“Paid advertising on online social networks in the US is expected to fall 3% in 2009.” (eMarketer, 2009)
With all of the attention and buzz social networking has received, that may come as a shock to many, and as an “I told you so” to those inherently skeptical of the medium.
Many companies are clearly still trying to find their way with social networking. It appears that some have a presence on Facebook or Twitter for no other reason than that they feel they should. However, other companies have seen great success in targeting and reaching both niche audiences and in more broad consumer based initiatives.
We feel that the pull back is temporary as companies refine and integrate their efforts, and that social networking will have a major role in the advertising mix going forward.
2009 may be considered the year that companies worked to develop their presence within social networking sites, establishing content and fleshing out their environments. To us, this is a logical first step, which must be taken before more proactively advertising and working to draw new people.
Because it is such a new and emerging medium, we believe many companies are waiting to see which will take the lead (Facebook? Twitter?), and which will fall off the map (MySpace)? This will allow them to better focus their efforts, and not feel they need to be redundant with ad dollars spent and information/content they generate and share.
Once companies become more comfortable with social networking, it’s natural that they may circle back and work to see how to best integrate with their advertising/marketing efforts. When they do, they will find that they have a wealth of information at their fingertips, including deep data to target users (friend networks, likes, dislikes, and much much more).
Companies will learn to harness this data to deliver custom advertising that works on a more conversational, one-on-one manner. This is not your traditional mass communication, rather, it’s a more nuanced, information based approach that will allow companies to micro target and communicate like never before.