In their efforts to connect with potential customers online, businesses are already using online banner ads, site sponsorship and email marketing but can we predict the next big development to hit the mainstream? In my view it’s going to be online community messaging.
Why? Firstly, community messaging has the power to deliver a business’s ad direct to the audience. Secondly, using the wealth of personal data held by community sites, marketing can be targeted right down to the individual.
Thirdly, it avoids the potential problems that have developed in using email for advertising, such as spam filters and users recognising and rejecting marketing emails. And fourthly, it offers an exciting, new interface, which we could call ’partnering’ or ‘piggybacking’.
If we take Facebook as an example we can see the huge potential for online community messaging marketing.
Facebook has a number of features that offer an effective message service through activity linking. The most direct model involves creating a fan page of a brand or product and inviting members. As people join their network friends are automatically alerted to the action, which spreads the word about the brand. This marketing style generates what is known as ‘Fansumers’ and it has the added benefit that brands are not just promoted but also endorsed.
The ‘partnering’ message is Facebook’s latest initiative. If a user messages a friend with reference to a commercial entity, the business can pay to include an ad that accompanies the message. The example Facebook uses is a restaurant. A user messages a friend saying they have visited a particular restaurant and included in the massage is an ad for that very restaurant.
Online community popularity continues to go from strength to strength and it offers unique characteristics to help businesses get their message across. So a big part of the future of online marketing certainly involves online community messaging.