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Companies have been daring, experimenting with all sorts of different technologies, including social networks, blogging sites, and viral content. At the same time, this participation might not be all that daring, considering that 75 percent of U.S. Internet users also used some form of social media in the past year. Facebook alone has increased its membership by more than 100 percent compared with a year before.

There is no question that consumers are on the Web and communicating. Now companies are flocking there as well and experimenting with communicating with consumers on this platform. Dell uses Twitter to increase its customer service reputation; specifically, it responds to customers who mention a problem or question about Dell products in their posts. The tactic has been valuable in improving consumers’ attitudes toward Dell.

Other companies have become active on YouTube, hosting contests and encouraging consumer-generated content submissions. Hewlett-Packard’s “Hands” ad campaign prompted a YouTube channel just for consumer-generated spoofs. Companies and brands thus are creating personalities that may have been difficult to portray before social marketing came into the picture.

Some companies have opened islands on Second Life, the virtual world, though it remains a difficult platform and has forced many companies to exit. Others have dabbled in creating a blog or social network page but found that their static content did not draw sufficient attention and thus was not effective for marketing. Interaction remains key to successful social marketing.

Mobile marketing has still been slow to take off, but mobile technology adoption generally has been successful. Apple has sold 13 million iPhones to date, which means mobile marketing will be easier and more accessible to a lot of consumers. CNN, eBay, Ford, Garmin, the Obama presidential campaign, and MLB were among the many brands that have created applications for smartphones affiliated with Apple, Blackberry, and Google.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What is social media marketing?
  2. Have you participated in mobile marketing?

Elisabeth A. Sullivan, “We Were Right!,” Marketing News, December 15, 2008.