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Posted on March 16th, 2013, by

From the moment when the first social network appeared, marketers of all countries began to think over how to exploit the potential of social networks for Internet marketing. The popularity of social networks takes marketing to a new level. Positioning of services for clients is based on low cost and mass distribution. The cost of contacting customers becomes several times cheaper than when using other forms of advertising. The main value of these services, according to Wymbs (2011) is that this advertisement has the highest degree of trust among users. That is, if a favorite blogger, friend on a social network, or just someone on the forum writes something good about a company or its services, the typical user will perceive this message as valuable information rather than advertising.
It is difficult to argue with, indeed, people are tired of advertising and looking at it through the prism of distrust. Official sites of companies or banks have less trust than the independent sector sites where consumers leave feedback and opinions. In the West, the recognized marketing specialists speak about the need for informal communication with one’s target audience. They give the examples of corporate blogs of billionaires and the largest companies, thematic communities of well-known brands in social networks, amateur video clips from customers that have been viewed by tens of millions of users, etc. (Thackeray 2008; Wymbs 2008; Gay 2007).
Internet marketing in social networks factually can be effective. Efficiency will be achieved not through direct advertising, but through viral marketing, product placement and a clear targeting of the audience. Social networks are becoming a huge force of public opinion formation. Communicating on the Internet has long ago passed the time of simple chattering. Now people discuss serious issues here and find advice on every occasion of life. Discussion of product or company in a social network is the best advertising. To make buyers speak about a company, and make them speak positively, the company itself should begin this conversation. The first step to this is to create a community in a popular social network like Facebook (Figure 1), which is one of the top 10 fastest rising global searches (Jansen 2011).
Figure 1. Rating of networks by Market Share (%), 2011.

Source: Jansen et al. 2011, pp. 120-136.
Further, in this paper, we’ll discuss the peculiarities of organizing the promotion of Internet community in the social network, focus on marketing strategies contributing to achieving loyalty of users and propose possible methods and practices to be implemented.

Facebook as a Platform for Marketing: Promoting a Facebook Group

Purpose of the Project

The specificities of the project (social network placement, open source and content, public broadcasting) push us to applying community business model, as well combining it with the methods of advertising model (Rappa 2008). In general, Social Media Marketing (SMM) is a complex of measures on the use of social media as a channel to promote companies, interest groups and solving other business issues.
Marketing in Social Media will contribute to: 1) creating and popularizing a source of operational information for clients and potential clients; 2) stimulating communication, knowledge and information sharing; 3) attracting the attention of a large number of potential customers to the theme with a clear binding to the target audience on various grounds (age, gender, interests, status, education, etc.); 4) receiving feedback from the audience and direct communication with the customers in order to increase customer loyalty; 5) neutralizing the possible negative information about the group on the Internet; 6) increasing targeted traffic to group’s web page.
The methods and approaches to organizing social network marketing project are further covered in sections on Target Audience, Web Traffic Plan, Marketing Objectives and Marketing Strategies.

Target Audience

Implementing the advertising model, it is significant to create a web-page on the basis of clearly segmented audience (Rappa 2008). One of the possible ways to gather information about the audience visiting the site, as well as targeted audience is the application of log analyzer of the server and visits counter which are integrated into Facebook service and allow studying all of the users on the site and specifying the distribution of the audience of the site by region, time, gender, etc.).
In the case of marketing community web-page under consideration, the target audience could be described by the following characteristics:
From the demographic point of view, the target audience of the site includes students visiting marketing courses, alumni and marketing professionals, as well as applicants and future students of marketing departments of CQU and other educational establishments, men and women aged 18-26.
Basing on the CQU Annual Report, we see that while the total number of students approaches 20 000, the number of undergraduate students makes half of it (Table 1). Generally, they represent the main segment our marketing strategy should be base on. Researches show that due to their age, contemporary undergraduate students are more involved in social networks, more opened towards communication in them and entering communities on interest (Jansen 2011). Postgraduate students represent another significant segment, making nearly one third of the target audience. Still, treating them as young professionals, we attempt to interest them by professional information and expert discussions, including deepen approaches to content update.

Table 1. Total Student Number (by level of program), 2007-2009.

Source: CQU Annual Report 2009.

From the geographic point of view, the target audience at the first stages may be limited to Australian students of CQUniversity. However, the significant number of international students (8-10’000) makes it possible to further extend the geography of the group in the countries presented by CQU international students (Table 2).

Table 2. International Student Numbers, 2007-2009.

Source: CQU Annual Report 2009.

Economically, an average representative of the target audience is a single person engaged in part-time job (even including full-time students), and seeking to reach educational progress effectively due to the systematic lack of time. The representatives of this audience typically possess free access to Internet inside their educational establishments as well actively use the access to Internet and other media at home or at dorms.
However, in our case, marketing using the classification of target audiences in terms of income will not be effective (Table 3). Presence of paid or even well-paid job (part-time students) or the refusal from prestigious consumption and focus on education (full-time) created the situation unusual for the past years: people who live economically and mentally different lives may intersect within the same community

Table 3. Total Student Load (by mode and type of attendance), 2007-2009.

Source: CQU Annual Report 2009.

segment. In connection with this, we can conclude that psychographic research has advantages over the methods based on sociological parameters. Thus, this is not just about the income level, but also about the division into age and gender groups.
In Table 4, we see that inside the main target audience of undergraduate students, the number of female students exceeds the number of male ones (3’965 towards 3’082), while the situation in the segment second by significance (postgraduate students) the situation is opposite (1’796 towards 2’427). On the whole, the total number of CQU female students is higher and may be treated as the major target audience.

Table 4. Total Student Load by Gender, 2009.

Source: CQU Annual Report 2009.

In general, the target segments of potential visitors of the group behave fairly homogeneous, are more interested in socializing, music and various entertainment, along with finding educational information covered in understandable and visually supported manner (Jansen 2011). This group totally makes about 35% of the whole audience online (Taylor 2011).


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