The value of Social Networking Sites, and some findings on WOM

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From Francois Gossieaux's brilliant Emergence Marketing blog this week: conducted a survey on the potential of social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Myspace as media for marketing activities (pdf download of survey summary results and analysis are here). The main finding seems to be that marketers are in the very early stages of truly understanding the potential of these new networks - with only 18% of the respondents calling the potential of online social networks as a medium for marketing "huge".

Other interesting tidbits from the survey include the fact that marketers see "word of mouth" as the most promising aspect of social networking sites, and that many pointed out that marketers should participate in the conversations that take place on those sites without interrupting them.

Unfortunately, the reality is that many spammers have already invaded Facebook, Myspace and other similar sites. Go check the walls of the most popular interest groups in Facebook to see for yourself - many are littered with posts that are total sales pitches or with information that is totally irrelevant to the group's conversation.

Speaking of Word-of-Mouth, EM has an interesting post on the subject as well:

The latest issue of the Harvard Business Review has an article on how to calculate the value of customer referrals (article not online yet).

They conducted two studies - one in telecom and one in financial services. Some interesting findings from those calculations include:

  • People refer way less than they say they do

  • The customer referral value is higher than the customer life-cycle value

  • The people with the highest customer life-cycle value are not the ones with the highest referral value
The importance of these findings are twofold. First you need to segment your customers along the customer life-cycle value axis, but also along the customer referral value axis. That will enable you to target your incentives to groups to either increase their usage or increase their referrals, or both. Second, this research shows that customers will low customer life-cycle value can in fact have a higher value to your company through referral value than those with high customer life-cycle value.

Read more stuff from Francois here.

Good stuff to chew on. Have a great Tuesday, everyone. :)

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