Using Social Networking for Marketing

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[edit] Acknowledgements

A large portion of this Wiki was taken from research papers of two students at the University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business. One of these research papers is “Marketing Strategy For Social Networking Sites” by Andrew Zrike. The second research paper is “Buzz in Practice” by Joseph Ferencz and Stephen Hellerman.

[edit] What is Social Media?

Social media is a term used to describe a broad spectrum of online destinations. Generally speaking, social media comprises a great variety of websites which have a social element in them. Some of the most common types of social media are:

  • Social networks – Online communities based on communication with friends or with people with common interests. Social networks have experienced extraordinary growth in the past 5-6 years with a tremendous increase in the number of sites, traffic, popularity (46% of people use it on a daily basis) and time (it’s now the most time intensive online activity with an average of 4.6 hours per week).
  • Publishing platform – Blogging and micro-blogging sites. Blogging, writing web journals about various topics, has been around for many years but micro-blogging (e.g. Twitter), sharing ideas in 140 characters or less, only emerged in recent years and is gaining extreme popularity
  • Sharing platforms – sites in which users share videos, photos, etc.

Image:1.jpg Image:2.jpg

[edit] What are Social Networks?

Social networking sites (SNS) is a term used to describe a broad spectrum of online destinations. Generally speaking, a SNS is an online community of people who are looking to use the web to communicate with other members of a community. Social networking sites are often built around a group of individuals with shared interests/activities or a desire to explore the interests and activities of others.(1) Although SNS have been a part of the Internet landscape for over a decade, the last 4 to 6 years have been marked by a tremendous increase in the number of sites and site traffic, to the point that social networking is now one of the top uses of the internet. The number of users and the amount of time that they spend online is so substantial that these sites are having and will continue to have an impact on the way that people consume media and interact with the world around them.

When it comes to online social networking, websites are commonly used. These websites are known as social sites. Social networking websites function like an online community of Internet users. Depending on the website in question, many of these online community members share common interests in hobbies, religion, or politics. Once you are granted access to a social networking website, you can begin to socialize. This socialization may include reading the profile pages of other members and possibly contacting them.

New friendships are one of the many benefits to social networking online. Another benefit is increased interaction with a diverse community because the Internet gives individuals from around the world access to social networking sites. This means that although you are in the United States, you could develop an online friendship with someone in Denmark. Not only will you make new friends, but you just might learn a thing or two about new cultures or new languages.

As mentioned, social networking often involves grouping specific individuals or organizations together. While there are a number of social networking websites that focus on particular interests, others do not. Websites without a specific focus are often referred to as "traditional" social networking websites and usually have open memberships, meaning that anyone can become a member no matter what their hobbies, beliefs, or views are. However, once you are inside this online community, you can begin to create your own network of friends and eliminate members that do not share common interests or goals.

[edit] Social Networks Statistics

Leading Social Networks in the U.S Image:3.jpg

Leading Social Networks worldwide Image:20.jpg

The Social Network Involvement Report (Link) expands on the leading social networks in the biggest markets worldwide.

The following image displays the trend in which social media is growing not only in traffic but also in time spent on site:


[edit] Strategy: How Marketers Can Use Social Networks:

SNS sites are potentially useful for marketing for following reasons:

1. Targeted Message: SNS sites allow companies to target their marketing efforts:

Most social networking sites require users to enter personal information and interests. This information can be used by the SNS to assist marketers to reach their consumer targets using the site. For instance, on Facebook (as seen in the below image), targeting parameters include country, state, city or town, age, gender, interests, activities, and music tastes. Using this targeting information, marketers can decide if they want to use SNS to reach a general audience or to reach a very specific target group. For example, a marketer could decide to deliver ads on Facebook specifically to 18-21 year olds, who live in the northeast, who are single, play basketball, and listen to rap music.

Image:Figure 4.jpg

2. Build customer engagement with brands and companies: SNS users engage with brands:

SNS users may interact with and add their favorite brands to their personal profiles to add an additional dynamic to the story they are telling their SNS friends with their profile or get updated information on a brand. This phenomenon is evident in a recent survey administered by Forester research. The survey found that more than 30% of 18-26 and 27-40 year old Facebook users are interested in seeing marketer profiles online. Furthermore, their level of interest to interact with brands increases the longer they have been a member of the SNS.

SNS uses are interested in interacting with brands, however only if the content is unique/compelling, provides value, and is relevant to who they are.

Since customers want to engage with their favorite brands, the most common approach to marketing on social networking sites is to set up a profile for the brand, which members can then join,friend, or “like.” For example, the movie X-Men: The Last Stand has more than 2 million MySpace users as friends. And it works: Many SNS users actually welcome interactions with the brands that they love. Almost half of all adult daily SNS users say that they would be open to seeing profiles from their favorite marketers. (15)

Viral, downloadable elements deliver marketing value in an SNS campaign. A study also found that the biggest impact on marketing results came when social networking site users incorporated a downloadable element — like an Adidas wallpaper or badge — into their own profile pages. These brand elements take on a life of their own because users provide context and meaning for the brand then the user’s friends see it, download it themselves, or tell others about it. In other words, once users become actively engaged with the brand, they become brand advocates.(16) A study by Marketing Evolution found that more than 70% of the marketing value created by the social network marketing campaigns resulted from the “momentum effect” of these viral, pass-along elements spreading across the network.(17) Moreover, display ads played a catalytic role in driving awareness and traffic to the profiles — in effect, kick-starting the viral process.

3. Size and breadth :

Social media is mainstream: As reviewed in the current landscape section above, SNS is no longer a niche online activity; it is now one of the primary uses of the Internet.

Some stats as of October 2008 that marketers should be aware of:  The top social networking sites receive approximately a combined 250 million unique users per month  Two-thirds of the world’s Internet population visits social media sites (SNS + Blogs)  10% of all internet time is social in nature  More than half of the most trafficked websites in 2008 were social in nature  Television viewership and periodical use is down while online consumption is up

Marketers gravitate to where people are, and in 2009 people are using social networking sites.

