Advertising Age is reporting how Marketers are using social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace as a customer-relationship-management tool. So far, it was limited to ads on these sites but now companies are creating campaigns and sub-communities within these sites.
Facebook claims the goal of its groups is for marketers to have these kinds of continuing relationships. Marketers can use a sponsored group to communicate with consumers via discussion threads and "wall" posts. Marketers pay to promote their group through sponsored stories on news feeds, which let others know about the group. For example, Champion formed a group earlier this year and is still participating in a message board. Ms. Williamson said she believes the Facebook groups are the closest a big network has come to helping brands create long-term interaction with consumers.
But hard as it might be for marketers to stomach, the most vibrant groups tend to sprout organically. Examples are the several devoted to Nikon cameras, where owners post photos they've taken, answer each other's questions about techniques and offer tips for getting the most out of the product.
That kind of affinity and attention is not something marketers can buy, warns Chad Stoller, executive director of emerging platforms at Organic. "Groups will form if there's interest; they will not form from an ad buy," he said. So how should a marketer react when groups form around their brands? "Often the first reaction is to spend against it," Mr. Stoller said. "The first reaction should be to listen to it and figure out how to make that group better."