Friday, 27 June 2008

As with any saturated market, the next step for social networking is to go niche. There is an interesting article on this on the guardian:

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Social networks being used as a push medium by marketers

There has been a lot of hype surrounding social networking sites and their value to marketers. They were thought to revolutionise how brands interacted with their customers and increase engagement.

However, this theory relies firstly on brands being able to provide engaging content and a reason to not only take an initial interest in their brand but to interact with them on a regular basis to build some form of relationship. As I assume this was the initial thought to how marketers could use these networks; as a way of opening up two way dialogue with their customers and prospects.

But in order for this to happen brands surely need to encourage such communication and act on comments received by consumers or 'fans' of the brand as they are referred to as on facebook. At the minute users' comments either in independently formed groups or branded profiles go unacknowledged missing valuable opportunities to build rapport with them, reward them or at least make them feel valued.

Simply pushing out promotional information to them does not seem like a way of using the added benefits of these sites as an interactive media as opposed to an extension of their traditional campaign.

They should surely be using these sites to do something different, more risky, more personable and more on their audiences' level. Communicating as a 'friend'.

Though this inevitably brings up another set of issues; whether consumers are willing to accept brands as their friends or whether this is crossing the boundaries of the consumer/company relationship.

How much do consumers actually want to interact with brands anyway? Do they feel they have much to say or any motivation to say it. It is my view that they would be more willing to if the action had an incentive, either in terms of a monetary reward in the form of a discount or freebie or a more social form in keeping with the medium e.g. feeling valued by the brand or being able to use it as a type of social currency aka the cool factor of having a dialogue with a cool brand. this though would depend on the type of brand to a large extent.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Is there a future for facebook?

Robert Horler, the managing director of Diffiniti, a
Facebook-style intimate nudge claimed that Facebook's days are numbered: "It's true that people are currently flocking to Facebook, but if you asked me if, this time next
year, the favourite social networking site is going to be Facebook, then I'd say, probably not."
( Campaign 15-Jun-07).

Well he was wrong about the timing, being a year on and Facebook still going strong yet there are dublilations whether its popularity is showing signs of weakness. Many people complain about the number of application requests they receive, yet tehy are probably the same people who then send them once they have given in to the pressures of boredom and added them in desperate need of knowing which hollyoaks character they are most alike, seeking satisfaction when you discover your most like Louise, the cool fashionable one that all the lads fancy, well untill she did a stint in prson and turned abit psycho.

Then there's the whole loss of exclusivity. At one time facebook used to be a cool 'fratt house' style community designed solely for students where they felt a sense of belonging to something specially provided for them. However as high demand led to the allowance of non-student members it has led to some cringe worthy friend requests from mums, cousins, antie's older work collegues. No longer can you post drunken pictures up on your profile without worrying that current/future employers or even worse parents will find them.

On the plus side however it has allowed new social habits to emerge and more casual relationships to develop. No longer do people swap numbers when meeting someone new under the pretense that they'll stay in direct contact. Now simply 'have you got facebook?' is suffice to keep in touch.

So I suppose if we're willing to enter into dialogue with people we've only just met through behind the screen of social networking then it should be possible for brands to do the same. At the minute an communication recieved is via an impersonal new bulliten style comment on a group page. When will an organisation be brave enough to attempt to tackle one to one conversations? or in face book terms 'wall to wall'.

Is this even possible?