When SNS began to first gain popularity in 2003/2004, users tended to be "20 something trendsetters." However, as the sites have become mainstream, the SNS user base has become more diverse, as evident by the Facebook user demographic breakdown below.


Three months later, reported that more than 50% of Facebook users and 44% of MySpace users in the U.S. were over 35 years old, while according to Nielson Online, Facebook’s greatest growth in global audience numbers is coming from people aged 35-49. While SNS’s original demographics made it an environment that attracted primarily youth orientated marketers, today, the diversity of SNS users makes it a worthwhile marketing tool for a wider variety of companies.

Users are fairly concentrated and therefore easier for Marketers to reach: The top 5 social networking sites have 241.5 million unique visitors per month, which is over ¼ of all monthly SNS users. Since the top 2 SNS (Facebook and MySpace) have a total reach of over 180 million unique people every month, marketers can concentrate on these larger sites in order to reach a large piece of the SNS pie. This is extremely valuable considering the fragmented media environment that exists today.

4. Increase Awareness

Some users learn about new products on social networks themselves, usually by seeing their friends associated with a brand. In a recent survey, almost one-fourth of daily youth social networking users said that they learned about new products on social networking sites. (18)

5. Create Buzz

Traditional marketing, such as a television ad showcasing a laundry detergent’s relative cleaning power, is a linear marketing strategy, the goal of which is grab consumer’s attention for long enough to deliver a scripted message. Buzz marketing represents a divergent marketing strategy; its goal is to leverage the impressions created by an initial marketing message by inciting consumers to organically spread that message or an interpretation of that message through the consumer’s social or professional network. Buzz marketing can serve a wide variety of products and be implemented in countless ways. The one thing that all Buzz campaigns have in common is that they get consumers and media outlets to spread the message for free. Outside of that, Buzz, if properly executed, can serve any product or service. Some campaigns use the internet to allow consumers to spread information or participate in games or contests, other campaigns attempt to get the mainstream media to pick up a story or piece of content and spread it to consumers, who will then talk about it with each other. Other campaigns offer free products to consumers in the hope that they will then tell their friends about it. Pick any media where information can be transferred, any product category, and any genre of marketing content, from purely functional to purely entertaining with no over commercial message at all, and Buzz marketers have attempted to find a winning combination of those factors to accomplish their business goals.

For more information on Buzz Marketing, click here: Viral Marketing[1].

[edit] Tactics: How Marketers Use And Should Use Social Networking Sites

The below sections give guidelines on what marketers should and should not do when using SNS to reach their consumers. It also provides an overview of the different tools and techniques that can be used achieve their SNS marketing goals.

General Guidelines:

As social networking sites work to make themselves more useful to their users, the sites continuously introduce new features and redesigned layouts. The downside of this constant innovation is that marketers need to figure out how to develop relevant marketing campaigns that reach and engage consumers despite the constant change that is part of the SNS landscape. As a result, marketers need to develop SNS initiatives that can cut through this constant change and resulting clutter on the sites and add value to the experience of users. According to Brenna Sweeney, Digital Manager at MillerCoors, “Frequently marketers think that you can communicate with consumers using the social media the same way you would talk to them using traditional media. You need to talk to them in a way that is unique to the social media channel you are using.” Given this environment, SNS marketing efforts should follow the below guidelines in order to be successful given the unique environment of SNS:

Be Unique and Compelling: There is an incredibly large amount of content being produced by marketers, media companies, and users on the web. There is an incredible amount of new features being introduced by the SNS companies themselves. As a result all SNS marketing efforts need to stand out in this cluttered environment.

Provide Value: Users are on SNS sites to communicate with other users, not to be marketed to. As a result, in order to engage users, marketers need to create campaigns that contribute to the experience of the target user and the SNS as a whole. In order to make sure your SNS is providing value, you should be able to answer the following question: Does the marketing effort provide valuable content that supports the community members’ goals? Content must attract and appeal to community members by aligning with their core drivers and interests. Examples of compelling content include media, interactive games, contests, behind-the-scenes photos, and music.

Connect SNS Efforts To Business Objectives and Other Marketing Campaigns: Like all campaigns, SNS marketing should connect back to your business/marketing objective. SNS marketing efforts should connect to non-SNS campaigns. They will have a greater chance of success if they promoted from other locations (company websites, blogs, etc) outside of the SNS. In order to make sure that your SNS is connecting SNS efforts to business objectives and other marketing campaigns, you should be able to answer the following questions: Are key elements of the marketing effort available where needed? Members should find content and features where they expect them. Experiences should give priority to the most important attributes — such as videos — to avoid causing confusion. Is there an appropriate call to action? Brand marketers need to make clear what they want each member to achieve, from registering to win prizes to learning more about products, to actual eCommerce. The most effective calls to actions will take place in the context of the community and use community language to provide members with a reward they would actually prefer.

Update Frequently: SNS users frequently log into their accounts several times a day. Marketers should dedicate resources to have their pages updated regularly to engage consumers and make their connection to your brand worthwhile. Does the company participate in the effort on an ongoing basis? Brand representatives and employees should interact with community members by welcoming and supporting them and participating in the ongoing conversation.

Foster communication: SNS is all about communication. Marketing efforts on SNS should also center around communication. When possible involve functionality that allows users to communicate with each other and the brand/marketer to interact with users. In order to make sure your SNS is fostering communication, you should be able to answer the following questions: Does the marketing effort encourage member-to-member participation? Social networks allow members to talk, share, and gesture to each other. Interactive marketers must capitalize features that support these activities, like Q&A, social games, and discussion forums. Does the marketing effort encourage member-to-Web site interaction? In many cases, member-to-Web site interaction can fuel an ongoing level of engagement with a community. By providing features such as games, quizzes, or media campaigns, companies entice members to spend more time interacting with the marketing effort. Does the marketing effort allow the members to share the elements to other locations? Social networks are efficient word-of-mouth engines. As a result, marketers should leverage the tools that enable members to quickly share their interests with their peers. Successful features include: embed codes, profile sharing, customized home page layouts, widgets, and badges.

