Technology analyst Gartner has put together its list of top facts retailers need to know about social networks. Here are the top five:
- Social sites vs social networks: Social web sites enable users to interact via discussion forums or by allowing them to make product reviews, but they are more limited than social networks. Social networks allow users to engage in a broader range of interactions and act as platforms for the development of useable widgets. A social site can be established and run by a retailer; a social network is a larger thing that puts more power in the hands of the user.
- There are many social networks: Most people know about MySpace and Facebook, but there are hundreds of social networks out there targeting various interests or demographic niches. Biggest isn’t necessarily best for your business.
- Social networks are a customer source: And because they are a customer source, they should be viewed like a lead generation channel just like any other, with the same need for investment and ROI measurement.
- Social networks accelerate viral marketing: Social networks are like a hothouse for viral marketing campaigns. That’s great if things are going well, but it also means that a negative perception or criticism can become a widespread very quickly.
- Applications provide a way in: Applications, also known as widgets, are small programs designed to entertain, inform, or connect social network users. Simple apps are relatively cheap to develop and can give retailers a cheap way in to a social network.