Friday, 9 November 2007

Facebook encourages viral marketing

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on a briefing made by Facebook executives in New York where they announced that they intend to turn the 50-million strong user base into a powerful viral marketing tool for advertisers.

Companies can now sign up and create corporate profiles that other users can then link to as 'fans' and engage with the brand, so that their activities are then shown on their profile pages and passed to friends through the 'news feed'. Comments and reviews therefore become viral marketing from a 'trusted referrer' and add to the influence of social networking where user reviews and recommendations are seen as a powerful marketing tool.

However, not all comments could be positive and it's not yet clear what will happen to negative reviews or comments, which many large corporations are likely to attract. Also, if referrers will be given a share of any advertising revenue, will this unfairly influence the type of comments being made. The move places a further high profile on Facebook as a necessary marketing tool for many companies and confirms the trend that endorsements are becoming a valuable branch of marketing, and one that can be hard to control.

This comes at a time when Facebook 'flyers' and other advertisements are becoming more prominent and that advertisers are testing very accurate targeting of potential consumers through the profiling of personal data placed on users' profiles. This should make the advertising highly relevant but may also be a step too far for many users of Facebook who object to their personal details being used commercially.

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