Make It Scalable/Viral: A key component of SNS is that it allows for the quick distribution of information. Marketing efforts on SNS should also be easily distributed/shared and include functionality so that they can be spread virally and ultimately reach and impact a greater number of users. The more scalable/viral your execution is the greater change that it will have a large and long term impact. For scalability to work, you should be able to answer the following question: Is the marketing effort self-fueling? Marketing efforts that turn over control to members benefit because the community supplies ongoing value. The most successful efforts build long-term relationships between consumers and companies to fuel brand affiliation.

Which social media tactics are companies using?


In the following sections you will find a description and usage examples of various tactics in social media. The most common and prominent tools and platforms are presented as these are the most important to implement for any brand and odds are high that your agency might include it in its social media strategy. A great deal of importance is given to Facebook as it is the world’s most time consuming and growing website which does allow a great variety of creative work and ways to engage with consumers.

[edit] Social Media Marketing tactics

Facebook | Display Ads

Display ads are the traditional banner ads we see in all commercial websites. Some of them offer rich media and higher engagement but at the end of the they it’s just another form of paid ads we know from other media such as TV or print. Are display ads in social media any different? They are indeed different since of the much higher targeting available for marketers. In many of the social network a marketer can target by the user’s demographics (age, gender, relationship status and location) as well as education, workplaces and even interests. Both the targeting and amount of time spent on social media led a great increase in ad budgets dedicated for social media display campaigns. Not surprisingly Facebook is in the lead. At the beginning of 2010 Facebook surpassed Yahoo as the largest publisher of display ads on the web and this trend is only growing.


Creating a simple Facebook ad campaign is fairly easy - Facebook instruction video A Nielsen study showed that Facebook-home-page ads on average generated a 10% increase in ad recall, a 4% increase in brand awareness and a 2% increase in purchase intent among users who saw them compared with a control group with similar demographics or characteristics who didn't. Facebook display ads are even more effective when they take advantage of the social context in which they live. For example, the increase in recall jumped to 16% when ads included mentions of friends who were brand fans, and 30% when the ads coincided with a similar mention in users' news feeds. Brand awareness saw similar bumps: up 2% from just a home-page ad, 8% with a "social ad" bearing mentions of friends who were brand fans and up 13% when a home-page ad appeared along with a mention of friends who were brand fans in the users' news feeds. Purchase intent was 2% higher among viewers of home-page ads vs. nonviewers, but got a four-times-bigger bump, up 8% either from social ads or when ads appeared alongside organic mentions of the brand in the news feed. Yet, of the 18 million users exposed to the ads, only around 130,000, or less than 1%, actually "engaged" with them by clicking on them. But around 40,000, or around 4%, of users who saw organic mentions of their friends become brand fans clicked on those news items. Source


Facebook | Fan Pages

Facebook Pages are are profiles that are not personal (i.e belong to an actual person) a page can be associated with a company, a brand, an artist or anything else users might see as having affiliation with. As brand homepages are losing relevance and traffic since most of them are not supplying value and interest to consumers, Facebook Fan Pages are continuing to gain popularity and essentially becoming the brands homepage.



Consumers become fans of brands for two main reasons: 1. To indicate their affiliation and love to the brand in the social space 2. To receive value from the brand (either discounts or news)


Google Retail Advertising Blog

Yet, if the brand does not interact and engage with its fans then isn’t fully utilizing its resources. Therefore, building a Fan page should be accompanied with a concrete strategy. A study by the Altimeter groups specifies 8 key success factors for Facebook page marketing and investigates how leading brands are acting according to it.

What should you do with a Facebook Page? Here are 8 Success Criteria:

  1. Set community expectations - Clearly Articulate Expectations to Reduce Confusion and Abuse. Brands must clearly articulate expectations, so fans will know how to best interact with the page. First, describe what fans can expect from the brand: from deals, tips, support, or just news and information. Second, brands must explain what they expect from fans, and define what is appropriate versus inappropriate – and what content will be policed. By setting these expectations up front, brands can prevent some forms of abuse, maximizing the experience for fans. Post Community Guidelines, Terms of Use, or a Moderation Policy
  2. Provide cohesive branding – Create a Holistic Experience that Matches the Brand. This creates a familiar experience for fans, and differentiates a brand’s page from other brands. As a first step, brands must complete their profile information, and upload branded logos, maximizing the real estate that Facebook pages allow in profile pictures. For a more powerful experience beyond the limited default features, create custom applications or tabs that resonate with your theme. Most importantly a brand should design a custom landing page so new visitors will recognize the brand experience they have come to know and expect.
  3. Be up to date – Keep Interaction High with Fresh, Timely Content. New visitors want to know that the brand is present, while existing followers need a reason to stay engaged. Brands can accomplish both of these by keeping their pages current and consistently adding fresh content. For example, Ford will only reveal the 2011 Explorer on Facebook and not as usual in a flashy publicity event.
  4. Provide Value – Give your fans a reason to access your profile. Post content following the 80/20 rule: 80% of content should be informational, educational, or have entertainment value. Only 20% of content should be specifically about the brand’s product or services.
  5. Live authentically - Build Trust by Personalizing Interactions with a “Human Touch.” Facebook is unique from other social networks in that it requires users to provide their real names, providing authentic people-to-people connections. As a result, brands should follow suit so fans connect to the people behind the brand. Posts should be written in first person, using a conversational tone. Brands that enable fans to have conversations with actual page administrators have the best chance at creating deeper relationships and brand loyalty. Do this by displaying administrator names or photos, or inviting page administrators to add signatures to their posts.
  6. Participate in dialog and promote conversations – Connect with Customers by Fostering Two-Way Dialog. Brands must engage with fans in the manner which they are already accustomed. Two-way dialog spurs interaction, trust, and the spread of information. To foster two-way dialog, interact heavily with fans in existing discussions and create your own. When fans comment, acknowledge them and respond. In addition, create an environment that encourages peer-to-peer interactions – ask fans to respond to each other, showcase fan contributions, and recognize top contributors.
  7. Foster advocacy – Provide your fans with tools to advocate for your brand. Prospects trust customers more than they trust brands, so promoting advocacy is an essential strategy. Because customer to prospect recommendations often occurs organically, it’s also a lower cost channel. Start by simply asking existing fans to suggest the page to others or “like” a wall post. Take it to the next level by encouraging fans to do something on the page that is worth sharing with their Facebook friends, e.g. “voting on something, ‘sounding off’ on something, sharing videos or photos. Get creative with custom tabs and applications by tapping into contests, polls, submissions and other means of self-expression that encourage members to invite and involve their friends.
  8. Solicit a call to action - Many brands fail to deliver simple call to actions that lead fans from engagement to purchase. Start with simple, yet immediate call to actions on your landing page and wall page. Ask fans to “Like” your page, sign up for emails or newsletters, and most importantly, give them opportunities to reach your offerings without being pushy. Provide tabs with enable exclusive deals, browsing products, and making a transaction.

