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Marketing to the tweeters

From the Archive

News created: 21 Apr 2010

Lucy MillerOnline social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are now firmly implanted in the cultural mainstream. Yet in spite of their popularity – Facebook currently has 300 million users – relatively little is known about what drives users towards particular sites and what prompts them to contribute content.

Likewise, how knowledge and information transmitted socially among users can be captured and turned into opportunities for profit has so far largely evaded the business sector. To date, research on social networking sites has focused largely on user personality traits, benefits to individuals such as information sharing, issues of privacy and the like.

Now, Macquarie University PhD candidate Lucy Miller is taking a closer look at online social networks from a marketing perspective, examining the key motivating factors for use of social networking sites that influence content contribution behaviour, friending behaviour, and attitudes towards advertising – all essential components that determine the success or otherwise, of a social networking site.

“I found four key motivating factors influencing the users of social network sites – curiosity about the lives of others, social engagement, a desire to increase social capital and status, and self expression,” she says.

“These different factors in turn resulted in different user behaviours and attitudes towards site advertising, how much content they contributed and friending behaviours.”

Based on her preliminary survey of existing social networking sites, Miller argues that those differing core motivational profiles and resulting behaviours show social networking sites have distinctly segmented user markets.

“Site owners,” she says “anxious to retain and increase user numbers, and advertisers wanting to reach those user–consumers, need to be aware of the differences and tailor their approaches accordingly.”

By identifying groups of users with distinct behavioural usage patterns and attitudes towards advertising and commercial use of the medium, Miller’s future work will serve to improve our understanding of the nature and dynamics of consumer motivation.

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