Friday, 11 July 2008

How should brands talk to social network users?

For brands thinking of using social networks it is often talked about having to consider their audience as when planning any marketing communication activity. The buzz phrase of advice seems to be telling brands to 'talk to users in the right way'. Though no one has defined what this right way is. Granted it may be different for different segments or types of brands but I thought I would discuss the different possible ways of talking.

1. In a formal manner resembling a similar tone to their corporate website.
This seems to defeat the purpose of using these networks though they could use them to point people to their site via viral marketing though an advert would do the same thing.Appropriate for more formal services, to older less open users.

2. Informal, chatty style
Likely to create positive attitudes towards the brand and encourage dialogue.

3. Use it to promote competitions, discounts
Drives traffic to brands' websites and pages on social networks, creates interest in the brand,

4. Humourous banter in the style of youths' dialogue between friends
This is a risky strategy as it may either offend or lack credibility especially if their not seen as a youth brand. though if done well could create positive connotations and is likely to encourage a response.

Regardless of tone, timing needs to be an important factor. Brands need to develop a continuous dialogue with consumers and offer them something new otherwise they'll get bored and forget about them undoing any good relationships started. Though communicating too often with them may irritate users. As social networks are fairly personal spaces users may feel that brands are intruding causing negative associations with the brand. Ultimately brands should try and understand and categorise how willing they are to talk to brands and how accepting they are of advertising.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

social networking; just another excuse for a popularity contest

Are we really interested in networking and interacting with others on sites such as facebook, myspace and bebo or are they just used as another chance to showcase individual's credentials; their success in work or socially, boast how many friends they have or how much fun they're having.

Many friends of mine on social networks seem to be adding people they don't even know under the pretense that they are their friend just to boost their number of contacts. These are often the same people that spend mindless hours trying to come up with witty status and upload every photo they've ever taken yet most don't actually have any wall posting activity. They don't actually talk to people on these sites.

Many have admited to me, their main use of sites such as facebook is to keep track of others activities hense the pet names stalkbook, or facestalk among others.

It would seem therefore that we are not interested in creating new dialogues, we have simply found a new way to be nosey and fuel gossip. There therfore may be less scope for marketers than they first anticipated if this is users' sole agenda.

Unless they can tap into this lust for gossip and snooping possibly by either aiding this process or making themselves the subject of the gossip, at the same time therfore stirring interest in the brand and a pulling power to their url in future for updates. Constant updating must however be maintained. Something which many companies seem to lack, unjderstandable however as it can be very time consuming.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

bloggers x bloggers x bloggers = blogssssssssssssss

As more people take the role of citizen journalist causing the abundance of blogs becomes even bigger will anyone have time to read them all or will the get lost in the crowd and it will be harder to find those that are worth reading. Its true, people do trust what they read on blogs, as though it was a professional article. We need to remember that they are only opinions and it is unknown how informed these opinions are.
With more people able to have a say though it should make companies more accountable for their actions and increase transparency of their business activities and agendas which can only be a good thing for the consumer.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

My million

The online world has gone a little bit mad. All morning I've been browsing the net and asked to sign in, sign up and make a profile no less than 8 times.

All I wanted to do was engage in a little light entertainment and comment on a stupid video I'd seem on but found I had to sign up, enter my details, create a profile, invite my friends, load my videos, upload pictures,Is there a site out there offering content that doesn't ask you first to sign up enter your details and create a profile. It all seems very time consuming. Is there a reason why we can't have one login, one username, one password and one profile that can be used for everything.

Its great that companies have woken up to the opportunities of data capturing and social networks but it does seem to have become a bit ridiculous. Has everyone just jumped on the band wagon? It will be interesting to see how long these last.

Will there be a user backlash in the wake, where people get sick of trying to keep up with all their networks, passwords and blogs and call for one universal network? or do we like these small niches where we can decompartmentalise our life and interests. I suppose it relates to the postmodernism whereby consumers enjoy being playful with their identity and roles in society.

It does raise a scary thought though. One that brings us back to initial worries of communicating over an annoymous interface. People we talk to aren't necessary who we think they are so therefore are these networks that we set up resting on lies? Perhaps for the minority but lets not get too paranoid.

Monday, 7 July 2008

open vs closed networks

The new trend for social networks is to go niche, a way of new challengers carving themselves a place in the market. So from a marketing point of view its no surprise.

What's interesting is why we as users are so keen to close down the possibilities of such a great open space, surely defeating the point of the internet in the first place.

I can't decide whether its a good or bad thing to have closed networks. Maybe if we had more open or universal ones we could communicate on different sites without having to sign up and create new profiles all the time. It does seem to slow down the process and deter people from using more than a few different sites.

Ever time I fill in a registration form I get more conscious how much personal information I'm putting out there and whether it can be manipulated for someone else's' benefit. Maybe this is a good thing though as it makes us more careful, as privacy is always going to be an issue.

On the plus side of closed networks and possibly why the trend is moving towards niche network sites is because people want to feel they belong and having a closed group of people with similar interests creates a sense of community and a group identity that we want to associate ourselves with.

Speculation over facebook's drop in popularity I would have thought to be due to its decision to open up to the general public, eliminating its exclusivity to students which I think had damaged its cool factor and has increased the take up of applications due to the different type of people who participate on these networks.

The whole of society works on the basis of the in and out groups. Those who are in have power and superiority over those they don't let in but they have to let enough people in for it to be seen as a desirable and well known group. Therefore I think trends will always switch between open and closed areas to keep the balance right.