Some of the best Facebook fan pages belong to big brands such as Coca Cola, Intel, Nokia, Toyota, Disney, McDonalds and more. It’s useful to learn from these pages. Source

According to a study by Virtue, on average, a fan base of 1 million translates into at least $3.6 million in equivalent media over a year. Therefore, the annual value of a Facebook fan is $3.6 Source

Other research by Syncapse suggests that the value of a fan is much higher due to its subsequent purchases and loyalty to the brand. The study estimates a fan’s worth in $136 and adds that: • On average, fans spend an extra $71.84 they would not otherwise spend on products they describe themselves as fans of, compared to those who are not fans. • Fans are 28 percent more likely than non-fans to continue using a specific brand. • Fans are 41 percent more likely than non-fans to recommend a product they are a fan of to their friends.

Since it’s became a status symbol for brands, some brands use methods just to increase their fan number without necessarily invest in the fan page and have a long time strategy. One of the methods is giving a freebie, discount or access to info only to fan. For example Papa John’s and Kraft Athenos’ promotion.


Facebook | Groups

Facebook Groups are not for commercial usage and usually represent common social interests. They are also limited to 5000 members.

Facebook | Applications

Facebook applications are a great way to supply consumers with value while creating extended exposure to the brand and contributing to the brand perception. One example of a branded Facebook application is American Express’ Get Together application which uses the user’s friend’s list to find cheap flights to their destinations.


Yet, branded applications have obstacles. The space is extremely competitive with application developers and brands continuously launching apps that all vie for the attention and time of users. Mike Lazerow, chief executive at Buddy Media, a company that builds social media branded applications for brands says that there are three major reasons why branded apps on social networks fail:

  • They are not social: Branded applications work much better when they connect people. If their main purpose can be accomplished better outside of a social network, they probably should not be launched as branded social apps in the first place. The core of the application should be sharing, evangelizing, entertainment.
  • They are too complicated: The best applications are easy to use. They have clear calls to action and can be used with a few clicks of the mouse. For example, the Buddy Media application, Chevy Fuel Finder allows users to easily search for the cheapest gas prices in any geographic locale.
  • They are not marketed properly: Applications don’t just go viral by themselves. They need to be marketed. Branded applications are both ad units and marketing platforms and need to be promoted as such. That being said, brands need to evaluate their business needs and identify a social media strategy that integrates the features and values of the brand.”

Therefore, the newer trend is for marketers to take sponsorship and cooperate with existing popular applications. For example, The ultra popular Facebook Game Farmville (Link) cooperated with Microsoft Bing which gained over 400,000 Facebook fans in a single day thanks to a single advertisement in FarmVille. This promotion enabled users could gain virtual currency by becoming a fan of the Bing Facebook page. The ad was a clever integration, and users could join the Bing page without interrupting their game.


Another example combines the virtual world and the real world. General Mills provided on its product packaging a coupon which was worth virtual Farmville currency.


Branded Social Networks/Communities:

In order to exert greater control over social media marketing efforts and to connect directly with their consumers, companies can choose to create their own social networking site. A company run SNS allows a business to work outside the limitations of established SNS like Facebook and instead create an environment that meets the specific needs of the companies consumers.

An example of this is Procter & Gamble’s Pampers Village. Pampers Village is an online community that allows moms and soon to be moms to connect with each other. The site has traditional SNS functionality such as user profiles, discussion forums, and widgets. According to Jodi Allen, North American vice president and general manager for Pampers, the site is built around the common experience that moms have. She says, "All moms share a common goal -- to raise a healthy, happy child. And the great thing about is that moms can connect, bond and chat with other moms all over the globe in real time and share in each other's experiences.". As a marketing tool, the site demonstrates that Pampers understands mothers, and works to establish a relationship between the brand and the mother that will potentially continue throughout the mother’s Pampers buying life.


