Social networks are complex mechanisms. Millions of people in the world use them to communicate with friends and relatives, and also to search for information. It is quite an interesting phenomenon both for users and advertisers. All the profile data out there provides an unique compilation of consumer interests and allows advertisers to successfully place publicity using this insightful information.
In Moldova, the picture of social network users looks like this: of the 57% of citizens who have internet access: 88% are registered on Odnoklassniki.ru, 27% on Faces.md, while Facebook.com and Vkontacte.ru claimed each 19% of users. The data was collected from the research Magenta National Screening, carried out on a sample of 1400 respondents, from 24 urban communities of the country.
While for the simple users, social networks provide some dose of fun and pleasant leisure time, an alternative to the everyday reality, in which direct advertising keeps hunting us around every corner, not always arousing the most positive emotions, then for marketers, these networks provide platforms for growth and development.
And now, let’s cover a little theory. The idea from which we started is known as the "viral marketing" strategy, adapted to other dimensions. According to the definition viral marketing is “a marketing technique, which makes use of existing social networks to raise consumers’ awareness of a specific brand, product or service. The information sharing is done in a viral way, meaning that the user (either a member of a social network or the initial receiver of the information) spreads the message among his circle of contacts; afterwards, his friends pass the information further. During this process, information sharing is perceived more as something fun, rather than advertising. The analogy with the virus is simple: the user “infects” his first contacts, which at their turn pass the information further; only this time instead of 1 distributor, there are 10-15 people. Viral marketing makes use of humankind’s oldest habit - sharing the information with other people. The essence of viral marketing lies in that users distribute the piece of information willingly, because they find it interesting to share. Information spreading though viral marketing can take the most diverse forms – videos, photos, flash-games, even texts (such as jokes)” (Wikipedia.org).
But not everything is as simple as it looks; things have their subtleties. Tom Smith, researcher at the Universal McCann marketing agency, says about social networks that “companies should try to avoid traditional advertising banners, as they work well only on websites with professional content. Social networks require placing such content that may be somehow forwarded to other people, which could be commented etc; this content should create a platform for interaction. Moreover, advertising campaigns need to be on long term, instead of ad-hoc and on short term.”
Advertising must match perfectly the content and the services provided by the social network. Moreover, successful advertising projects are those adjusted geographically or those adapted to individual specifications of the audience.
Social networks can provide advertisers with stable income, if one learns how to exploit their opportunities wisely. Advertisers are comfortable working within social networks, because they have the opportunity to study users profiles, their interests, and then form a database of the public, based on which they will be able to aim properly the target. The most common mean of sharing information within social networks is the recommendation. One user makes a friendly recommendation to another user about a product or service, the second person receiving the information spreads it further and so on, like in a chain.
We already know that social networks represent a fine subject, which requires a special approach.. Advertising existed ever since social networks were invented, but it always has been working “undercover”, through communities and group discussions. Some themed communities gather people based on their interests, while in other networks the groups tend to be more personalized, that is, users don’t necessarily discuss around a certain common topic, but rather around the person who initiates the discussion within the community. The trust within social networks, built over a long period of time, can easily be destroyed, that is why one needs to act very carefully.
An important aspect of the marketing hidden within social networks is the talent of the advertiser. If it is intended to be successful in the social network marketing, then it’s necessary to create a truly interesting content, in order to attract the attention of the consumer (the content could be either created by the advertiser or with the help of consumers). The audience has to be interested; otherwise nobody will ever notice the company or product. Social networks were built for fun; therefore it is needed to always entertain your audience.
We all know that the best teacher is practice. But when speaking about advertising on social networks, it is a far better idea to learn from other people’s mistakes, trying to avoid as much as possible making your own. In the end, this market rarely provides advertisers second chances.