Post about "Social Networking"

Social Networking and Viral Marketing Blend Together to Create Viral Social Networking

Social networking becomes “viral” by blending the traditional social networking process with aspects of viral marketing such as word-of-mouth (WOM) communications. This blending creates a powerful and influential business promotional tool that increases online sales and Website traffic. Here are several highlights from the comprehensive research that was conducted to validate or contradict my theory regarding the effects.I first scoured dozens of top-quality academic research journals. These journals publish the work of the best and brightest academic minds all over the world. I found several sources that demonstrated how a company’s activity within social networking sites, including viral marketing aspects like WOM communications, could help a company build an “online brand community” when a product for sale is the centerpiece of the strategy activity. I also dug into the research studies to see if I could determine whether or not a brand community could facilitate a consumer’s decision-making process (product adoption), which is clearly the end goal.Incidentally, this intensive research also helped me uncover a number of linkages that later formed the foundation for the three Cs in viral social networking: conversation, community, and commerce.Social networking sites serve as arenas for consumers to share their reviews and preferences about products or services. When consumers share these reviews, the exchange of information becomes WOM communications, because a product or service is the centerpiece of the message. WOM is a form of viral marketing.Another study also determined the effectiveness of WOM’s role in the flow of information as well as the flow of influence. This makes WOM communications an attractive part of the marketing mix, because as an unpaid endorsement for products or services, WOM can be the most believable form of advertising. Brand communities are composed of people who possess a social identification with others who share their interest in a particular brand. In addition, brand communities are non-geographic, meaning they can exist anywhere including on the Internet. This gives a businessperson the ability to these tools to create a powerful and influential online brand community for their business.Based on the data, it seemed reasonable to conclude that if brand communities are composed of people sharing common interests just like social networks, viral marketing activities like WOM communications are prominent within social networks, and brand communities can exist entirely online, then social networking sites have the potential to serve as the platform to develop an online brand community.I also found existing research that suggested marketers could leverage the power of interpersonal relationships found between members of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to promote a product or service. The concept assumes that the electronic peer-to-peer communications such as WOM are an effective means to transform communication networks into influence networks. These could be used to capture recipients’ attention, trigger interest, and eventually lead to sales.However, the effort needed to build an online brand community via social networking activities would only be valuable if the community positively affects the sales process. Therefore, I felt it was necessary to quantifiably measure the effectiveness of a brand community’s ability to increase online sales. Or does an online brand community simply bring people together who have a common interest in a particular product or service? Unfortunately, none of the existing studies specifically tested this impact.This is what motivated me to invest my money and test my theory and collect my own data. The results were impressive because the effects of viral social networking are profound. Viral social networking has the ability to increase traffic to a business Website by 23 percent as well as increase the online conversion rate from the typical 2 to 4 percent, up to 22 percent. That represents a 780 percent increase in conversion rate!