Social Network Marketing
Social Network Marketing
In the modern world, there have arisen various forms of social networks. These include blogs, online social communicating sites such as Twitter and Facebook, and others. The internet has provided businesses with a different way of doing business as well as a larger audience and therefore a larger market share. Social network marketing mainly encompasses awareness and communication. It provides a way for the businesses to communicate with their clients and gives the client an opportunity to send feedback to the business. This feedback can be used by the organizations to improve their products further.
There are certain advantages to be derived from this form of interaction. Social network marketing is easily available and accessible. It is not expensive as compared to other forms of marketing and it provides a way for organizations to talk to their intended market. The organization is also able to give reliable information about its activities and its products or services, and this minimizes the dispersal of wrong information since customers have a reliable source that they can depend on. Viral marketing has more influence than ordinary social networks (Gupta, 2009).Viral marketing uses social networks that are already in operation to do marketing. It is also called buzz or word of mouth/mouse because it makes use of people to spread the word around among their friends who will in turn talk of the product to others.
It is effective and has been used by several companies and different organizations. Viral marketing takes various forms such as video clips. Second life is a virtual world that one can access through the internet. Social network marketing can be used by both big and small companies that may have already established themselves in the market or may be just starting out. Companies such as Ford Motor and Mercedes-Benz have entered the virtual world. In 2009, ford launched the ford fiesta movement through online social marketing and viral marketing. As with all other marketing promotions, it is important to consider the type of market that one is targeting. Viral marketing may appeal to a class of people who use most of their time on the internet.
Ford was targeting a young generation of people and they knew the best way to capture their interest. They used Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and MySpace to launch their campaign. Mercedes Benz also used social networking as a way of advertising. They found that people could share comments about the car and recommend it to others. Companies who use viral communication do so fully knowing that people an always change their mind about their products. Ford was introducing a new product to the market one, which people were not, accustomed. They knew that their agents could have negative opinions about the ford fiesta but it is a risk that they were willing to take. In overall, the ford fiesta campaign was a success (McCracken, 2010).
The company had many leads, most of which eventually led to actual sales. The fact they did not use the traditional advertising, which could have cost them a lot of money but instead opted for social networking saved them a lot of money. This was an advantage to them since they were not financially stable at that time. This form of campaign could benefit ford in a major way though it would not be advisable to use the same tactics that they used before. They would not for instance need to spend such a long time having the agents on the road. Due to the success of the fiesta, it would be easier for them to campaign for their upcoming brands. The older brands would not be so hard to sell after this.
The fiesta has already proved a success story for ford not only in America but in Europe as well. The company can move into the next year with the social networking marketing. The idea behind successful network marketing is to diversify the content. One way of doing this would be coming up with a different model, which would target a different age group. The fiesta targeted a relatively young audience. The next time they could target an audience in their thirties and forties or even those in the middle age. The change in age would also mean that they would have to change the challenges they had given their agents to incorporate something to please the older age group.
A way that the company can get the leads that they received during the campaign to translate into sales would be to offer a discount to all those who had shown an interest in buying the car. This discount should have a limited period so that the customers can be compelled to buy the car quickly. Apart from offering a discount, they could also offer some other incentive such as free service for the first two months. According to the many leads that the company received, other people would be interested in buying the car. The company should therefore make an effort to tap into all the states.
Another form of social network marketing is second life. Developed by Linden Lab, a person can create a three-dimensional model of him or herself and use it in computer games. This is called an avatar and the users are known as residents. There has been an increase in the number of residents and the number of hours that the residents spend in world since it first began in 2003. Either the residents communicate by chatting locally or through instant messaging; second life has its own currency. This currency is used for everyday activities just like in the real world. This currency is actually bought using real money such as the US dollars. Although many people do not make real money in second life those who do make a tidy sum out of it (Dubner, 2007).
Companies using second life are able to form meetings for their employees and hold events for their respective clients. This does not happen in reality but virtually. A company can do all the things that it normally would only it does that in a virtual world. People who have opted to take this route as a way of marketing have had to deal with interruptions in their work, as there have been frequent changes in the second life term of services. Some of the businesses, which have also been featured, previously in second life, have also been banned or their work deleted. This has totally altered the types of businesses that are there. Second life cannot be relied on for marketing purposes. One user can create many accounts and thus making one think that there are many people in second life (Mars, 2010).
The difficulties mentioned above should also be considered before a person makes a decision that he or she wants to join second life. The interruptions in terms of policy and the prohibition of some of the content brings in an interference in the company and this means that the customers cannot totally depend on it to provide the much needed information about the company. Besides these issues, there are also technical difficulties to deal with. There have been times when crucial data has disappeared. Linden Lab does not offer much help on how to recover this data in time. This is unfortunate because clients who have paid for space expect service from them and they expect their message to be delivered in time to their intended audience.
There are also issues that are related to security. Any business that chooses to advertise and market itself using this manner should be careful with the information it chooses to publicize. Anybody with technological knowledge has the capability of hacking into the system and retrieving very important and confidential data. In addition to that, companies ought to have a keen eye on their employees who use second life. Create a virtual world can take much time and someone may actually do this while they are working. This results into time wastage by the particular employee. Care should therefore be taken that those who are concerned with the marketing do not waste all the business time there at the expense of other business responsibilities (Lewis, 2007).
In the past, people saw mainstream media of television and radio as the best way of marketing through advertising. However, with the coming of the internet things have taken a turn around. The internet has provided a larger market and this has increased business sales. Many forms of marketing through the internet have come up. Though this provides the business with a ready market, much care should be taken when choosing the best marketing tool for an organization or company. Not every form is profitable and in the end, it may not be worth the risk. Mercedes Benz would not have gone far with the second life marketing. Second life was not the right form of marketing for the type of class that they were targeting. Not everyone has a preference to video games.
Most people see second life as a form of game and not all have the time to play. Taking a closer look, second life may not be a game. It provides a way for people to let out their creative minds and create things, which may be impossible to do in real life. It is therefore suitable for the young people who have the time to experiment with various designs and concepts, which they can later present to their seniors at the work place. If both teams work together, something useful can be achieved. This can be the way forward for Mercedes Benz. Though they achieved some positive results when they first started, various factors could have triggered this. The campaign was first launched in December during the festive season. This is a time when most people are willing to spend and they are not too careful about how they do it. Second life is important in the way of creating awareness. It is useful for those businesses, which target the young people in their twenties and thirties. There is a future in second life but it is not for everybody.
Dubner, J. S. (2007). Philip Rosedale answers your second life questions. The New York Times.
Gupta, S., & Gilbert, J. S. (2009). Social network marketing: what works? Retrieved 28 May, 2010 from http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6187.html
Lewis, J. (2007). Second life: marketing fool’s gold? Retrieved 28 May, 2010 from http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2007/04/03/second-life-marketing-fool-s-gold
Mars, K. (2010). Why a second life? Retrieved 28 May, 2010 from http://www.theguildnetwork.com/tgn/SecondLife.aspx
McCracken, G. (2010). How ford got social marketing right. Retrieved 28 May, 2010 from http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2010/01/ford_recently_wrapped_the_firs.html