The buzz surrounding Social Networking sites may cause media buyers to shy away from allocating budget to the social networking platforms. Those who are just now getting on board may be “showing up late to the party”, while the current advertisers are experiencing disappointing click-through rates. Despite the mixed reviews, there is still plenty of opportunity to become profitable through media buys involving social networks. The opportunity especially exists for local advertisers, and when it comes to advertising on social networks, local advertisers have the home field advantage.

When purchasing media, it is important to ask partners “what are your users’ demographics?” Every media buy should contain a clear and concise definition of the target audience. Let’s face it, reaching your target audience is the most crucial factor in any internet marketing endeavor, and targeting the right users based on their specific interest or behavior is critical in media buying.

We all know that users of social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, offer up their demographics through their user profile. This allows media buyers to reach audiences based on their specific interests, activities, relationship status, and of course, location. The plethora of user information eliminates the trial and error process of finding that “sweet spot” which is all too common in most media buys. This influx of segmented information enables a more time and cost effective purchase of media.

Historically, Social Networks have been synonymous with branding. Recently, the bigger brand advertisers are straying from social networks in search of niche specific sites. These niche sites are believed to create a more “meaningful” view for big brands. This shift leaves the door wide open for smaller, more localized advertisers to fill the void in Leaderboards and Skyscrapers. Local businesses recognize the fact that they need an online presence, and social networks extend the chance for these smaller businesses to get in the game.

Facebook, for example, does a phenomenal job of allowing advertisers the dynamic feature of targeting geographically. Local businesses can explore creative steps in order to reach consumers, while playing an active role in the community of wall postings, groups, and RSS newsfeeds. Of course, results will vary on a case by case basis and ads certainly need to be tested; but this obviously brings local advertising to the national websites.

Not only does advertising on social media give local shops the national appeal, it also maximizes ROI while allowing advertisers full control of budget. The average cost for one network cable spot ranges from $ 3,000 to $ 5,000 and the average cost for one premium network cable spot is $ 10,000. How much exposure could the same amount provide a local advertiser on a Social Site? Facebook’s Social Ads are priced on either a CPC or CPM basis – advertisers are able to choose a daily budget and a maximum CPC or CPM, and there is no set cost for these advertisements.

Social media consumers are often seeking specific information in a low-pressure environment. Studies show that contextual advertising can increase a campaign’s ROI in this medium. Facebook’s users are accustomed to this type of informative content which can turn casual browsers into serious buyers. Although these social sites may be the future of local advertising, it is still important for local businesses to spread advertising dollars across the old marketing mix. Using the newspaper, radio, or magazines to point consumers to their site will spike interest. This multi-channel marketing will also enable a more branded appeal while pumping up traffic to stores, and will ultimately lead to increased sales.

No matter if you are looking to purchase media for a local bookstore, bike shop, dating service, or night club, social networks offer the opportunity for local advertisers to roll with the big dogs and score the big sales!

References:
“B2B Buyers Dig Social Media” Marketing Pilgrim, February 24, 2009 ( http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2009/02/b2b-buyers-dig-social-media.html )

“Exclusive PMN Research: Brands Struggle To Reach & Engage Younger Gen Y’s Within Social Networks” Social Media Today, March 4, 2009 ( http://www.socialmediatoday.com/SMC/78154 )

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