Thursday, October 6, 2011

Everybody Loves the Social Network

- Ruchi Junnarkar

Ra.One’s exclusive page on Youtube is just the tip of the marketing behemoth that Social Media Marketing is today. Brands today are increasingly advertising themselves via social websites, almost forgetting the more ‘conventional’ forms of communication such as the television and print media for this basic reason – the whole world and their dog is on Facebook.

Any interactive website that allows you to share an opinion or communicate a message online would be a part of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, Google+ and so on. Why is this so important in terms of marketing? Well, it narrows down your consumer base to a specific selection and also ensures that everyone online gets the message, making your brand unforgettable and, in some cases, un-ignorable.

Those on Twitter are already aware of the phenomenon of celebrities selling themselves as brands on the website to a horde of loyal fans, dying to read about, daily, each mundane activity in the life of their favorite star. This gives celebrities a chance to endorse their movies, music albums, new clothing line or the suddenly emerging opinions on world issues, giving their fans a chance to connect with their ‘real’ selves and creating an illusion of caring. Similarly, music artists can disseminate more information regarding concerts, album release dates and their personal lives, almost acting as their own paparazzi. Brands and products followed by members allow the scope of a consumer forum wherein one can discuss or criticize innovations brought out by leading brands, thus giving them direct feedback on a level that has not been experienced before.

Facebook, on the other hand, is a little more exclusive. One needs to ‘like’ a page or wait for a friend request to be accepted, though, one can now ‘follow’ celebrities as well as a newly added feature. Facebook, apart from the aforementioned pros of social networking, also allows advertisements to be displayed on the margins of its pages, and brings in the scope of brands adding schemes and encouraging consumers to like their pages in order to receive discounts or free products (such as Dominoes). Another major aspect in terms of advertising on social networking sites is that it provides advertisers with a tailor-made audience for their brands. Facebook allows advertisers to choose the social profile of its target audience and filters advertisements specifically to this chosen audience allowing communication with target audiences like never before.

As a comment on society though, the fact that corporate are relying so heavily on social network marketing goes to show how dependant consumers have become on the virtual world, going so far as to install social networking websites on their cellular phones. There are various products that market themselves on the basis of the fact that they can use social networking as a part of their many features, a statement that is exemplified by Vodafone’s advertisement for the new cellular phone called Vodafone Blue, depicting a man who is ‘always on facebook’.
With almost the entire world relying on social networking, the scope for global marketing is much larger as one can use standardized methods of marketing to establish a constant brand image throughout the world. The phenomenon of globalization not only in terms of markets but also in terms of culture is entering a whole new dimension with social media.

I don’t know how long social media is going to remain such a dominant phenomenon. But as of now, consumers, marketers, celebrities, you and I – everyone loves the social network. 

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