Press Release Summary = It is an undisputed fact that social networking sites (SNS) like MySpace and FaceBook are growing at an alarming rate.
Press Release Body = In fact, according to Forrester Research, 69% of young adults between the ages 18 to 21 years old, 47% of teenagers, and 20% of all adults have a profile on a social networking website. With these types of numbers, it is understandable that businesses want to reach out to the audiences that frequent these sites. According to Forrester Research, SNS users want to "engage" or be" friends" with their favorite brands. Not so surprisingly, the Generation Y audience is more likely to "friend" their favorite brands than adult users of social networking sites. More specifically, Forrester states that one third of Gen Y users are interested in viewing marketer's profiles, whereas almost half of adult users say that they would be interested in viewing a marketer's profile.
That said, users who do befriend a brand do so simply because they have a particular affinity or loyalty to a specific brand. For instance, the movie, X-Men: The Last Stand, befriended more than 2 million users on MySpace.
What Elements Have the Most Marketing Value on Social Networking Sites?
To maximize the marketing impact of social networking campaigns, research from eMarketer.com suggests that viral downloadable elements achieve the best results bar none. Users often view these downloadable elements on their friends' profiles, and they in turn decide to download this particular element as well.
This statement is backed up by hard facts of course - a Marketing Evolution study discovered that over 70% of the marketing value of SNS campaigns derived from "the momentum effect" of the viral impact these types of campaigns inherently possess.
Along similar lines, according to information from Microsoft, 64% or two-thirds of Europeans, when surveyed, stated that they visited a website because a friend linked to it on a social networking profile. Furthermore, 37% of these European users (or one-third) went to a search engine to obtain further information on a friend's recommendation and 24% or about one-quarter of these users forwarded the link or recommendation to a friend. In the UK and Italy, the numbers increased - 35% and 34% of users forwarded these links based on their friend's recommendation in their profiles.
What Must a Brand Do to Effectively Market on SNS Sites?
First off, according to eMarketer.com, the brand must inspire communication or action to the end-user. Thus, a brand that users will feel passionate about tends to fare better than one that does not invoke emotion in users. Second, it is vital to have a clear objective when marketing on SNS sites. Emarketer.com states that utilizing social networking sites in an effort to encourage brand loyalty or retention is an effective strategy on these sites. Companies should ensure that it is simple for users to join a particular brand's social network - if there are a number of fields to fill out, consumers will join at a much slower rate. In cases where people are less inclined to feel passionate about a certain brand, incentives or awards may have to be in place to encourage engagement with a particular brand. In the situation where brands have profiles on multiple sites, it is imperative that companies market their brand effectively on each site. For instance, Pontiac has a Pontiac Underground site on Yahoo!, but on MySpace, Pontiac caters to a younger audience with its "Friends with Benefits" campaign. Thus, businesses should tailor their campaigns to include social networking sites - after all, they are not going away anytime soon and these sites are revolutionizing the way users engage with the Internet.