Understanding Group Behaviour on the Social Web
By Richard Larson
Now that we have the Internet, we can safely say that all obstacles regarding borders, time, and distance have been broken. In fact, the evolution of technology has allowed us to talk to each other and take part in activities not just as individuals but as groups as well.
What we’re referring to here are social media networks. These have been growing in popularity for a few years now, and they’ve revealed how group discussions can lead to the development of collective wisdom. Such social web channels include emails, SMS, podcasting, forums, microblogs, music, photo and video sharing channels, etc. Moreover, some of the best-known parts of the social web are LinkedIn, Wikipedia, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, just to name a few.
Still, when talking about marketing, we cannot just rely on the way we use social media as individuals. We also have to look at it from the marketing professional’s point of view. Within these networks, we can find both current and potential customers who are discussing different aspects of our business. Opinions, reviews, and experiences — everything is shared there. Thus, they’re helping prospective customers become aware of the existence of our business, and they’re also influencing them. In essence, these people can convert others into our new customers.
Understanding the participants’ behaviour and groups
When trying to understand this sort of behaviour, it’s important to start at the beginning. In order to benefit from using social media channels, we first have to understand them. We must know which varieties exist and how we can use them.
Some channels only have individuals who are chatting or talking to other people. However, there are also forums and blogs that allow us to read discussions going on among group members, centred around one common topic. In fact, there are even discussions and groups going up against each other, trying to come to a resolution and end the debate.
What’s important to know here is that all these networks and groups have the ultimate power over the outcome. They can influence those discussions and each other’s opinions. Thus, if we want to design a successful strategy from the marketing point of view, we ought to understand how the groups work. What’s more, we need to learn about all the moderating, controlling, and influencing elements they consist of.
One of the best things about these discussions is the fact that they lead to intelligent arguments and trustworthy content. So anyone who can read them, ask questions, and look for answers will certainly flock to these channels. It’s all about making an informed choice by asking those who’ve already tried some products or services what they think.
Most people think that this is never a waste of time, as they’ll get true information firsthand. Moreover, at the same time, they’ll socialise, make new friends, and enjoy learning something new.
How can marketers use the social web?
Nevertheless, in the social web, the marketers are not the ones who matter in terms of advertising and informing others about products or services. Those who matter are actually the participants who are discussing and sharing their opinions.
However, a marketer can influence the discussions by winning the trust of the group. But they’ll have to first come up with a communication plan and an effective strategy. Once they do, they’ll easily understand the social web and how to remain present on it. Moreover, they’ll be able to read what the group is thinking at any given moment, thus acquiring essential feedback.
Richard Larson is Brand Manager at GoPromotional. He enjoys sharing marketing and trade show tips, especially as they relate to promotional products.
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