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The marketers dream is the viral video or web page that spreads out across millions of people who are amazed by how cool the dancing sheep are or the billion to one basketball shot. They are filtered out by a few sources on to the popular social network sites such as digg where they can become a global phenomenon within days.

Some sites are purely based on the power of social plugs, this cheap form of advertising is a very strong one because of the strength of personal recommendation. Just as if a friend told you about a great restaurant, you can see clearly which websites are worth looking at because a friend has posted a link, a review or even a comment. Trusted blogs are also a good source of links to good pages. This social media helps smaller companies with great products and innovative marketers make large profits in markets where there are traditional dominate companies.

Viral marketing, in my opinion, works best when used to promote events, charities, and campaigns. On it’s own it is unlikely to encourage people to buy products because the campaigns are often gimmicky, take the fun theory and their campaign to take the boredom out of simple tasks such as recycling and exercise. The campaign here is to encourage innovation in to making things that help the world more fun. There is no product to buy in to it is more about ideas. VW have sponsored this project but this more a case of corporate alignment, as they want people to see the brand as fun and environmentally conscious.

Twitterfied n. Unfounded fear in all things Twitter.

Social Media is an umbrella term to cover any website where other users members users offer contributions in an attempt to communicate with many. I decided, eventually, on the word user because of the addictive qualities that many social networking sites create. I remember the early days of facebook, spending hours trawling through the networks looking at anybody and everybody who went to my university learning their favourite films and working out who they hanged out with… that wasn’t just me I hope. If I’m honest I’ve fallen slightly out of love with facebook, much like the child who has grown bored of a toy and moved on to a newer shinier one I myself have moved on to Twitter. Facebook has tremendous social networking capability especially for some one of my age and nationality as all of my peers are members making it very easy for me to connect with them.

Twitter offers a completely new proposition and is still very much in the bright and shiny phase. Here I get to connect not only with my peers (which is a good job as not very many of them have joined), but also with celebrities, industry leaders, comedians and live TV shows. Twitter isn’t always a two way communication like the classic interaction on facebook and MySpace is, it tends to operate more as a soap box where people say what they like and others choose whether or not they want to listen and occasionally some dialogue between two Twitterers. The dialogue tends to be more of a commentary about other peoples post as opposed to reacquainting yourself with long lost friends and having long private conversations. It is for this reason that Twitter is appealing to the 25-40 age group which is a much more mature age range than the other social sites are attracting as their core users, and contrastingly it is the same reason why it presents little interest to the younger internet user.

Social Networks are very much down to personal preferences and what you are looking to achieve. All are very good for raising awareness about businesses and products if done in a manner succinct with your business. As a business it is well worth creating a social network page on all formats just to increase your internet presence. It creates a dialogue with your customers to find out what they like/dislike about your product. As an individual, pick and choose your networks carefully as once your information is out there, you can’t take it back. And just because you don’t understand it completely doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it. You never know, maybe someday I’ll add you on Twitter!

MySpace was the original social network, well at least my first social network. Good For: Music lovers trying unearth the latest bands and as a launch pad for bands trying to get exposure. Bad For: The eyes, too much going on especially if you have the misfortune of stumbling on to a teenage girls space.

facebook the biggest social network receives over 2 billion hits a day! Good For: Getting in touch with your friends (old and new) as everyone is a member. Bad For: Everyone is a member which obviously has its down sides as you can’t escape from some without offence!

Twitter the newcomer on the scene, with year on year growth currently exceeding 800%! Good For: Letting the world know how you feel about anything. Bad  For: Those of us who struggle to be concise, succinct or even short and snappy, only have 140 characters to get whatever we have off our chest’s. i.e. The length of the last sentence!