Social Media: A Market Research Platform

Posted: February 1, 2011 in Com 125 (b) Intro to internet

“An examination of the various Social Medias’ and its impact on market research”

1. Social networking sites

Social networking site is a website that allows people to share information about them, and to search for others for the purpose of giving information, receiving information, or forming beneficial relationships.  With profiles as the primary structure, social networking sites enable participants to connect with others who are part of a vast web of relationships. Moreover it also allows people with a common interest or concern to come together to meet people with similar interests, express themselves, and vent. The three most popular sites are MySpace, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Marketing Research implications for Social Networking sites


Ø  For instances, companies are getting their brands in front of audiences through fun applications that work with social networks. SuperPoke is an application that lets Facebook friends give each other, a little online poke (or some other animated action). Estee Lauder recently sponsored a SuperPoke that squirted virtual perfume at the recipient. It didn’t have or need a big marketing messenger, what it did have was a fun association with the brand.  More and more companies are creating business presence using Facebook Pages, interacting and communicating with current and potential users, and allow users to become fans and connect with that brand.

Ø  As of Aug. 2009, 40% of Fortune 100 companies are using LinkedIn Talent Advantage recruiting solutions to source and hire candidates. Companies such as Kraft (consumer products), Intuit (software), and ConAgra (food & beverage) are sourcing passive talent directly using LinkedIn Recruiter.

Ø  Michael Homes, owner of rm3mnant.com, sells rock-and-roll inspired clothing through online retail store. He admits he owes a lot of his success to his marketing efforts on MySpace. During the planning stages for his business, he quickly identified MySpace as a critical form for promotion because it included such a large amount of his demographic.

2. Photo Sharing

An image hosting and video hosting website and online community. In addition to being a popular website for users to share and embed personal photographs, the service is widely used by bloggers to host images that they embed in blogs and social media. The more popular photo-sharing sites include Flickr and Snapfish

Marketing Research implications for Social Networking sites

The integration of Flickr photos in conjunction with Yahoo and Google Image search gives companies a powerful tool for promoting their product content. All of these sources direct visitors to individual photo pages and each of them can be funnelled to the company’s website thus creating brand awareness.

Ø  By forming a group on Flickr, companies encourage customers to participate and socialize with the company and other customers by uploading and sharing their own images of the company’s products and comment on images already posted.  Many amateur and professional photographers use Flickr to showcase their work in return for constructive criticisms from others. Being able to interact with each other will give customers a method for sharing experiences with the companies’ products and connecting with the company on a new level.

3. Sharing ideas through blogs

Blogger.com is perhaps the most commonly known blog. It is simply an individual’s online journal that he makes public for all to see, inviting responsive comments from his readers (critiques, feedbacks, praises etc.) The primary purpose of a blog is for the blogger to share his or her views, post images, and links to other web pages or sites, it also allows for everyone to publish and to participate in multithreaded conversations online.

Marketing Research implication for Blogs

Large organizations also use blogs to communicate to their customers, establishing a point of view and shaping the brand they desire (external use).

Ø  Blogs are also commonly used inside the organization, an opportunity to reach employees with a more personal touch. A blog carries a much more collegial tone than an e-mail blast addressed to the masses. Inside organizations blogs are useful for sharing views of executive leaders, project leaders, key influences, experts, or group representatives. A blog can also be an effective learning tool: training participants can blog their analyses of a strategic problem.

Ø  When Edelman public relations (Edelman bloggers-and business survey) asked “When looking for product information, which do you trust more?” almost 63 percent of the blogger respondents cited “other bloggers” (Webber, 2009). These results confirm the assumption that bloggers are a community bound together by trust. This affinity creates an environment in which one blogger is able to influence many others, leading to vigorous discussion and other occasional swarm.

4.     Micro-blogging

With micro-blogging sites like Twitter, users can join in on the ongoing conversation by posting updates about new products, industry news, company awards and other things of note. The micro blogging site Twitter, where user posts “tweets” of 140 characters at a time, which answers the question “What are you doing”. This message goes to the cell phones or computers of those who choose to receive your updates.

