Social networks have many uses for marketers - and many marketers are more than enthusiastic to test the waters in various ways: listening to consumers thoughts about their products, observing in what ways real people talk about the services you offer and specifically what words they use... The viral nature of the networks can also be massively useful or dangerous, there are many examples of the latter Starbucks and Sony amongst them.
So while marketers seem to have grasped opportunities to engage with their audiences, one thing that is becoming increasingly clear is that straightforward advertising on social networks simply does not work. While more than half of US consumers with internet access use some form of social networking to connect and communicate with peers, they are resistant to advertising in their “friend spaces”. A recent IDC Survey finds that:
- Display ads on social networks have lower click-through rates than traditional online ads (79% of all general web users clicked on at least one ad in the past year, whereas only 57% of social network users did)
- These same clicks led to fewer purchases (Web: 23%; social networks: 11%).
Seems that the dual promises of targeting and of “social” advertising still have a way to go before they begin to pay off...