Sunday, August 22, 2010

Face of Facebook

It's time to discover the face of facebook

A group of individuals spending time either in verandas of homes or in a neighbour’s homes is very much a part of Indian culture for decades. But chances of such jamboree were probably based more on the homogeneity of the group, specially in terms of interests and lifestyles. A social media allows a homogeneous group as well as several heterogeneous groups to blend with one another on variety of aspects. The size and enormity of the groups have been transformed by the digital revolution. This characterization reflects the implication to understand how a social media like Facebook or Twitter impact the marketing of products and services.

Facebook, Twitter, MySpace etc glint off associations of youth, coolness and possibly constant socialization. The world of social networking seems to have created a peripheral thrill among both consumers and marketers and along with the thrill and excitement, comes the challenge of using this mysterious medium. What is the psychology/sociology behind using these social networks? Would they be useful for marketers and advertisers? If so, would these be useful only for mammoth brands like Mercedez or Gucci or Omega or can they be applied to regular and common offerings.

If iphone 4 has product related troubles, it exponentially and perhaps graphically too reaches millions of FB users in amazing and short span of time. If Nike’s campaign on using Rooney’s real life “on the ground” mistakes are to be a part of the teaser campaign, millions on FB or Twitter get energized and a layer of that gets “rubbed off” on Nike. Trust these are the implications of social media for marketing practice and the formation of brand attitude among a target segment of consumers.

It is not the homogeneous groups that demonstrate similarity on several counts that helps marketers; the need for excitement and gratification of discovering a group that is not compatible with oneself is the digital revolution’s value add to the consumer behavior. Few years back, Adidas launched a game on MySpace, which suggested to the visitor two soccer teams (Predator and F 50). Such digital campaign has a plethora of advantages- an opportunity to explore the profile of individuals who register for either teams and their psychographic orientation by follow up efforts, (if required) tracking the attitudes of individuals on the category and specific brands and even using the concepts of virtual personality to know how consumers try to experiment with groups that may not be oriented towards their own self concept.

While the above example is simply to showcase the potentialities of using social media, there are several facets that marketers need to be clear about the media to deliver results. Social media is not to be viewed in isolation- it needs to be viewed as a part of the IMC associated with the brand. Whether to decide social media is apposite, marketers in today’s clutter need to have a conceptual focus. If that happens, FB will present serious face that is good enough to market the traditional Chikkis, Nokia gadgets or even promote a noble thought of keeping Yamuna bed clean and green.