Can advertisers/marketers make money in a social networking environment? That is the real question.
Forrester reports about 30 percent of social networking site users embrace a brand so that they could become eligible for freebies,exclusive offers, events or sales or because another friend recommended it. Forrester gave this type of social consumer reaction as “friendonomics.” Granted it greatly helped the brand if they(the users) had some clue about what the brand was all about prior to befriending it, but it wasn’t a complete deal killer.
With that being said in regards to having a clue about the brand, Forrester states, Gen Y users “show the greatest interest, with 37% saying they would be interested in seeing marketer profiles on social networking sites. Gen X isn’t far behind, with 31% showing interest.”
What appears to work though and is gaining some traction, is the creation of widgets or apps on Facebook. If you use Facebook, you no doubt have noticed the plethora of new apps that have appeared over the past few months. These apps, created by marketers for instance, give some legs and visibility to brands, new products and sites that are looking for traffic and eyeballs.
Back in August of 2007, Google filed another patent for “user-distributed advertisements” (UDA) whereby the UDA system “facilitates insertion of manually selected ads into a document that is to be distributed (e.g., transmitted, published, and/or posted) such that the document is to be made available to other users.”
The document explains why it’s a good idea: “Although advertising systems such as AdWords and AdSense have proven to be very effective tools for advertisers to reach a receptive audience, even automated systems that use sophisticated targeting techniques often can’t match the effectiveness of manual targeting. However, manual targeting techniques don’t scale well. Therefore, it would be useful to provide a scaleable advertising system that achieves at least some of the benefits of manual targeting. It would also be useful to provide a system of charges and/or rewards to encourage useful manual targeting of ads. Further, it would also be useful to track and use performance metrics of such ads if doing so would help an advertising system serve ads that are more useful. Finally, it would be useful to provide data structures and interfaces for enabling advertisers to participate in a system for manual insertion of ads into a document for distribution.”
Long story short is that Google wants to figure out a way for its users to be worker Bees that essentially spread or carry advertising. What better way then to incentivize every possible action that someone does while online. So I send you an email and I go ahead and drop a couple of Adsense bombs in the body of the email and off you go to make us both money. All of a sudden it does pay to advetise via email again and the more viral the better!
The problem with trying to tie together advertising for instance, and social media is that to most and we’ll use direct response, is that DR advertisers, are going to look at specific measurable results which essentially will tell them if it’s a) worth it and b) should they test again. the problem with social networking sites and advertising, at least right now is that the results of advertisers are not yet quantifiable or measurable to a degree of their liking. There is too much grey area.
It’s grey because Social media is about engaging the prospect, befriending the prospect and winning the prospects trust instead of vomiting the information(makes for a great visual doesn’t it?) and the pitch, all over them. And if you don’t think is true, go ahead and try it and let us know what type of experience you have.
Essentially the whole social media experience as it pertains to direct response is more about marketing than it is about advertising. And to that end traditional online or offline advertising will not work in this environment anyways. So don’t bother.