Interactive promotion report: social networking
What are social networks?
Social networks are websites that enable individuals to interact with one another via the internet. It allows its users to use this platform to gain intersest from web users on a professional or social basis . These websites allow people to not only get to know one another but to also share Photos, music, view TV clips, messages ang blogs. In this way Social networks are used by companies in order to promote their brands or products to the public or for general use and as a way of making friends.
As the popularity of these social networking websites rose, it seemed that some have taken advantage of it by using them as a way of promoting themselves as a brand. This is mainly the case for those who are trying to breakthrough into the Music or Televsision industries. Therefore Social networking has now become an Interactive Promotion technique.
Examples of these Social Networking websites are MySpace?, Bebo and YouTube?. These are general websites that are open to anyone, whereby an individual can dedicate pages to themselves, promoting who they are and what they are about. Many use these websites to launch a career or generate a "buzz" on the internet before appearing anywhere else in the media.
The Advantages of Social networking as an Interactive Promotion technique
- One of the main advantages of social networing websites such as MySpace? is it is free of charge to use and so many feel that there is less financial strain when trying to breakthrough into the entertainment industry. As it is free to set up an account and URL for themsleves, it is a cheaper way of creating a name or a branding image, rather than having to spend thousands of pounds on promotion in mainstream media and advertsising.
- It is an easy way of promotion by word of mouth. The internet is a vast and potentially powerful tool when dealing with the masses and creating a stirr, especially when dealing with such well known websites and networks such as YouTube? and MySpace?. Therefore once a webpage has been set up with the aim to attract attention and enable poeple to view or sample a persons talents, the word quickly spreads and fanbases are created.
- Many people that choose to use social networks as a promotion tool begin as unsigned acts, therefore they have complete control over what they promote and the style or image that is created.This is important as they are not seen as commercial puppets, but rather are themselves who genuinely have a passion for whatever it is they are promoting. In essence their raw talent shines through. This can be said of the award winning band who started off in this way, "The Artic Monkeys."- They made sure that they had cut out the middle man which meant no corporate interference and more control over what they showcased and how they did it.
The Disadvantages of Social networking as an interactive promotion technique
- It can be a risk to use social networks as an interactive promotion technique as word of mouth can also be viewed as a negative reason. Once something is added to a persons webpage or uploaded and negative perceptions are made, it can be very difficult to retract this negative image from the public. This is due to the speed and mass audience the webpage can be viewed. The same could be said for Television too, however, the internet has less if no regulations and a persons image can be tainted very easily.
- It has been noted that after a massive increase in the use of social networks such as MySpace? and Friendster, public images were being ruined. The new scientist online magazine has stated that; "The use of such social networks have led to the demise of reputations and even miscarriages of justice." (http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19025556.200?DCMP=NLC-nletter&nsref=samplemg19025556.200). This can be very damaging as it can hinder a persons future job prospects and uncover illegal facts concerning politics, drug abuse and references of a sexual nature.
- There are issues concerning privacy as a webpage on a social network is available to anyone at any time and therefore the target audience is not selective.
Examples of Social Networks
According to Nielson/NetRatings? (May 2006), the top five social newtwork websites in the USA are as follows:
- MSN Groups
- MSN spaces
These examples are based on the retention rate that had been reported on the Nielson/NetRating? report. It shows us what the most popular websites used were during May 2006.
Within the UK the Top Social Networks are as follows;
- MSN Groups
Here are a few evaluations of what some popular social networks offer in terms of Interactive promotion and the differences between them.
Myspace is a user friendly website that has over 4million members, and many that use the website are not necessarily members but are browsing. The number of users is continuously growing as it is the number one social network worldwide. This social network is mainly to promote music whilst interacting with other people. Although it began and is still known as a social network, the promotion of music, Films and comedy has seemed to have taken over. The website caters for anyone who is interested in getting to know current artists from all sorts of genres and is a clever way of reinforcing the relationship between a signed or unsigned artist with their fans. The homepage suggests that Myspace is easy to use as all the icons on the top tool bar navigate a user to their preffered area of media or action. This website makes it easy for anyone to set up their own URL, whereby they can promote what they do. It appears as though this website is very much kept up to date and current and therefore it is a good choice of interactive promotion for anyone just starting out in the Music or Film industry.
