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Social networks transform marketing

Social-network marketing, using both and , has become the talk of the town among marketers in all industries.

The rapid rise in the number of users at both sites in Thailand has demanded the attention of Thai marketers, many of whom are currently calculating what share of their annual budget they should divert to the new online medium.

An adviser to the Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration, Ian Fenwick, has given some pointers to online-marketing success.

He said marketing was moving towards a new digital era, for which new marketing models would be designed and developed to deliver messages digitally through a variety of end-devices and platforms including Internet web 2.0, mobile phones, Internet television, personal Internet devices, social-networking platforms, and electronic devices yet to be developed.

Referring to the “Four Ps” of traditional marketing strategy – product, price, place and promotion, he said digital marketing came with its own Four Ps: permission, participation, profile and personalisation.

“Marketers need to understand the fundamental elements of the new era of marketing first. Then they have to understand how to use their marketing budget to gain the most benefit,” Fenwick said.

This year, Internet penetration around the world amounts to 1.6 billion users. Of these, 42 per cent are in Asia. These people are also spending more of their time on the Internet, from only 15 per cent of their daily life in 2003 to 30 per cent in 2008. Their main activities on the Internet are participating in social networks and reading blogs.

The best-known social-network site is Facebook. It now has 330 million users – up from 250 million in July. The trends are similar in Thailand, where there are 16 million Internet users and more than 1 million of them are Facebook users.

Twitter, the most popular microblog site, had more than 7 million users in February, up from fewer than 5 million one year earlier.

Marketing expert Thunyawat Chaitrakulchai, who is managing editor of MKT magazine, said social-network marketing, especially that using Facebook and Twitter, was the next big thing. Marketers should not ignore it, but should pay more attention to learning about it and understanding it in order to use it as a marketing weapon to reach the right target customers at a lower cost in terms of time and money.

He said it was better to use both Facebook and Twitter in parallel, with “balanced portions” devoted to each. The size of the portions directed at each channel depended on the requirements of different businesses.

“There is no one success model for all. This is a time for marketers to pay attention. They have to realise that they cannot ignore this. Both large corporations and small- and medium-sized enterprises should jump in,” Thunyawat said.

A similar message came from Worawisut Pinyoyang, marketing expert and owner of Newmedia.com and MKTtwit.com. He said Facebook and Twitter had a big impact on product and brand awareness.

The beauty of social networking for marketing is that it provides a huge number of target customers with the correct demographic profile, he said. Personalisation enables marketers to get very quick feedback and their marketing message can reach a mass market in a short time by “going viral”.

(Published in The Nation Newspaper, Byteline Section, September 29, 2009)

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