Social Media exploded in 2009, with Facebook having a firm grounding already, Twitter's celebrity endorsements saw the micro-blogging site hit the big times.
But Social Networking has been around for some time and quite a few versions of them too, from MySpace, Bebo, Flickr, the list goes on, but 3 of the main networks that have grabbed the attention of the corporate's and engaged in online marketing that hasn't previously been seen are Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
So is it really a marketing gold mine or just a passing Fad like MySpace was?
Well calling MySpace a passing fad might be a bit strong, the networking site is still going with a good 60 million active members, so it shouldn't be ignored, however the flip reversal it has had in comparison to Facebook over the past year is why MySpace is not being considered as an investment area due to Facebook more than doubling MySpace users, where as it was the other way around end of 2008. Facebook growth has been staggering, doubling its numbers within 6 months and estimating 250 million users at the start of 2010.
Twitter on the other hand seems not to tread of Facebook toes so much, but are now being linked together by 3rd party Apps, and even Facebook Apps. Twitter no estimating 1.2 billion tweets at the start of 2010 is staggering!
So why and how is all this useful to corporate?
Its not so much about the direct Social Networking the corporate can undertake through Facebook and twitter, we're pretty sure they don't want to share their photo's of ex-girl friends or be messaged by the old school bullies, but the true benefit of social networking is how content can get generated on the web, through your network, and how this content gets pushed to users and potential customers that could never be reached before.
The network of socialising, allows your content to be passed to one person, who in tern passes it onto their friends, and the pyramid of data transverses faster than wildfire. Create topical, interesting content, and you will be astonished the power social networking has. Have a look at the 2009 UK christmas number 1, all because of a Facebook campaign, made Rage Against the Machine surprising number 1!
The other benefits which are to be embraced
Connecting with customers and potential customers! The social networking game has allowed the next generation of customers engage in ways which haven't been open before. Complaints, enquiries and wanting to find out more about a company, can now be directly engaged by enabling key personal at corporations to communicate directly with end users. The human need for direct face to face interaction is now being bridged with social networking, where the over 50's are embracing the web through computers and the next generation is logging on through mobile devices.
The online marketing strategies of corporations and small businesses, should use the power of social media to generate traffic and content across the web. The risks of not being able to control the content will always exist, however when managed with right procedures, the return of investment and increase in raw profits and sales can be mind blowing. In 2010, Pepsi removed their Super Bowl sponsorship budget and spent it on social networking and online marketing instead... the market leaders are leaders for a reason.. because they are first ones to embrace new tech!