Are your company’s products primarily useful — or fun? Recent research suggests that the answer to that question should guide your approach to social media marketing campaigns.

As the number of social media users continues to climb, many companies are looking beyond simply establishing a social presence — and are seeking to “get social media marketing right.” The prospect of free, yet effective viral marketing recommendations from consumer to consumer is very appealing — but often elusive.

Through an analysis of the success of 751 social media marketing campaigns involving Facebook apps, we investigated the social sharing mechanisms that encourage consumers to share information about a product with their friends. What we found is that there is no easy, one-size-fits-all solution for social media marketing. Instead, companies must tailor their social media marketing strategies to fit their products. In particular, useful products benefit from different social media marketing approaches than do fun products such as games.

On social media platforms such as Facebook, the design of the social sharing mechanism intended to encourage consumers to share viral messages is crucial. Consumers can learn about their friends’ interests in several ways: via publicly shared timeline messages, via direct private messages or from the “about” section of their friends’ personal profile pages. When designing the optimal social sharing mechanism for Facebook, managers must make four decisions:

Reach vs. Relevance

A social sharing mechanism can either rely on broadcast messages or target friends individually. Choosing one over the other involves trade-offs between greater reach on the one hand and higher relevance of the shared message on the other. The majority of the Facebook campaigns we studied favored broadcast messages (64%) over individual targeting (36%).

Choosing the Right Social Sharing Mechanisms

View Exhibit

The optimal design choices for social sharing mechanisms for utilitarian products are different from those for fun products.

Strangers vs. Friends

In social networks, most information sharing occurs between direct friends. On Facebook, consumers can also reach second-degree contacts with whom they have no direct connection through comments posted on their friends’ timelines. When designing a social sharing mechanism, managers must decide whether it should be targeted at friends or second-degree contacts who may be strangers. Whether recommendations from direct friends are always more influential than recommendations from strangers is an open question. However, of the Facebook campaigns we observed in our study, only 7% were aimed at strangers.

Push vs.

5 Comments On: Customizing Social Media Marketing

  • vik | November 18, 2014

    Thank you for this very useful article. There are a number of good takeaways, and a reminder to business managers and social media experts on what strategies to take.

    Vik Chaudhary, CEO
    OnBoardify – The #1 Onboarding Software for Application Owners

  • BONNIE NELSON | November 21, 2014

    great reminder on focus and thinking before doing

  • Mark Suares | January 18, 2015

    Useful insights into the efficacy of social media, using a resilient strategy.

    Mark Suares

  • bs srikanth | May 12, 2015

    How relevant is doing balanced scorecard implementation for SMM campaigns/ programmes/ digital media n analytics that are integrated with manstream mktg n sales programmes. any study or research been done on this?

  • vishal kumar | August 14, 2015

    Thanks for this post.It really very helpful for startup and there are son many thing to applied to our real time business.

    CTO of Movitube | Movietubenow
    Digital Media Expert

Add a comment