When you are looking at social media marketing opportunities, there are two distinct directions that you can choose. You can build a social network for your customers or you can go to where they already exist. The former option has a lot of risk. Companies who are capable of successfully creating their own social network are few and far between and it's an expensive endeavor.
For the rest of the companies out there, the smart move is to go to where your customers already exist. This includes sites like MySpace, Bebo, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, etc. The communities are already formed, people are comfortable there, connections have been made, conversations have been started and new users are jumping on board every day.
Most discussions about social networking lead to the big two. MySpace vs. Facebook. Up until last week Myspace had the lead in most every regard. They have more companies involved in marketing to their members, more ads (LOTS more ads), marketing integration was more open and, most importantly, they have a larger volume users. But Facebook is growing fast (24 million active users growing by more than 100,000 new users every week) and last weeks announcement at their f8 conference should have marketers sitting up to take notice.
The Facebook Platform opens up the network like never before (Mashable has great archived coverage). Deep integration allows marketers the same level of engagement as tools that are developed by Facebook themselves. There are over ten points that marketers can connect with including profile-level integration, emails, mini-feeds, photos, notes and events.
Before now, the member profile pages have been off limits to outside parties. Connecting to the profile level allows direct messaging on the most trafficked area of the site and has unique messaging ability from member-to-member to drive viral conversations. The launch of this platform firmly propels Facebook past Myspace from a marketing integration perspective.
How to think about engaging users on Facebook:
- Provide value to the community first
- Use the power of the network
- Make it social, share and learn
- Think beyond banner ads
- Think rich media
Facebook is handing over the keys to marketers and allowing for experimentation and innovation. Using the same old, tired marketing tactics on new platforms like this will backfire so be careful. The same audience that could propel you to greatness and market share could crush you if you deliver off-target, low value, short sighted opportunities.
For marketers who are willing to step up to the plate, respect the community and put its value above themselves, the possibilities are unlimited. Myspace better wake up or this could create a big shift in marketing dollars.
I'm going to post a more extensive follow up to this post looking under the hood of Facebook and MySpace from a marketing perspective so stay tuned. If you have questions about Facebook or any other social network please let me know in the comments or through email and I'll address them.
Statistics and general information on Facebook: