Social Network Marketplace

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The Social Network Marketplace


Tanya Gaylord



Since the first social networking site, launched in 1997, there has been a boom in social networking sites (Boyd, Ellison). The most popular of those sites are currently Myspace and Facebook, with more than 200 million active users each. Many of these sites are free and fairly easy to use. The popularity of these sites has created a rush for marketing, and many businesses are finding new and creative ways to use these sites to advertise. Social Networking sites are transforming way businesses and customers interact.

Social networking sites are not entirely new, but their popularity is exploding. Due to their new popularity, social networking sites generate tons and tons of visibility for a business. Even better than the visibility is the fact that it is all for free. Anyone can join a social networking site for free, even businesses. Once you are a member, you have access to blogs, bulletin boards, and friends. All of these things can be, and will be viewed by potential customers. For instance, Myspace has made it easy for people to post videos that anyone who is a member of Myspace can view, all for free. Many companies have taken advantage of this application to attract potential customers. A wedding videographer from Michigan created a pre-release movie for his clients wedding video, which brought lots of publicity to his business (Yankee). Myspace has a very strong connection with the music industry as well. When Colbie Caillat signed up for Myspace in 2005 she was an unknown, unsigned artist. Suddenly her song “Bubbly��? had reached two million plays, and soon after she was signed by Universal Republic Records (Mansfield). When someone would hear her song on another persons page, they were able to track her music down with just a click of a mouse button.  However, just because it’s free, and has made some people very popular, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Now that companies are armed with this new realm of advertisement, they need to be careful how they use it. Social networking sites dramatically change how a business can, or should advertise. What was once an in your face, bombardment type of strategy, advertising on social networks has changed drastically. Successful marketing is personalized, casual, and unique. Many large companies have created ways of getting people to come to them, instead of the company going after the consumer. Papa Johns did this by offering a coupon for a free pizza to anyone who became of fan of Papa Johns on Facebook (Papa Johns) . Target found a way to draw customers as well. They created personality tests for Facebook users that would then direct them to a product at Target that fit the users’ personalities (Lindell). People on social networking sites are there to link up with people and share with them, they do not want to be barraged with impersonal advertisements. In fact, Facebook has even invested heavily in the prevention of Spam (unsolicited bulk messages) to keep advertisers from this practice (Smith).

A big crack down on spam has forced marketers to engage in more personal relationships with consumers. Once a business has friends, which are mostly made up of customers, or fans of a business’s product, they can interact with them. A business can go onto a customer’s home page, and leave a personal message or a meaningful response to a blog posting. The local Duluth business W-Trek even posts music that they think their customer might like on Myspace. I’ve been friends with W-Trek on Myspace for a few months now. Nodin Morgenstern, part owner of W-Trek, has been using Myspace for over two years. On his page you can find the history of his company, as well as personal info about himself. When I was looking for ice climbing equipment over the winter, I was able to go directly to W-treks Myspace, and start a one on one conversation directly with the owner. W-Trek shows how the line between customers and business has changed with these kinds of sites.

Although Myspace allows someone to be “friends��? with a company, Facebook has tweaked idea and allowed someone to simply be a fan of something. You can be a fan of Nike without having to become “friends��? with them. When one marketing company set out to ask Facebook users why they friended or became a fan of a certain brand, they found those users had a personal affinity with the brands (Li, 6). Once a users is promoting their brand choices, their friends will take notice. Facebook will broadcast who or what your friends are a fan of, and then give you the option to become a fan, too.

Word of mouth advertising has always been a popular concept, networking sites use this concept in a whole new way. A study in 2004 showed that a recommendation from others carries significantly more credibility to a consumer than any visual advertisement alone (Osterberg). When a user promotes a company they like, their friends are more likely to investigate a product than they would be if they had simply seen an ad on television. Additionally, the traditional way of word of mouth advertising was limited to face to face, or small groups of people at a time. For instance, the Vector company is a company that sells expensive steak knives through word of mouth and networking. Every summer they hire college kids and send them out to make appointments and sell knives. They do not advertise, you cannot buy them online and you cannot find Vector’s Cutco knives at any store. They rely on word of mouth and social networking to do their advertising for them. There are thousands of companies who market this way, Facebook and Myspace are revolutionizing the way they can do that.

As the popularity of social networking sites grow one down fall to the social network marketing hype is that new sites are always popping up. When Facebook began gaining popularity, it stole millions of users away from Myspace. This leaves companies who put a lot of resources into one or two sites vulnerable to being left behind for the next big thing. Facebook is constantly fearing the next site that will do to them, what they did to Myspace. This forces both marketers, and the sites themselves to be innovative. Users are being introduced to more and more creative ideas. Both companies and networking sites have collaborated to bring new ideas forward in order to stay relevant. For instance the company Kaplan, which is a test preparation company, has teamed up with Facebook to create a virtual “smash wall��?. The application allows users to throw virtual objects at a virtual brick wall in order to relieve stress while studying for a test (Stevens). This is just an example of a company creating an application for facebook, in order to draw attention to themselves. Many users will notice these sites constantly striving to make their sites the best, with the best applications.

Some people argue that advertising on social networking sites is no longer innovative. People are always looking to the future and there is always something new on the horizon. Even so, whether it is innovative or not, you cannot argue the effectiveness of this kind of marketing. The average Facebook user spends an average of at least twenty one minutes per day on the site (Joel). While on these sites, they are bombarded with advertisement in one form or another.  The truth is, no one really knows what the next innovative thing is until its successful. For now, social networking sites are still it.

Regardless of how big or small a company is, social network sites can level out the playing field when it comes to marketing. Anyone with a business to promote can do it in new and creative ways on the internet. Marketers have to continually be cutting edge and fresh to keep up with so many competitors. There is such accessibility to consumers through the internet, businesses have a whole new way to get their product out there. As long as there are social networking sites, there will be advertisers strategizing on how best to use them. This is how businesses are changing the way they interact with the consumer.



Works Cited

boyd, d. m., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 11.

Joel, Mitch. “Facebook Facts That Will Blow Your Marketing Mind.” Six Parcels of Seperation 26 OCT 2007 Web.17 Apr 2009.


Li, Charlene. “Marketing on Social Networkig sites.” Interactive Marketing Proffesionals (2007): 1-14. Print.

Lindell, Crystal. “Social networking sites offer free marketing.” Buisiness Journal (2009): 1.

Mansfield Brian. “22 million clicks later, MySpace launches a star.” USA Today (OCT 2007.).

Osterberg, Lori. “Why online word of mouth advertising is so powerful.” Denver Business Jounal (2005)

“PAPA JOHN’S FINDS NEW FACEBOOK FANS BY DANGLING FREE PIZZA.” Brandweek 50.10 (09 Mar. 2009): 6-006.

Smith, Justin. “The Facebook Marketing Bible: 24 Ways to Market Your Brand, Company, Product, or Service Inside Facebook.” Inside Facebook 09 DEC 2009 Web.13 Apr 2009.

Stevens, Tim. “Wired”. 02 APR 2009 < wall/>.

W-Treck, Myspace 20 MAY 2009 Web.27 Apr 2009. <>.

Yankee, Steve. “marketing with SOCIAL NETWORKING sites.” EventDV 22.3 (Mar. 2009): 8-8.