Terri Goveia
Just Friends? Networks Can Shape Marketing: Gartner | Canadian Insurance

Just Friends? Networks Can Shape Marketing: Gartner

Connectors can share product information.

Those friends and colleagues on your social networking site? They aren’t just contacts, according to analysts at Gartner, but key influencers on how and what we buy.

One-fifth of the consumer population can be considered “connectors” or “mavens” who influence 74% of the consumer population with their choices–but organizations aren’t capitalizing on the value of social networks or their players, the information technology advisory group reports in a new study. Understanding who’s on Facebook and other networks and just how they impact their contacts’ consumer behaviour can help companies shape future marketing efforts–such as viral marketing campaigns, reveals Gartner’s User Survey Analysis: Consumer Marketing Using Social Network Analysis Worldwide, 2010.

The different social network players share and use consumer information in specific ways, the analysis found. So-called “connectors” are skilled at bringing many people from different areas together, while “salesmen” have exceptional persuasive powers. They–along with “mavens,” who are experts in particular area–are key contacts for “seekers,” who search out other people for information and advice.

Not-so-easily persuaded: “self-sufficients,” who prefer to do their own legwork and make their own decisions.

Organizations would do well to target salesmen, seekers and connectors, since they can create the most consumer traction, say Gartner analysts.

When it comes to the more independent mavens and self-sufficients, “service providers should focus on improving their shopping experience, whereas in the case of connectors, seekers and salesmen, the focus should be on both the shopping experience and making information easily available,” a study briefing states.

“Companies attempting to use social networks should develop relationships with key customers over a period of time and progressively refine the social network profiles of those individuals,” Nick Ingelbrecht, Gartner’s research director says in the July 26 briefing. “In this way, the most suitable individuals can be targeted with the right information, products and promotions in the most cost-effective way.”