order to maximize gains from the use of social networking as a marketing tool, companies may consider connecting assigned sales representatives directly with existing as well as prospective clients or customers, by using geographical regions as the basis for segmentation of the network. Specific services or products could also have groups in the vertical format set up around these. The degree of relevance of the group is likely to determine the rate of its growth.

The companies can also place text advertisements and banners on the networking websites.

Going by the rate of growth of social networks, in general, it is obvious that it is not a phenomenon that is likely to fade away in the near future. Those who viewed these as a waste of time are fast realizing their importance as a powerful medium of communication.

The potential of social networking online is huge, primarily because of the absence of the limits imposed by geographical boundaries. It can lead to the achievement of results that community events for business, held on a periodic basis, can never really lead to, at any point of time.

According to Wikipedia.org, a social network service focuses on the building and verifying of online social networks for communities of people who share interests and activities, or who are interested in exploring the interests and activities of others, and which necessitates the use of software.

As explained on Wikipedia, social networks connect people at low cost; this can be beneficial for entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to expand their contact base. These networks often act as a customer relationship management tool for companies selling products and services.

The ways for interaction that the social networking sites provide their users include discussion groups, chat, blogging, messaging, file sharing, email, voice chat and video, among others.

Most social networking sites, along with provision of means to connect with other members, have information regarding members categorized into directories, in addition to provision of systems for recommendation, on the basis of trust.
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