All the advertisers are trying to jump on the social networking site bandwagon like it’s 2003 and Google just showed them how to do PPC search text ads. It is the latest new way to reach large aggregate audiences of people on the internet. And you can pretty much turn around three times blindfolded and throw a dart and hit your mark as far as traffic and clicks from these sites. Here are some strategies that I have seen work and some ideas I have that might work if you’re feeling adventurous.
1. Traditional banner buys. The CPM is low for these sites because they get trillions of page loads as people click on profiles, read messages, surf through comments and look at videos and photos of their friends and their fans. With a min investment requirement of 50K for MySpace and Facebook and similar $10 CPM prices you can access millions of impressions really cheaply. The richer the media the more attention you will get. Remember these kids have been raised on the internet and have big time banner blindness, something has to move to get their attention. You should only do this if your product or company matches the demographics of their audience. There are ways to target ad serving by geography and other demographics but remember there is no truth verifier on these sites. Regrdless if they say they are 100 years old and come from Mars, they are 19 and from Hoboken. It is mainly 15-30 yr olds and Facebook has a higher college education percentage. Make of that what you will.
2. Integrate social networking into your campaign. This is trickier and sometimes costlier than just buying ads, but if done correctly it can be a better long term relevant connection to your consumer. You can create a profile for your product or character from your ads, and reach out to the site users in a relevant way. The companies that this seems to be particularly relevant for are mostly in Movies, Music, Video Games, Cell Phones, Ring Tones, TV Shows, internet sites, Video companies, non for profits and politicians. It allows you to communicate regularly with people who “friend” you through messages, blog posts and direct communication. Many people offer freebie stuff to those that sign up as a friend, like free songs downloaded, ringtones, movie previews and notice about new releases. So you may think of it more as maintianing a group of current users and fans of your product rather than attracting a new audience. It is true that a lot of music and entertainment is found on these sites when friends recommend it, but without that recommendation the people who respond to your “friend request” or message you send will be people who already like your product. You have an opportunity to maintain the relationship and upsell them in the future. This is mostly free except for the time spent messaging people and setting up the profile. If you’re serious about maintaining your audience you have to visit and do some communication via the profile every day. Some companies do a traditional banner buy to get attention for their profile too.
3. Special wraps and custom promotions. These get a lot more expensive and can be custom built to fit the needs of the advertiser. The more you pay the more you get and the more they will bend the rules for you. (although I don’t know what rules there are) The most popular type is the home page background wrap that actually splits an image and runs it on the right and left margins around the homepage info. Then they usually buy and coordinate all the banner spots on the home page with video also. Another innovative sponsorship was the 300 Movie paying to increase memory storage for the site so that users could now upload and host 300 photos. Everyone got that email message and said “what is 300 the movie?” and clicked the sponsored by link. I bet they got a 80% CTR on that. Its cool that they can think of new somewhat relevant things like that, and you never know what they will come up with unless you ask.