Over the past few years, social networking sites enabled by Web 2.0 technologies have dramatically changed the way we use the Internet. What was once a one-way connection has transformed into a dynamic connective medium, allowing users to share a wide range of content including blogs, photos, videos, and much more social media marketing.
Yet how have social networking sites like Facebook changed the way online marketers advertise online? For one, they’ve made our jobs much easier. Facebook is the ideal medium for advertising within an environment that’s viral by nature. These online social directories use an interactive format that allows users to create a personal profile, connect to other users, and share content.
In a sense, these users have already effectively segmented themselves, coming together through like interest groups and connecting through content. These behaviors, which are inherent to social media and enabled by Web 2.0, create valuable networks of targeted and specific demographic groups. Now more than ever, the “Net Generation” is becoming involved in social media and presenting online marketers with the chance to market to predefined segments of online users, positioning branded messages on sites where these users spend time online.
Moreover, these social networking sites are growing at an exponential rate, adding more and more users from more diverse backgrounds. Initially, Facebook was created only for college students, but last year, it was opened to anyone with an email address. According to Microsoft, Facebook is the sixth most trafficked site in the U.S., and now has over 73 million registered users in 40,000 different collegiate, high school, work-related, and geographic networks. This represents a 530% growth rate over one year alone.
The tactic through which advertisers communicate with these segmented online audiences is known as Social Media Marketing (SMM). SMM has become a popular tool for search engine optimization (SEO) thanks to its unique ability to improve website visibility, name recognition, and brand awareness among specific online audiences through the acquisition of a network of relevant links.
So what opportunities does Facebook present for targeted online marketing efforts? Among Internet users ages 18-24, Facebook placed first on the list of favorite sites in Youth Trends most recent survey. Over 70% of females ages 17-25 indicated that Facebook was their favorite site in terms of time spent online. For males, this figure was still a powerful 56%. These demographic is clearly technology-driven, thanks to their growing up in a culture that considers time online an integral aspect of daily life. More than half of those surveyed visited Facebook at least once a day, logging an average of 35 minutes on the site.
Furthermore, these users are familiar with online environments and are adept at seeking out and finding specific pieces of content they’re interested in. Thus, social networking sites, especially Facebook, present online marketers with the opportunity to engage users with advertising messages at critical moments of relevance.
So how can we utilize social media marketing to effectively engage these elusive audiences of young adults? Below are several ideas on how to utilize social media marketing on Facebook.
- Connect Through Groups: Facebook has an infinite number of shared interest groups which users join for a myriad of reasons. These groups cover an unlimited number of subjects and interests, from marine biology to snowboarding to politics to rap music to Italian food. No matter what your interest or target market, there is a group for you. Take it from me. I’ve been a registered Facebook user, or “Facebooker” since 2003, and I’ve seen a group for everything, literally. Many even have a local focus, like Denver Broncos fan groups or Denver Chinese Students Group. Each of these groups has its own page with a forum, discussion board, photo gallery, etc. This is the best place to position messages meant for specific niche audiences, as you’re almost guaranteed everyone who sees it fits your target profile. In the past, when I was trying to drive traffic to a video site I was working for, I placed descriptive and enticing links to relevant videos on the group’s “wall,” or discussion board. I saw great results as many of the members of this particular group, which was devoted to skiing, followed these links to watch videos about their favorite sport, skiing.
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