Chapter 16

Social Networking Sites and Marketing

The popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn is phenomenal. Social networking sites make it easy for people to create a profile about themselves and use it to form a virtual network combining their off-line friends and new online friends. According to Twitter, there are more than 200 million Twitter accounts, and people generate more than 65 million tweets a day. Facebook now reports more than 500 million active users. And it's not just the United States; social networking is extremely popular all over the world. For instance, about 70 percent of Facebook users are outside the United States. Of course, not all visitors to these sites create their own profiles, but there are millions and millions of people who do—to share their photos, journals, videos, music, and interests with a network of friends.

While these huge numbers are impressive, we can easily lose track of what this means to us as marketers. When we consider the reach of influential people on social networking sites, we should rethink our notions about who can best spread our ideas and tell our stories. Many people tell me that they want to get quoted in important publications like the Wall Street Journal or have their products mentioned on television networks like the BBC or on shows like The Today Show. These media hits are seen as the holy grail of marketers. But while mainstream media are certainly important (and who wouldn't want ...

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