Another example of a company run social networking site is’s Shelfari. According to their website, Shelfari is a “ global community of book lovers and encourages them to share their literary inclinations and passions with peers, friends, and total strangers.” While getting consumers excited about books is great for Amazon, the real benefit of Shelfari for Amazon is that it drives the sites users to purchase the books they discover from


Financial Services and B2B companies, which typically have had trouble connecting to consumers using general social networking sites like Facebook, are also creating their own social networking communities to better connect and understand their consumers. For instance, instead of building a major presence on a site like Facebook, Bank Of America has opened a member site called “Small Business Online Community.” The site gives small business owners who are Bank of American customers the ability to connect with each other and to speak to Bank Of America in an unfiltered open manner. The site allows consumers to better understand what their bank offers them while also helping them build a relationship with other small business owners. The site allows the bank to better understand their customers, while also extending their brand in a much more personal way than through traditional CRM techniques. (24)


Company Created SNS Has Its Dangers: Similar to the concepts discussed in the section above (The Danger Of Ignoring Your Consumers), opening a company run SNS gives users the opportunity to post negative comments and discuss issues that they have with the company and its products. Companies who go do decide to open up their own SNS must realize that negative comments are a strong possibility and should have a set procedure on how to deal with these comments in a productive fashion (merely deleting them is not enough.) Site managers should follow the guidelines given above on how best to listen and respond to consumers on SNS: know your consumer’s social media habits, have a response mechanism in place, look for changes in chatter, and pinpoint passion points.

[edit] Implementing a Social Network Campaign

In this reality where a great portion of consumers time and attention is invested into social media it’s not wonder why marketers are trying to “fish where the fish are” and execute social media activities that will reach and engage with their consumers. Yet, social media marketing has completely different rules than any other kind of marketing, obviously from traditional media marketing but also from traditional online marketing. Many marketers jump into social media initiatives without having a well defined strategy and understanding of what they want to achieve. For example, rushing into launching a Facebook brand page only to find out that they have no idea what to do with it once it’s up. Therefore, before executing in social media ask yourself the following questions. In this tutorial we will focus mainly on social networks since it is the most growing area, the most diverse and the most complicated to execute marketing initiatives in.


What are your Objectives?

These are the main objectives marketers have for social media engagement.


Let’s walk through these objectives and drill down into more concrete ones you might define as your objectives for social media engagement.

  • Brand awareness
    • Supply information about products
    • Launch new products
    • Increase reach (geographic or sector)
    • Establish thought leadership/authority
    • Drive traffic to a website
  • Customer Acquisition
    • Generate leads
    • Increase sales
  • Customer Loyalty
    • Develop a relationship with consumers
    • Get feedback from current consumers
    • Providing customer service
  • Other
    • Consumer Research
    • Cost saving (e.g. reducing recruitment costs)
    • Public relations

Who are your Consumers?

Ask yourself the following questions when determining who your target consumer for social media activities is:

  • Who are your consumers? Are they the same ones as for other marketing activities?
  • Where are your consumers? Which platforms and technologies do they use?
  • What are their social behaviors? What do they do and how often?
  • What social information or people influence them? Who do they influence?

What are your Resources

  • What resources do I have to get involved in social media?
  • Do you have the right kind of people in-house to support it? Marketing people? Content people? Technology people? Customer service


  • Should you use external consultants? Agencies? Social media companies?
  • Do you have enough budgets?
  • Do you have backup of senior management? Social media marketing is far beyond a small initiatives

What are you Measuring?

Understand what can be measured and how these measurements might fit you objectives. (e.g if you use social media as a sales channel then maybe you don’t care about the conversation but only about the bottom line). The most common measurement criteria might be:

  • Online
    • Traffic to website
    • Traffic to social media pages
    • Followers/Fans/Friends
    • Search volume for your brand
    • Social conversation
  • Offline
    • Brand perceptions change
    • Sales

Golden Rules of Social Media

GigaOm, one of the most highly regarded tech and social media bloggers, offers a great list of golden rules for corporate involvement in social media:

1. Listen. The best way to start your foray in social networks and other social media platforms is to listen. Listen to the conversations already happening around you before you jump in to join them. Listen to the ebb and flow. Listen to the rhythm of discourse. Listen to the stream to make sure you understand — and respect — what is already taking place. You will surely misstep if you do not listen.

2. Add Value. The term “value” is subjective, but once you have truly listened, you will be able to discern with relative certainty what is valuable to any given conversation or community. Can you add value to the conversation, not just an empty voice? Can you be a resource? A supporter? A cheerleader? An organizer? What is your social media value proposition?

3. Respond. If you are listening, you will hear when someone says something that begs your attention. You will hear when someone references you. You now have a door to enter the conversation. And if you’ve listened thoughtfully and have something valuable to share, your participation will be welcome.

4. Do Good Things. At this point in our lives, we should all know right from wrong. We should all want to do the right thing. We know that spamming is wrong — it is invasive, thoughtless, worthless, and a surefire way to mucking up a potential conversation. We know that scamming is wrong. We know that being honest is good and the right thing to be. We know that helping others and being generous is good, too.

5. Be Real. Be yourself. Even if you are representing a company or brand and are using the “voice of the company” or “voice of the brand,” you can still be human. Yes there is a time and place for automating a message, but learn when that’s appropriate. Be present. Be there. If you — or a real person who is paying attention and cares — cannot be there, don’t bother with social media. Remember that people are on the receiving end of everything you put out in more intimate ways than ever before. Don’t abuse that privilege when they let you into their feeds and streams.


[edit] Measuring a Social Network Campaign

A study by MIT provided metrics for social media campaigns: Image:21.jpg

[edit] Case Study: Social Networks Marketing Success Stories:

1. Red Bull On Facebook And Use Of Facebook Connect

Among all the brands that use SNS to connect to fans, Red Bull stands out. First, by integrating social media concepts and viralability on its own website, then MySpace, and now with their presence on Facebook. While most of the content they have on Facebook is available on their other web sites, by having the content available on Facebook, users can find it all in one place, comment on it, and easily share it with their friends. Their success in this space is evident by the 1,056,897 fans Facebook fans. However, Red Bull stands out not only because it is a top Facebook page in terms of number of fans, but they also been able to generate a high level of interaction with these fans. Below I will describe the following approaches that help to make them so successful on SNS: Frequent contact with fans, innovative use of Facebook Connect, and creation and distribution of original content/applications.

