Throughout this book, I discuss social influence marketing on the major social platforms: what you can do on the paid side of the equation as well as on the unpaid or earned media end. Still, much more social activity is happening online beyond Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, and Twitter that needs to be accounted for. Industry insiders believe that in the coming years, greater fragmentation will happen as usergenerated content flows more seamlessly between the major social platforms and the rest of the Internet
Marketing via Niche Networks and Online Influencers
Arguably, by studying the monthly unique visitors and growth rates of these social platforms, you may wonder whether calling them niche platforms is even appropriate. They still have millions of unique visitors each month and, barring few exceptions, appear to be growing at a relatively brisk pace. For many people, these social platforms are more valuable and personal than MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.
Finding the Right Social Platforms
If I were to start a new business, it would probably be a business that, through some magic formula, would tell marketers which social platforms their specific customers are spending most of their time in a given month, with guidance on how to reach them. I would probably make a fortune for the simple reason that it’s hard to find these customers beyond the major social platforms.
Getting Social with Your Marketing
fact that you can’t just focus on the social networks: You need to look more broadly at the video Web sites, the mainstream media Web sites, the blogger networks, and social media publishing tools that are all beginning to incorporate social functionality
The social platform infrastructure providers are a separate category too. These infrastructure providers allow users to create their own social networks or blogging environments on them. Ning (www.ning.com) and Gather are among the most popular of these platforms, allowing people to set up social networks that behave similarly to the way a MySpace or Facebook behaves, with member pages, community areas, and activity streams. Vox and Blogger (www.blogger.com) are other successful infrastructure providers too.
Research the platforms
Just as it is extremely important to understand your customers and where they’re spending their time online, and with whom, it’s extremely important to research the social dynamics of the various social platforms. It’s no use proposing a social influence marketing strategy that covers YouTube if you don’t really know how marketers can and are allowed to use YouTube. Nor will your marketing efforts be a success if those marketing efforts, even if YouTube allows them, are out of sync with how users expect to use that social platform.
Traditional display advertising: Think of these as display banners that you see elsewhere across the Internet. These banner ads generally have cookie-based behavioral and other forms of targeting overlaid on top of them. They’re sold and measured as traditional display banners are (primarily through CPMs, or cost per impressions, and CTRs, or click-through rates).
Social advertisements: These ad formats bring a person’s social graph into the ad unit itself, encouraging engagement (imagine if you saw a friend’s photograph in an advertisement) or pushing similar advertisements to friends of a person who clicked a specific advertisement. Sometimes these social advertisements include usergenerated content and are targeted based on browsing patterns of friends in a network.