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Do social networks have the power to influence what we buy? Do people actually turn to social media sites for guidance on products or services? If the answer to either of these questions is NO, should businesses ignore the social networks as a viable marketing channel? The answer to that last question is ‘absolutely not’.
I recently read a report conducted by Knowledge Networks and found the information both interesting and ridiculous at the same time. Here are some of the “highlights” from the report that I found interesting:
The report continued by indentifying how social networks are used by their loyal followers for guidance on making purchases. Here are some of the “highlights” from the report I found ridiculous:
I won’t list the other 8 categories (all the stats were lower than the 4% for travel) but the overall message from the report was that people spend time on social networks for many reasons…the least of which is to get guidance on buying products and services. That sounds a lot like television and radio to me. I do not know a single person who says, “Hmmm, I need to turn on the TV so I can watch the commercials and get some help buying my next car”. In addition, I do not know a single person who turns on their radio while driving home from work, so they can switch off the songs to find radio commercials in order to help them buy their kids next birthday present!
The premise that people do not use social networks, like Facebook or MySpace, for guidance on purchasing decisions is ridiculous…of course they don’t (well 96% or so do not). They visit and spend time on social networks to be entertained, and that’s the same reason people turn on their TV at home or their car radio during a long drive. But TV and radio can be powerful advertising mediums because you can reach a large (and somewhat targeted) audience. The same applies to advertising on social media sites…you can reach a large and highly targeted audience to promote your message, product, or service. The notion that people don’t “turn to” social media sites for purchasing decisions should not stop you from marketing to this large, targeted audience…it works for TV and radio…and can work for social media networks as well. Add Google Analytics into your marketing program and you can track how well these social network sites perform in terms of driving quality visitors to your site. This is something TV and radio advertising cannot provide as a measurement of success (yet I still see and hear commercials on TV and radio all the time, interesting).
YouTube has undergone massive changes in the past few months. One major change is the move toward concentrating on advertisers and partners. YouTube has discovered how to better monetize their site by adding features to help brands, big and small, with their marketing initiatives. In an effort to reach that segment of its users, YouTube launched the YouTube Biz Blog.
YouTube Biz Blog is targeted specifically for partners and advertisers and provides tips, tricks and the latest feature updates. The forum was designed to introduce business opportunities to advertisers and partners. By showing businesses how to leverage YouTube, the video giant hopes to help businesses engage their audiences more.
There have already been a few blog posts on topics such as the integration with YouTube Brand Channels and Google Analytics, YouTube Partner Program, and Mosaics. Partners also have the option to subscribe to the RSS feed so they are always kept up to date.
With businesses still trying to discover ways to use social media to build brand awareness and boost their bottom lines, the YouTube Biz Blog is another tool in getting helpful ideas designed solely for advertisers and YouTube partners.
Have you ever been in a good conversation with someone and been interrupted by a dumb comment from a by passer? They had no idea how the conversation came up, but they felt the need to give their opinion and try to influence you one way or the other. You probably thought that the by passer wasn’t too bright. They could have at least listened for a few minutes before commenting. It’s the same way with social media. As a business owner, if you try to jump on social media sites without a plan, just because someone said you should be there- you might get the same response.
Although, there are many social media sites on the internet and more being created every day, one should know they can’t all be approached the same way. For example: if you have a Twitter account, you’re limited to 140 characters for your tweet. So obliviously, you don’t want to try to type in the company bio in one tweet. A company that uses Twitter well is Zappos. They’ve been able to relate to customers on a social level just by their president tweeting about his daily activities. On Facebook, the story is different. For example: Morevisibility has a Facebook page that posts recent blogs and videos. In the realm of Facebook, a company can present their bio information, mission statement etc., without seeming intrusive to fans.
Whenever, a company is looking to get on a social media site, it must evaluate why. Are they doing this because it’s the latest craze or is their a method to their madness? Each social site is different and has to be evaluated individually. If a company attempts to join a social media site without a strategy, it could backfire. Just like a company employs a strategy to reach its target audience in their advertising; a strategy should also be implemented to reach people on social sites. A key note to remember is that social media is about socializing. On most social sites, your job isn’t to be a salesperson; your job is to be a friend. The best way to do well on a social media site is to learn about the site and it’s “socialites”. Just like Mr. T would say “I pity the fool that doesn’t have a social media plan.”