Red Bull Sends Out Frequent/Engaging Messages and Content To Fans:

As evident by the below snapshot of their Facebook wall page, Red Bull is constantly communicating with their fans. From the page, you can see that Red Bull has sent out 6 messages to their page fans in the last week (2 in the last day). These messages take advantage of the most recent Facebook redesign, which allows Red Bull to send out messages that look and read like messages that an average Facebook user would send. However, more importantly than just sending out frequent messages, Red Bull sends out messages that contain content that is relevant to their 1,000,000 fans. Instead of drilling the Facebook fans over the head with marketing messaging, Red Bull instead sends users messages that include streaming videos, music, and links that are relevant to the Red Bull’s target audience. Evidence of the success of these messages is apparent by the large number of individuals that are using the interactive thumbs up feature (to show that they like the content) and leaving comments discussing the message that Red Bull has sent out. Some of messages viewable on the wall from the screenshot below have over 8,000 people who indicate that they like it, and several have over 500 comments. Red Bull is clearly hitting a chord and spurring interaction with these messages.


Red Bull Is One Of The First Brands To Use Facebook Connect:

In July 2008, Facebook announced Facebook Connect, which enables users to login to affiliated sites using their Facebook account and share information from such sites with their Facebook friends. Rather than start their own SNS, Red Bull instead decided to capitalize on the popularity of Facebook and their over 1 million Facebook fans, and created an environment that integrates an Red Bull site with Facebook. As a result, users of this site, called Red Bull Connect, and Facebook, can seamlessly jump from one environment to the other.

The content on Facebook Connect closely mirrors the content found on Red Bull’s Facebook page, however, in this environment you are able to drag and organize the stories and updates as your desire (customizability that is not possible on Facebook proper). Since the user is still connected to Facebook, they are able to comment on the stories using their facebook profile. Users also have the ability to meet and become Facebook friends with other people who are on the Red Bull Connect site. Once you become friends with someone via Red Bull Connect, you are also given updates on what they have been doing on the site, similar to the Facebook newsfeed. As a whole, Red Bull Connect capitalizes on the connection that Red Bull has made with Facebook users and gives them a new and dynamic way to engage with the brand.


Red Bull Uses Original Content To Engage Users:

Red Bull profiles also gives users access to a large amount of interactive content. There are games, widgets, free downloadable music, streaming video, links to Red Bull athlete pages, a calendar of Red Bull events, discussion boards, and surveys. The majority of this content has an interactive/viral component so that if you like it you can spread it to your Facebook friends. Red Bull understands that these applications shouldn’t force Red Bull branding and marketing initiatives down users throats, but instead they use the Red Bull brand as a starting point to engage users with content that they will want to interact with. The higher quality the content is, the stronger the brand association becomes for these users.

2. Volkswagen On MySpace with Helga

Volkswagen has taken a cool approach of building a community on MySpace. Marketers at Volkswagen created a MySpace profile page for Helga, the German character who appears in some of the company’s TV commercials. Visitors learn Helga’s likes (“I love the smell if gasoline. Gears turning, oil burning, stomach churning. Go fast or go home. Efficiency.”) and Dislikes (“Pimped rides, bumper balls, people in the left lane going 40 with the blinker on. Traffic. Scorpios, you can trust them.”) Users can download ringtones, images of Helga, and short audio clips in Helga’s strong German accent. (30)


Successful Facebook campaigns

  • Burger King - In Whopper Sacrifice, the company invited users to delete friends in exchange for Whopper and caused a great buzz (Case Study)
  • Ikea - In Ikea Showroom, the company invited users to tag Ikea items in pictures of rooms and win them (Case Study)
  • German AIDS campaign – In this campaign the Anti-AIDS opened groups for people who have sex without protection and then changed the groups’ name to AIDS carriers (Case Study)
  • Coca Cola - In Coca Cola Village, an event marketing activity, visitors to the village could “like” objects in the real world by waving their hand, while it was posted on their personal Facebook wall (Case Study)

Successful Foursqaure campaigns

Services such as Foursqaure, Gowalla, Loopt and recently Facebook Places allow users to “check-in” in places using their mobile devices and letting the world know about their location. Frequent “check-ins” in the same place rewards the user with badges (e.g. being the “Mayor” of a Starbucks S. University) which are becoming a significant currency among users of these services. Companies can benefit from “check-ins” since it creates brand exposure to the social media in an authentic and conversation-provoking manner (e.g. “John has just checked in at Starbuck S. University”). Most commercial promotions are launched obviously by retailers since they have a physical location and are in these realms are around giving a discount to a user who checked in.


  • McDonalds - took advantage of Foursquare Day (4/16) to bring in more business. The company used 100 randomly awarded $5 and $10 giftcards as checkin bait to lure in potential diners. McDonalds increased foot traffic to stores by 33% in one day with a little at a total cost of a measly $1,000.
  • Gap - awarded 25% discount to every client who checked-in its branches via FourSquare.

Starbucks awarded a 1$ off only to Mayors of its branches, making the badge holders feel more unique and encouraging consumer loyally.


  • Financial Times - It’s not only physical retailers. Financial Times enabled people who checked-in Foursquare in different parts of London unrestricted access to its contents.

[edit] Why Social Networks Marketing Attempts Fail:

Most social network marketing isn’t being done effectively. This is because many brands (and their agencies) are deploying “interactive marketing” (user to website) experience rather than relying on the tools of social networks “social marketing” (member to member). As a result, many brands are wasting their time, money, and resources to reach communities in social networks without first understanding that the use case is very different than a microsite campaign. (31)

Here are some reasons why SNS marketing attempts fail:

You Chose the Wrong Channels:

You’ve seen the stats on Facebook and Myspace. They are HUGE. There is massive reach the size of google. This does not mean if you make a profile company for Chevy, everyone will be their friend and buy more cars. There is a HUGE disconnect between wanting to USE social media for marketing, and embracing it for better communication with customers.

How does a campaign that is on television only get a couple thousand friends on facebook? Improper distribution. I hope the *cough* branding was worth it.

