Robert Young writes a very pertinent piece: For Social Networks, 2007 is all about MONEY.
College Kids & Teenagers, two very important demographics within the social networking phenomenon, could, however, be effectively monetized and advertising dollars from Coke, Pepsi, Nike, GAP, Adidas, Bebe, Cover Girl, etc. can easily be harnessed by acknowledging the fact that this demographic can actually participate in “creating” products, and not just trying to blast the equivalent of broadcast advertising (banners) towards them.
In the past, focus groups have been expensive, and companies use the technique to try to gauge the feedback of whole demographics by sampling a handful of random interviewees.
Now, with the advent of social media, a brand like Nike or Bebe could test ideas and garner feedback from literally millions of target consumers – efficiently and cost effectively – long before actually launching the product. These consumers could then be involved in the iterations that a product design often moves through, and by the time it is finally launched, the market is ready, anticipating the product, and because they feel an ownership about creating it, these very consumers will use their vast social media navigation skills to promote it as well.
Of course, for this hypothesis to work, you need segments with time in their hands. College Kids could be an excellent demographic to try this on, with their abundant enthusiasm for new things.
And for an overview of what’s happening in the College Kids segment, take a look at the next report from the Segments & LifeStyles section. For Teenagers, the landscape is somewhat similar, but with some interesting developments, with major Print magazines shutting down in favor of their online strategies (Teen People, for example).