The Future of Portals to be Discussed at Gartner Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit 2010, September 15-16, in London, UK Social networks have become a critical, but underutilized, aspect of the marketing process, according to Gartner, Inc. Gartner analysts have examined the way social networks shape consumer buying behavior.
The majority of consumers rely to some extent on social networks to guide them in their purchase decisions. These social networks often include individuals who fulfill different roles or functions in recommending products to people they are connected with.
Gartner conducted a survey in the fourth quarter of 2009 of nearly 4,000 consumers in 10 key markets and used the resulting data to identify groups who can play a vital role as influencers in brand awareness, market research and viral marketing campaigns.
"Our survey results showed that one-fifth of the consumer population is composed of 'Salesmen,' 'Connectors' and 'Mavens.' These are three roles that are key influencers in the purchasing activities of 74 percent of the population," said Nick Ingelbrecht, research director at Gartner. "Salesmen and Connectors are the most effective social network influencers and the most important groups for targeted marketing based on social network analysis."
Gartner's social network framework defines the following roles:
Gartner believes that it is essential for device vendors, application developers/publishers and communications service providers to understand how the different roles react to marketing information. For example, Self-Sufficients are not particularly swayed by the usual sources of marketing information, nor do Mavens typically act on the information that is their stock in trade. However, Salesmen, Seekers and Connectors tend to act on marketing messages and are receptive to them.
For marketers, the key "take away" is that Salesmen, Seekers and Connectors are the most effective social network segments to target. Conversely, Mavens — the "information magpies" — are much less useful because they will amass market information but not necessarily do anything useful with it, unless others tap them for their product knowledge. In the case of 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.
"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. In this way, the most suitable individuals can be targeted with the right information, products and promotions in the most cost-effective way," said Mr. Ingelbrecht. "Retailers who run small shops have instinctively done this with their best customers for years with the intention that these 'VIP' customers will not only buy the new products but recommend them to their friends."
Additional information is available in the Gartner report "User Survey Analysis: Consumer Marketing Using Social Network Analysis, Worldwide, 2010." The report is available on Gartner's website at http://www.gartner.com/resId=1381514.
About Gartner Portals, Content & Collaboration Summit 2010
This year’s Summit looks at a market where the pace of change and technological development has never been faster. Consumers have embraced social networking, driving technologies and behaviours into the workplace. The way in which organisations interact with customers and employees is changing quickly and irrevocably. At the Summit, Gartner analysts will provide advice on how to harness the power of social software and realise real return from collaboration investments. For further information on the Gartner Portals, Content and Collaboration Summit 2010 taking place on September 15-16 in London, please visit httpp://europe.gartner.com/pcc. You can also follow the event on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Gartner_inc using #GartnerPCC. Members of the press can register for the event by contacting Ben Tudor, Gartner PR on + 44 (0) 1784 267 738 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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