Social Networking Marketing Problems - Users want fun!
Using a social networking tool for marketing is a fairly difficult task. For example, submitting press releases on an unsuitable site can result in an accusation of Spamming. Some tools like Digg have a user controlled Spam protection facility, quite simply, if a user finds a story useful they can click the "Digg" button to recommend it, and if they see it as Spam they can "Bury" the story. So by posting something of little value to users you are simply wasting your time. Most Social Networking sites offer a Spam protection facility, Youtube has a "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" button to allow users to feedback to good/bad video comments and a "spam" button to hide spam comments.
When active on sites like Youtube, Facebook and Myspace, users are not concerned with purchasing products or services they are using these sites for fun! Users on these sites are fairly competent Internet users and can see a sales pitch from a mile off. They are using these sites to watch videos, listen to music or chat to friends and entertain themselves. This makes selling to them directly fairly difficult. Instead focus on gaining trust from users and use Social Networking sites to build relationships with users. I have listed a few simple examples:
-A TV show has its own Youtube account to display teasers for upcoming programmes and selected previous episodes.
-A band can use Youtube to display live gig videos and let users know when their next gig is.
-Press release about how a small office reduces its carbon footprint posted on Digg.
Certain products or services attract attention naturally. For example, Apple Macs have a fanbase (and many groups on Facebook) but PCs are seen in a different light (more functional /less of an aspirational or fashionable choice).
-Reggae Reggae Sauce has its own Facebook group set up by fans. (An official group could offer recipe advice and allow users to swap recipes) A Youtube account could display videos of how to cook the recipe too.
Always remember that any content needs to fit with the users requirement of "fun". So make sure content is either informative, educational, entertaining or suprising (steer clear of offensive material). At the same time, try to make sure whatever is done fits with the business / product.
The Facebook API - Caution! Requires original thinking!
The Facebook API (Application Programming Interface) allows a programmer to produce an application that runs on Facebook. They usually offer advanced functionality or new features to entice Facebook users to add them to their profile. Popular Applications (Apps) include:
- A Texas Hold'em Poker App that allows users to play Poker against one another.
- Retro Games allows users to play old computer games like Pac Man.
I have brainstormed Facebook Applications for clients in the past and found inventing an App to engage and entertain users (and generate benefit for the business) very difficult!
The best revenue generating App I have seen is the PayPal App. This allows your friends to pay you back the tenner you lent them on a night out! You can also donate money to a charity or cause via this App. As PayPal make a percentage on transactions, this gives them access to a huge amount of users and a huge amount of transactions.
Facebook Social Ads - An easier way to market your product on Facebook?
I noticed recently that the ad platform on Facebook will look for keywords on my profile to determine what ads to display. (In the same way, Google's mail program Gmail will look at the content of a users private email and will display relevant ads accordingly). I altered my interests on Facebook to include the band "My Bloody Valentine" as one of my musical preferences. The next day I had an advert offering tickets to one of their gigs. At first it seemed odd that the advert would be so specific, but this represents an excellent advertising platform for both customer and business. This is probably the easiest way to market your service or product in a web 2.0 social networking environment.
By using the advertising platform instead of building your own App, you make use of the vast demographic on Facebook and you can target age, gender, location and interests and then statistically analyse the results and then optimise their efficiency. Most businesses will be able to get real results from this advertising platform.
Although this is not as original as producing a bespoke new App, it will generate a more reliable (and measurable) return without you having to re-invent the wheel!