Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Social Networking or marketing havens?

I have always ignored invites from friends asking me to join some online social networking services like Friendster and LinkedIn. However, recently the publicity surrounding MySpace and Facebook got the better of me and I decided to join both of them to see what they are all about. I didn't really go that far with MySpace after signing up. I was quite disappointed that I wasn't able to find any of my friends in MySpace. It seemed to be glorified personal profile page for many attention seekers or "movie stars wannabes".

I wasn't too interested in Facebook initially, but after hearing a few people at work talking about Facebook, I decided to sign up and check it out to see what is so special about Facebook compared with the other social networking service.

Interesting to my surprise, I was able to find nearly two dozen people I know of immediately after signing up facebook. I have even managed to find a couple of old University friends and 1 high school friend whom I've lost contact with for more than 15 years. Wow, I am surely impressed. To top this, Facebook is not just about finding people and customising your own profile page, it keeps people interested in allowing people to create software applications to allow friends to interact with: games, quizzes, virtual gifts, you name it. There are some hundreds of applications available for you to "play" with.

It seems like Facebook knows its target audience, it knows its consumers. I think it is pretty much targeting the Generation Y & Generation Z consumers. With more than 1 million users, Facebook is a rich and fat ground for marketers. It is not to hard to image that Facebook will be able to data mine user profiles and activities, allowing companies to market their products at specific group of users. Targeted marketing is the name of the game in the world of marketing these days. Demographic segmentation of users by age, gender, preferences, likings such as movies, music, food, etc... is made possible by Facebook's database of really rich personal profile data.

I believe this focus and targeted marketing will be most effective, more so than Google's AdSense which really relies on unreliable guessworks based on internet surfing profiles or scanning of keywords on web pages.

So is social networking simply a lure to gain profiles on consumers? I certainly think so...

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