Monday, February 21, 2011

Marketing in Social Networks: The Importance of Context

As some of you know, I'm in the process of writing the Location Based Marketing for Dummies book with Mike Schneider. As a result, my blog has suffered. To help fill in the gaps, I'm slotting in some guest posts. Today's guest contribution was submitted by Tara Miller who regularly writes for psychology degree.

When marketing your business online, especially in the world of social media, it's important to understand that the term 'social' is a general sort of term. When it comes to marketing within different types of social networks, you have to make sure that you keep in mind the different contexts within which members of these networks operate. Keeping these contexts in mind and adapting your marketing strategies to take advantage of this context can help as you reach out to potential clients or customers in each network.

Two of the most popular social networks out there are Twitter and Facebook, and to the untrained eye, these two networks seem similar. In both cases, you connect with fellow users, share media and other bits of information and you create relationships that can benefit you in other areas of your life. But how can you adjust your marketing for each one?

In the case of Twitter, you have to keep in mind that when you market your blog or products, you have to keep the stream of marketing well within Twitter's 140 character limitations. The message you can communicate is greatly limited in that sense; yes, Twitter now has applications within the site that let users view images and video without leaving the site, but these are still a bit clumsy to use. Likewise, it's a bit harder to follow conversations in Twitter, so anything beyond a few back and forths can be too long for a user to stick with. But this brevity within Twitter does have its advantages; it allows you to really punch up and emphasize the relevance of your message, while at the same time directing users to seek out more context at your main blog or website by following links. Twitter gives you the ability to impress upon your users a simple, but powerful message.

Facebook, however, has the advantage of allowing its users to engage in more complicated types of media; the developers have done a good job of making that a streamlined part of the Facebook experience, so it's much easier for you to take advantage of. While Facebook users also demand timely and up-to-date information, they also have more patience to allow conversations to develop and to experience more static pages. Conversations within Facebook are also threaded, which allows for more contextual conversations versus those on Twitter. On your wall and in your feed, you can post status updates regarding how your product or blog has changed, or what's new for you and your company. You can seek out users who friend you or who exist in similar niches, and interact with them on their own walls. But be wary that Facebook does not usurp your internet presence, as it's very easy for Facebook users to stay online only within the realm of that one site.

Ultimately, if any marketing concept holds true in both social networks, it is this: you cannot automate your marketing in social networks. You must engage users personally and especially. If you can do this well and efficiently, then you can count on users to gravitate towards your brand in a positive way.

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