Social networking using such services as MySpace has grown substantially in the last couple of years. But is it all a “flash in the pan”? Or is this something that Internet marketers really should take notice of? There have been few studies of what happens within online social networks, but new research from Fox Interactive Media (FIM) suggests there is something they call a “momentum effect”.

Now FIM is owned by the same group that owns MySpace, so they clearly have a vested interest in telling us that. However, their research does show up something interesting. What appears to happen is that within social networks people discuss brands, products, services and so on. So, if you advertise your business within MySpace, for instance, there’s a chance it will be picked up and discussed within the network. The result is that you could be selling stuff a long time after you originally posted or advertised – the so-called “momentum effect”.

What happens is your brand or your product gains lots of chatter and referrals, which gradually build up momentum for what you are selling. The research from FIM suggests that what is happening is that people are telling stories to each other about how they use or like particular products and brands. It is this story telling which appears to be fundamental to the passing on of information about what you are selling and building the momentum.

So, what does this new research tell us? Well, nothing new at all really. For years, brands have depended on us talking to each other about them. If you like a particular product or service you tend to talk to your friends and colleagues about it and recommend it. That’s all that’s happening on social networking sites such as MySpace.

What this actually means if you are involved in Internet marketing is that you are more likely to get increased sales if you can use social networking sites to help generate stories and recommendations.

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