Marketing Research implication for Micro-blogging

Ø  Lenovo’s web-marketing vice president says

I use Twitter to monitor tweets about our brand-looking for people having a tough time with our products. I also see a lot of opportunity to sell through Twitter, and I expect we’ll open a ‘deal’ channel there soon (Webber, 2009).

Twitter enables users to keep in touch with their friends or with others whom they find interested. Users can search for particular people and choose to “follow them” by receiving their tweets either on their cell phones or at their computers.  The power of microblogging also lies in its ubiquitousness.

Ø  The CEO and employees of Zappos, an online clothing retailer, regularly post tweets about what they are doing and use Twitter to answer customer inquiries. Simiarly United Airlines found a new way to use Twitter to reward customers and fill empty seats. In May, the Chicago-based airline began offering a limited number of Twitter-exclusive fare deals, or “twares,” to domestic and international destinations. The last-minute specials are sent out once or twice a week and typically expire within one or two hours. Most sell out in seconds, a United spokeswoman says,

We want to give our followers something special that no one else can get,” she says, while allowing the airline to fill seats that might otherwise go unoccupied (Kumar, 2010).

5.      Social Bookmarking

Bookmark links provide use the ease to go back and review sites when we need to revisit information in an article or video. Instead of saving bookmarks to a computer, social bookmarking services like Delicious and Digg allow people to save bookmarks to the web so that they can be accessed from any computer or smart phone. Since bookmarks are posted on the web they can be either public or private. When bookmarks are public on the web, they can be social. Social bookmarking sites allow you to browse through the items based popularity, recently added, or belonging to a certain category like shopping, technology etc. Many blogposts, podcasts, YouTube videos, and other online media outlets, you can see “Digg This” at the end of the posting.

Marketing Research implication for Social Bookmarking

For marketers, social bookmarking is more than just a way for users to store, classify, share and search their sites – if used correctly it’s a way to drive traffic and fuel a viral campaign.

Ø  For example HP and IBM are ahead of the game and have already adopted Social Bookmarking in their marketing programs. HP has even created their own widget to encourage users to bookmark their sites. IBM is also using Social Bookmarking links as a way to encourage users to ‘tag’ them. These bookmarks hold great value to the companies because it provides some indication of its value, and popularity amongst customers.  Moreover it also gives the company a chance to see how it is fairing with its competitors, and then take a look at their site and see what links people are saving.  Social bookmarking sites also track the links each user accesses, hence companies can use this information to understand the demographics of those who visit their site.  This data will show if they are reaching their target market.  This in turn means additional promotional opportunities the companies brand by being able to better target people who will be interested in your product/service.

6.     Video Sharing

Similar to photo sharing, users upload video content to a site for sharing either privately or public. One of the most popular websites on the Internet, YouTube is the go-to source for millions of users for videos of everything. YouTube provides a forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe.  Youtube also have features that allow viewers to browse videos based on channel and popularity and rate videos by giving them from one to five stars

Market Research implication for video sharing

According to Jeremy Allaire, the CEO of Brightcove, a software service company,

Marketers are trying to increase the quality of the experiences visitors have on their marketing sites, and video is becoming a really important part of that-video is a great way to express a brand. They can provide a deep exploration of the product and can have a lot of educational content. Video is format that consumers understand and like; so many marketers are investing in more and more video as a way to increase the odds that a consumer takes an interest in their product” (Weber, 2009).

Moreover marketers can also have a better understanding and insight to how customers think about their videos, competitor’s videos by seeing popularity, ratings, and comments on various videos.  All these are essential feedbacks that marketers can use to their advantage to launch a better product, improve their advertisement strategy, and further increase brand awareness.

Sources:

http://www.slideshare.net/stevelatham/business-case-for-social-media-steve-latham-20080725nc

http://www.slideshare.net/helloviking/marketing-social-media

Weber, L. (2009). Marketing to the social web: How digital customer communities build your business. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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