There are tons of articles talking about just how far Twitter, Facebook or your blog can or can’t take you. Is it worth your time to become a high profile Digg user? Delicious user? Etc.
I think it all depends on whether you know what to use social networking for. Namely, the online equivalent of word of mouth marketing, not your own small personal PR firm.
Word of mouth marketing is far more powerful than any other type of marketing. You can splatter your product on every billboard I see, and even if you catch my attention and intrigue me, I’m still going to ask people I know whether they’ve tried it or not before I do. I do sometimes buy something without anyone’s recommendation, but that almost always happens while I’m browsing for something particular, not while I’m being marketed at.
Some people seem to have the impression that with social marketing, you need to build up thousands of “friends” and then everything you proclaim to them will influence them to go forth and spend money that benefits you. If it were that easy, every TV commercial would guarantee success for its product.
The real potential of social networking is like this:
- You build a small circle of friends who trust you and really value your recommendations enough to go put something on their Amazon wishlist right now.
- Those people also have a small circle of friends and hopefully are “sneezers” who recommend it to everyone in their trusted circle.
- You also build a small circle of friends who trust you but only on interests they share with you, or only on certain topics. Those people are also valuable.
If you can influence three people to go out and buy something because you thought it was so awesome, and those three people are sneezers with separate circles from yours, the sky’s the limit. It’s not about how many friends you have, but how many of them (a) listen to you and (b) tell people you don’t know, who listen to them.