During our Week 2 lecture we looked at the rise of Web 2.0, and in particular the increasing popularity of Social Networking Sites (SNS). The reading, ‘Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship’, by Danah Boyd and Nicole Ellison presented a snapshot of the history of SNS and how they’ve changed over time.
The first social media sites began to emerge way back in 1997 with a site called ‘Six Degrees’, which used a layout that has been fairly consistent for all right SNS for the past nearly two decades. “While SNS have implemented a wide variety of technical features, their back-bone consists of visible profiles that display an articulated list of Friends” (Boyd, D, Ellison, N, 2008)
One thing that has changed over time though, is the ways in which we use social media. Perhaps the most famous SNS in the short history of the Internet is Facebook, which was created by Mark Zuckerberg.
Originally called ‘Facemash’, the site was restricted to Harvard University students who used it to rate their fellow classmates. Despite landing him in hot water with the University hierarchy, the site was incredibly popular. It was this popularity that inspired Zuckerberg to write the code for what we now know as Facebook.
This is all well and good, but like I said the sticking point for me is the changing nature in which we use social media. In the digital age that is, social media and SNS have become a key component in how we operate not only socially, but also professionally.
SNS that offer free user registrations traditionally make a profit by selling advertising space, in tandem with the information provided by its users. Advertising on Facebook operates slightly different to AdWords (Google’s paid advertising product) in that “Facebook ads are targeted to the users’ demographic and interests, not what they’re searching for” (North, E, 2014)
While buying advertising space on Facebook is proven to increase publicity, there are just as many if not more strategies for promoting your brand on SNS without spending a dime. The amount of books, articles and courses you can take to improve your online marketing skills for Facebook are evidence enough of this.
The development of SNS that solely target business alone have become increasingly popular over recent years, with LinkedIn being at the forefront of these platforms. Created to help business’ nurture and grow their connections, it also gives job seekers a place to search for openings in the industry and promote themselves professionally.
I recently read an article in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) by Elsita Meyer-Brandt, who conducted a study about the use of social media in increasing sales. Working in the events industry, Elsita analysed the transactions across the business for a period of time, this then allowed her to identify which transactions were linked with their social media campaign.
The results that came from the study were interesting to say the least; particularly given that this was study was conducted within the Australian marketplace. The results showed that:
- “One message on social media delivers $4.80 in additional revenue”
- “A single share resulted in nine additional visits on average”
- “Twitter lead this trend with one share generating on average 38 additional visits” to the website”
- “Twitter is Australia’s most effective social channel” (Meyer-Brandt, E, 2014)
Of all the SNS that were used, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn were proven to be the most effective for advertising online. For the most part this is not surprising; to begin with, Facebook’s sheer user numbers and popularity make it a powerful marketing tool for anyone. LinkedIn was setup to cater to businesses and job seekers, its niche market makes it the perfect platform for advertising. Twitter is supremely popular amongst the older generation and its 140 character limit often leaves its reader thirsty for more information, an intriguing or eye catching Tweet is therefor crucial when Twitter is used as a marketing tool.
Speaking from personal experience, I’ve gained a first hand insight in to the ways different demographics use social media and the common trends amongst them.
Working in the marketing sector for a Players Association (the Rugby Union Players Association, or RUPA), we produce media that targets the players. Like most professional codes, the age for a professional Rugby player in Australia generally spreads from 18 up to about 34, although some players may play for longer.
With our two main platforms being Instagram and Twitter, it didn’t take me long to realize the split in its users. All of the younger players, 18 to say 23/24 used Instagram. While some of these players also used Twitter, the vast majority of Twitter users were the older blokes, 25 and over. This was extremely useful in that we could tailor the way we used our social media to reach our intended audience, much the same as any business would.
- Boyd, D, & Ellison, N, 2008, ‘Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship’, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, pp210-217
- North, E, 2014, ‘5 Reasons Why Your Business Must Use Facebook Advertising’, http://www.koozai.com/blog/social-media/facebook-social-media/benefits-of-facebook-advertising/ Accessed: 7/8/14
- Meyer-Brandt, E, 2014, “Why social media drives sales”, Sydney Morning Herald, http://www.smh.com.au/small-business/smallbiz-marketing/why-social-media-drives-sales-20140804-3d3l1.html Accessed: 5/8/14