Discuss three examples of how social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, etc.) can be used in market research?
Hint: You may conduct some research on the Internet before answering this question.
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The marketing industry was quick to adapt to the explosive growth of social networking as a means of communication. The advent of the Internet had already forced advertisers to respond to the revolution in mass communications and in peoples’ ability to conduct research and access all kinds of material. The rapid transformations in information technologies that have occurred have allowed marketers to reach millions of additional potential consumers. As importantly, the opportunities to conduct market research have been transformed by the growth of social networking. Just as marketers were able to exploit data collected on individual consumers at grocery store checkout counters for the purposes of tailoring advertising to those individuals, they are able to collect data on online purchases and websites visited and target individuals for specific products and services.
One example of how social networking interacts with marketing is, as the question proposes, Facebook’s use of advertising revenue to provide its service to the public for free. Little in life is actually free, and the price we pay for using Facebook is the information about ourselves that goes out to the world, including to marketers (as well as to those with more sinister motives). Facebook owns a vast network of “supercomputers” that collect and collate information on its users, and that enables marketers to target those users with advertisements that data suggests will potentially appeal to those individuals. In addition to targeted marketing, however, are generic advertisements from companies using a “blast” approach to soliciting consumers. Just as television and radio advertising target large segments of the population, so do many companies, including information technology firms, pay Facebook to advertise to all of its hundreds of millions of users. Simply glancing along the right-hand margin of one’s “home” page will reveal those businesses, political organizations and others who have paid Facebook to advertise on their service.
Another example of marketing and social networking is Twitter. By going to Twitter’s “home” page and scrolling down to the bottom of the page, one can see an option labeled “Advertise.” By clicking on this link, Twitter provides information to potential marketers on how to use its service to reach more potential customers. One of the options within this page reads as follows:
Measure results in real time
Track the growth of your follower base and see how people engage with every single Tweet
That option tells you all you need to know about the relationship Twitter solicits with businesses looking to exploit Twitter’s database for marketing purposes, as does another option available to advertisers:
Choose your target audience
Reach the right audience by targeting based on interests, geography, gender, device, or users similar to your followers. In addition, maximize the relevancy of your message by targeting by keywords in people’s Tweets.
As noted, these social networking sites use massive computing power to collect, process and distribute information on its users – information exploited by marketers to target goods and services to those most likely to be interested in those goods and services.
Finally, YouTube allows marketers to post links to their clients’ websites in individual video clips. Go to one popular video, “Charlie bit my finger – again,” and you will see a list of links to websites for companies hoping to capitalize on their services. One can connect to a T-shirt company, to itunes, and to Android, all companies that calculated that viewers of this video will be interested in related material.
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