I wrote this article back in 2007, when my e-marketing professor introduced the term social media to the class. After that class, I decided that my job title was going to be Social Media Marketing Strategist – I was not longer a simple marketer, I had a cooler name.  Even though, this post is outdated, it has a sentimental value so let’s see how I saw social media back in 2007.

Social marketing media (SMM) is one of the most recent online marketing tools employed by marketers to build, maintain and boost customer relationships. SMM focuses on building emotional connections with people. As a consequence, marketers want to take advantage of this trend by developing social networking sites.

Excellent example of social networking sites includes Youtube.com, Myspace.com and Facebook.com. These websites have witnessed meteoric rise in their visitor base, popularity and financial value. In this blog, I intent to identify what is the success of these sites, their business models, key success factors and their value proposition. I also describe feasible marketing strategies to be developed by companies to boost customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The Introduction – Business Model

YouTube.com, MySpace.com, Facebook.com and any other virtual communities’ business models are a combination of metamarket switchboard model and freshest information model; although these companies are redesigning their online business models by moving towards a most personalized approach in order to keep pace with market and industry practices.

Upcoming online social communities will be about producing it yourself.

For instance, “Youtube.com is pursuing advertising as its business model, and is exploring a range of possibilities including promotions, sponsorships, contextual-based advertising, traditional banner advertising, etc.”

Facebook business model is based on advertising; the company has three means of generating revenue. Local text ads (from the college and local businesses), running at $15-20 per day, Traditional banner ads, sold on a national basis and sponsored groups including Apple, EA, etc.

Although, MySpace generates its revenue mainly through banner advertisements, MySpace has taken on selling its members’ profile information to third parties. As stated in the website’s privacy policy: “MySpace.com collects user submitted information such as name, email address, and age … also collects other profile data including but not limited to: personal interests, gender, age, education and occupation …This non-personally-identifiable information may be shared with third-parties to provide more relevant services and advertisements to members.”:[  ] (MySpace.com)

Business Models Directions

With a network of more than 150 millions members, YouTube.com, MySpace.com and Facebook.com have the potential to become a priceless marketing tool for perspective third parties. These companies should take advantage of their location on the cyber-space by boosting interactivity, enhancing communications, promoting community involvement and content sharing. Throughout third party marketing, these companies will strength their revenue stream. Indeed, these virtual communities have started to incorporate advertisers and marketers as members of the online community, and they are providing them with more complete sales pitches as well as with the latest marketing tools such as social Media Marketing (SMM) tools to generate revenue, add value to their ad space, grow online subscribers list and find more qualified visitors.

By implementing Social Media Marketing Tactics, businesses will what customers want, by going down to a more intimate level with them. This implies listening to them, comprehending them, pleasing them and filling their needs and wants with accurate offerings.

Online Business Models of the future will be based on the “FOAF” (Friend-of-a-friend cluster strategy). This is an initiative proposed by the  World WideWeb Consortium (W3C)  which is  “focused on developing ways to describe both the properties of human beings ,  date of birth, age, real name, nicknames, contact information of various sorts  and their social relationships as expressed through their interests, group affiliations, common haunts, places of employment, etc”

Marketing goals 

The main goal of  these online virtual communities  is not to sell products but to promote their brands, these companies are   trying to achieve an interesting, interactive experience for their target market to help build up the “coolness” of their brand and their sites. With that they are trying to leave memorable experiences, experiences that you will tell your friend about…Theses websites want to promotes spontaneity, craziness, coolness , passion for life, community involvement, love, sex , peace , friendship and so on. YouTube.com, MySpace.com and Facebook.com aimed to   build emotional connections with people.

Marketing Strategies

Online social networking websites marketing strategy is based on differentiation and focus. For this particular case, YouTube, mySpace and Facebook marketing efforts are emphasized in building brand awareness as well as customer loyalty. These companies are aimed to aim to target niches where market and industry standards are ruled by outstanding communication and collaboration, outstanding advertisement, excellent channels and unique and personalized content provided. Social networking sites primarily directs their marketing towards generation X and Y. These generations are very informed and intelligent people who tend to be individualistic, and who want to reflect their sense of community involvement. Such sites primarily rely upon its advertising campaigns to drive sales ahead.

Key Success Factors

  • Customer –centric approach

YouTube, MySpace and Facebook are very customer-focused, committed to all solving all of their related customer’s needs and concerns and doing everything they possibly can to keep them satisfied, this applies specially when providing content and information. Users want fresh content and constant update s features.

  • Mass Customization

Mass customization allows youtube, myspace and facebook to retain a highly satisfied user base. Since these companies target market is consumers of the Generation Y and X and, who are more prone to express their personality because of the high purchasing power they enjoy. To this end, such companies are moving toward to a most personalized approach where a channel for individuality, personal expression and creativity is provided. Peers of such generations want to be individuals, want to be similarly different, want to speak up and say I don ‘t want it, they want to let everybody know who they are, not only with words, but with video, music, colors, photos and so on These companies have the ability to provide users with content that closely match their customer’s needs. By delivering personalized content, these companies are meeting user’s expectations, desires and needs better that their competitors. As a result companies are working towards customizing content and information while still mass delivering them. Indeed, companies are implementing mass customization and FOAF strategies to gain a competitive advantage.

  • Pricing

YouTube, MySpace and Facebook have an extremely low cost structure due to the substantial increment of user’s everyday. To date, the companies have shown their determination to keep their cost low. This allow them to operate Free of charge, (an appealing component when targeting generation x and y) while maintaining have quality and still have a good profit margin derived by advertisement.

  • Enhance communication and relationships

These sites are peer-to-peer online communities that serve as icebreakers. For instance, the websites default setting invites user to see more and to interact more with others.

  • Technology

They are making a good used of technology. These companies are using blogs, podcasts, on demand audio and video and other media tools for online marketing.

You Tube , My space and FaceBook are part of the WEB 2.0 phenomenon. Here, Internet is taking a more active role by enabling users to create their own content. Businesses are moving towards the implementation of Social Media optimization techniques (SMOT). Business are looking for increasing linkability, streamlining the tagging and bookmarking process, implementing blogging and podcasting, delivering content in PDA’s applications and enhancing user experience within the websites.

DE

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