Solution: You choose your social media channels by finding where the customers who want to talk about your company are talking. If they are NOT talking about your company anywhere, then you need to find common topics that a given community is interested in.

Example: If you have a site about young tech males - digg is definitely your place. If you have a site about cooking and gardening, you’re going to have to pander to young techie males on digg, or you’re going to need Find the community that your customers are most likely to hang out in. Then maybe explore a few bigger ones, and try to find a few of your people out of a crowd.

You Didn’t Execute

The number one problem that social media campaigns don’t succeed: POOR EXECUTION.

The site imploded when you hit the homepage of digg. Because you didn’t test all of your scripts under high volume duress, your webserver nearly melted, and wouldn’t serve pages. Half of the people trying to access your site had ridiculous load times, or never saw the content at all. Needless to say, those visitors didn’t subscribe for anything, or check out additional pages on the site.

Solutions: Fire your network adminstrator, because there’s no excuse for downtime. Find someone who understands apache a bit better. Cache your site, make sure all cylinders are a go, and PRACTICE. Release some b-material first to see how smoothly things go.

Start small and test. Increase your success through understanding and improvements of the larger social media sites by using the smaller ones to channel success and vice versa. If you can get to the digg homepage, you should probably be able to get a good amount of delicious bookmarks.

No one Trusted You

Your site is plastered with ads. You’re selling get rich quick schemes. Your web host went down. Your design sucks. There’s no contact information. There are no pictures of real people. Everyone has seen your stock photos before. There’s no address. There are plenty of reasons people won’t trust your website. Social media transparency will magnify trust issues, and people will really take swings at your potential flaws. Don’t set yourself up for failure by having people not trust you.

Solution: Read Matt McGee’s great article ( about building trust, and improve your credibility. Take down your advertising for social visitors, and give them a single call to action that is simple and not asking much.

You Forgot about Search Optimization

You built a site for social media. You pander to the audience, and gave the fickle crowd what they want. You forgot to create sustainable content around topics that are of interest to someone selling something. You brought in a bunch of WEB GRAZING SHEEPLE who don’t actually consume anything except media. Your users spend all day on stumbleupon, because they can barely afford more than their rent, an high speed internet connection, and a laptop with the meager salary they are able to earn working throughfeeding their need to be entertained second attention span.

You didn’t realize the main goal of your social media marketing was to help ultimately rank high for a high volume, high converting competitive phrase that drove your revenues through the rough for the next two years of sustaining the result.

Solution: Here’s the shameless plug. You need someone who understands social media marketing and other forms of search engine marketing to develop a comprehensive strategy for your online marketing efforts. You need a SMOSEO (social media marketing search engine optimizer).

Better yet - you need to learn about becoming a online media marketer yourself and understand how all forms of marketing can affect social media, search engine rankings, converting traffic, and what these services are worth. Educate yourself on becoming a better online marketer if you want to succeed yourself working on the web

[edit] Case Studies: Social Networks Marketing Failure Stories:

Social Media Marketing is a powerful tool, but also is hard to control. This article features a couple recent cases in which social marketing has failed or gone wrong.(32)

The Wal-Mart case

In August 2007, Wal-Mart started its own Facebook profile, aimed on students. The goal was to stimulate the consumer behavior of students on their student rooms. After a few weeks the original goal of the ‘Wal-Mart Roommate Style Match’ was far forgotten.

Visitors of Wal-Mart’s room decoration page can leave comments; a function intended to receive praise on the decoration tool, or a few suggestions for improvement at worst. Wal-Mart did probably not expect to have their complete Facebook Wall filled with criticism on its low wages, aversion to trade unions and unhealthy competition practices.

Marketers should keep this in mind when offering customers the option to make their opinions public. You could have many satisfied customers, but when you expect a small group of ‘brand terrorists’ to vent their frustrations for the whole world to see, you might want to think about how to respond to these frustrations. In order to build a positive social equity, Wal-mart should have taken these remarks as positive criticism and should have responded to each individual criticism with sincere and fact-based information. Wal-mart has missed a great opportunity to build a social equity with the community.

Wal-Mart – The second attempt

Packed with the experience of their last campaign a new attempt on social marketing was made. Wal-Mart announced the launch of a Social Marketing Campaign by allowing users to review content on their site.

A Social network site was launched for kids on the wal-mart website named ‘The Hub’. What happened was, parents had to be informed of every new registration which isn’t very ‘cool’ for the kids, although it’s great for parents. All content got screened by third a third party, while social networks are joined to express yourself in the way you want to. Next to that there were no options to PM or mail each other. Communication possibilities are a basic requirement for a social network site.

The marketers should’ve realized that just one stage of child-protection is the best they can do to keep kids safe while building a popular social network. People need to be given control and have the ability to allow two-way conversations to flow without you being the only one talking.

The Molson photo contest

In November 2007, Molson pulled the plug on its Facebook photo contest. Molson’s online marketing campaign, in which students were encouraged to post pictures of themselves partying on campus, was “misinterpreted” as promoting irresponsible drinking.

“We need to be communicating with our consumers because that’s where our consumers are communicating among themselves. We need to make sure we’re in that relevant channel”, the company said.

Marketers have to be more subtle than Molson in trying to capture users’ attention. The risk always remains that the marketer can lose control of its brand. Molson is wading into uncharted territory and stepped over the line of acceptability with its Facebook campaign.

The 2008 Ford Focus, unfocussed?

In October 2007, online ads were seen about a man who roars, moves and behaves like a lion. ‘Fake’ news articles were found as well; “The Lion-Man Escapes From High-Security University Research Centre”:

The relation between the ‘The Lion-Man’ and the Ford Focus stayed undiscovered by the big public. The viral failed because it was too hard to figure out what it was about. It also seems to have no purpose – there’s no payoff. There are no clear call-to-action events, no ‘go out and buy this’, nothing.

A lot of wasted money that ended up in an ad that looks more like a practical joke, rather than a viral campaign. Ford’s attempt on putting up a Facebook page featuring the “Lion-Man of Tanzania” ended up having 0 subscribers.

Titleist’s fictional golfer

Titleist is a major golfing product manufacturer that created a website for a fictional golfer and promoted it offline using formats like television advertising during major golf tournaments:

Offline marketing for an online campaign can sometimes work but it’s so much easier and cheaper to get things promoted online. Although the site really isn’t that bad, there’s no call-to-action for people to share the content or any incentives for them to upload music and videos which the site hopes they will do. People seem to forget all too easily that good content just won’t go viral – great content can and sometimes will. The videos on the site are good but aren’t great.

Titleist’s marketers should have looked at ways to promote their product online via social networks where they could have gotten their video more attention and website traffic. Don’t spend big dollars on TV advertising if you don’t have a website to back it up.

Nestle fails in managing its Facebook fan page

A bad example to managing a fan page is Nestle’s fan page. Following a negative campaign by Greenpeace (Video), Nestle’s fan page was overwhelmed with negative comments. Instead of creating a conversation and explaining its stand, the company deleted these comments and created a negative wave against the company among consumers and media.


[edit] Downsides of Social Networking

There are dangers associated with social networking including data theft and viruses, which are on the rise. The most prevalent danger though often involves online predators or individuals who claim to be someone that they are not. Although danger does exist with networking online, it also exists with networking out in the real world, too. Just like you're advised when meeting strangers at clubs and bars, school, or work -- you are also advised to proceed with caution online. By being aware of your cyber-surroundings and who you are talking to, you should be able to safely enjoy social networking online. It will take many phone conversations to get to know someone, but you really won't be able to make a clear judgement until you can meet each other in person. Just use common sense and listen to your inner voice; it will tell you when something doesn't feel right about the online conversations taking place.

Privacy Issues and Backlashes that comes with Targeted Messages:

So much customer information doesn’t come with pitfalls. There are a lot of privacy is concern, rules and backlashes attached to SNS marketing:

Negative Real World Impacts—ranging from public embarrassment (Mi6 chief pics) to job loss (fired teachers) Phishing & Stalking represent attacks on people, FB provides more opportunity for them

Friendship Dilemma--Facebook does have some manual controls to help with the friendship dilemma We do this naturally in the real world

Users unaware—of the extent of the accessibility of their content or the availability of privacy settings and how to use them

Users be Reactive--Emphasis on RE in reactive; there is psych theory about how users become concerned about privacy once you mention privacy; or if you recall earlier this year the outrage people expressed when they were told that they didn’t own their data—resulted in revised TOS

Privacy Paradox—Think of every photo you have in your FB profile. How many of you would want everyone to see those pictures? How many of you have changed your photo albums default privacy settings? (33)

[edit] Resources on Social Networking Cases, Websites, Books, Newsletters

Forrester Research Database in Kresge Library:

• Marketing On Social Networking Sites

• How Consumers Use Social Networks

• Best And Worst Of Social Network Marketing, 2008

• B2B Marketers: Tap Into Social Networking Sites To Energize Community Marketing

• Coolhunting With Teen Social Networkers

• How To Leverage Social Media For Audience And Revenue Growth

• Making Social Media Work In B2B Marketing

• How eBusiness Firms Use Social Tools To Connect With Customers

• The CIO's Guide To Social Computing Leadership

• Mintel Reports Database in Kresge Library “Social Network Marketing Report”


 (2) Nielsen Online, Global Faces and Networked Places, March 2009
 (3) Mintel Reports. Social Networking US. February 2010.
 (6)Nielsen Online, “Global Faces and Networked Places”, March 2009
 (7)Nielsen Online, “Global Faces and Networked Places” March 2009
 (11)Nielsen Online, “Global Faces and Networked Places” March 2009
 (15)Forrester Report. Marketing On Social Networking Sites. September 2007. p. 3
 (16)The Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) has defined engagement as “turning on a prospect to a brand idea enhanced by the surrounding context.” In the context of MySpace user profiles, a brand takes on a different meaning and significance than it would if it appeared just on marketer profiles in a social networking site. The ARF is conducting ongoing research on engagement; this can be found at
 (17)Marketing Evolution found that the “momentum effect” results — the number of people affected by downloadable brand elements on a user’s page — were significant. More than 4 million people said that they “definitely will buy” Adidas or EA products primarily because of exposure to the brand via word-of-mouth elements like viewing the brand on a user’s page or hearing about it from a friend. The authors of the study admitted that additional work needs to be done to fully understand the value of increased purchase intent within SNS, particularly if increased intent results in increased sales.
 (18)Forrester’s NACTAS Q4 2006 Youth Media & Marketing And Finance Online Study found that 19% of youth agreed with the statement “I have learned about products I didn’t know about on social network sites.” But among daily youth social network users, the percent that agreed with that statement increased to 24%. See the June 21, 2007, “How Consumers Use Social Networks” report.
 (21)Using Social Media to Listen to Consumer, Ad Age, March 30, 2009
 (25)Forrester’s research on 19 brands that have had success with communities will help the interactive marketer to understand how to deal with members and detractors and establish an internal program. See the

February 13, 2008, “Online Community Best Practices” report.

 (27)Forrester Report. Marketing On Social Networking Sites. September 2007. p. 10
 (28)Learn more about hiring, managing, and paying community managers and Social Computing strategists.

See the February 28, 2008, “How To Staff For Social Computing” report. To learn more about social network marketing, visit the Web strategy blog and review content tagged social networks (http://www.webstrategist. com/blog/category/social-networking/).

 (29)Forrester Report. Marketing On Social Networking Sites. September 2007. p. 9
 (30)Scott, David M. The New Rules of Marketing & PR. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2010. p. 179
 (33)Lerone Banks. Leveraging Social Relationships for Improved Internet Applications. October 2009
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