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Learning to Work with Social Networks
DECEMBER 2, 2008

A developing medium offers new targeting options.

While many marketers want to use social networks as part of their strategies, they still have no clear list of best practices for the medium. Getting friends to spread a marketing message to each other is a great goal, but how is that best done?

A November article in Ad Age detailed efforts to use the connections between social network users. Paul Moore, director of insights at Yahoo!, found that targeting friends of a given sports fan led to more reach than targeting fans who did not know each other—even if the fan’s friends did not identify an interest in sports themselves.

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“We got an additional 40% reach from people who would otherwise not be targeted by this ad because their sports-enthusiast behavior wasn’t apparent,” said Dr. Moore in the article.

Other approaches included targeting opponents in video games played on social networks.

Nearly three-quarters of retail executives surveyed in August by Zoomerang for SLI Systems said they thought social media would have a greater impact on their marketing goals in the near future.

E-Commerce Technologies that Will Have a Greater Impact on US Retail Executives' Marketing Goals in the Near Future, August 2008 (% of respondents)

But the lack of established social network ad and marketing strategies is, in part, why use of the medium is still relatively low.

The fact that it is a new area also helps account for the wide range of marketers’ reported social network usage: 16.9% of US marketers surveyed in May by PROMO magazine said they used social networks in their campaigns, compared with the 62% who said so in a July William Blair study.

Comparative Estimates: US Marketers Who Use Social Network Marketing, 2007 & 2008 (% of respondents)

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