An example of a campaign created using Myspace as an interactive promotion technique - CASSIE
Cassie- RnB american solo artist
Cassie is a successful solo artist who has been created through the phenomenon that is MySpace? music. Before she was signed to Bad Boy records by P.Diddy she and her music producer had taken it upon themselves to use the website as a way of promoting Cassie to the world as a brand, or image before launching her into super stardom. This campaign has been proven to be a success as there was a call from fans on the website for Cassie to produce a Music video for her first single "me and U" which was launched on her URl. After this became one of the fastest songs to be downloaded in the USA via Myspace, Cassie still remained an unsigned until her single reached the hands of Dj's and was being promoted in clubs and on radio stations. This proves how powerful the use of a social network such as MySpace? is when launching music.
How was the campaigned managed when using Myspace as an Interactive Promotion technique.
- By creating her own webpage on Myspace and then creating an external URL via MySpace?, Cassie had complete control over her image. She was able to design the URL to suit her personality with no one pushing her to be portrayed in an unfair light. She used colourful backgrounds and her experiences as a model to showcase pictures of herself before she began singing. This enabled people to get to know Cassie as a person and not just an artist.
- She then used the sites to promote her music once she had gained recognition and media interest. This was done by adding the option for fans to copy and paste a code to promote the first single, pictures and slogans were uploaded promoting Cassie and her management team "Next Selection". Video clips were also uploaded via YouTube?, showcasing Cassie during rehearsals and her new music video. This would gain her even more interest as people are able to watch this at any given time, as long as they logged onto her webpage.
- MySpace? also make it very easy for fans or anyone to contact Cassie, there are many options ranging from an instant message to comments being posted onto her bloggs.
2. MSN Groups- http://groups.msn.com/browse.msnw?catid=61
MSN Groups is a social network website that enables users to search their category in a refined way. It is different from MySpace? in terms of the options of categories it provides. As it is called MSN groups, there are an array of groups to choose from, these include; business, computers, games, health, home and lifestyle, money and performing arts. By clicking onto any one of these groups you can then choose a webpage created from members that are promoting that category. This enables industry professionals to promote jobs, or any type of business or brand that could be connected to that category.
3. Youtube- http://www.youtube.com/index
Youtube is different to MSN groups and slightly similar to Myspace as it is a social networking website that pays less attention to the fact that it is a form of socialising and more focus is put on interacting with others by sending and sharing media to others from around the world. Youtube describes what it does as the following;
"Upload, tag and share your videos worldwide
Browse thousands of original videos uploaded by community members
Find, join and create video groups to connect with people with similar interests
Customize your experience with playlists and subscriptions
Integrate YouTube? with your website using video embeds or APIs."
Therefore we can see that Youtube has a different approach to social networking as their main emphasis is on sharing videos, although there are other options on the main navigation bar such as; channels, groups, categories. The example of the CASSIE campaign which was created using MySpace? that was mentioned above, features video links which have been uploaded using Youtube. Other artists such as P.Diddy and the Artic Monkeys have also taken adavantage of what Youtube can offer.
Reports- Social Networking
1.http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/may2006/tc20060530_170086.htm?%20chan=search- Social Networking goes Mobile
This report is interesting as it talks about how the largest U.S mobile phone provider; Cingular is to join a social networking site. This will enable members of this social networking site to view music, downloads and videos via their mobile phones. This report reinforces that social networking has become a part of our technological lifestyles.
This report suggests that; "Myspace and Bebo are both actively bolstering their UK sales teams in a determined effort sew up the online advertising sector for 18-30 year olds." This shows that the advertising and promotion market within social networks has grown massivley, to the point where they are using these sites to target a specific age range and the masses.
3. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/5140634.stm- safety tips for social networks (04.06.06)
This report struck me as it talks about the dark side of social networking. It highlights one of the disadvantages mentioned previously about the lack of privacy and safety issues from these sites especially when promoting ones self. This is particularly true when promoting an artist and not being selective about the type and amount of people they would be targeting.
The new Lynx boost shower gel has been promoted through the News Corp social network. This report states how larger corporations such as Unilever are using their poroducts to create a brand image by adding advertisements on these social network sites. It is also a way of leading consumers that use these sites to the corporate website, and further more promoting the new Lynx product.
After researching various Social networks we can see the impact that these sites have had on the USA and UK. As well as this we can understand how these social networks have been used as an interactive promotion technidues. Therefore we can conclude why corporations and companies would use this fairly new form of promotion as well as the general public. Reports and campaign examples from the most popular social network; Myspace, enable us to see the advantages and diasadvatages when choosing this particular technique.