Social networks will become a critical media for marketers and advertisers.
Of course, many professionals in marketing and advertising can bear witness to the massive changes that have overtaken traditional media. Network TV viewership is down. Cable is crowded with repetitive pitches for products like Snuggie and ShamWow. Newspaper and magazine circulation is so bad that publishers have taken to giving subscriptions away as a means of increasing readership numbers. Digital media is a spider's nest of dubious CTRs (click through rate) and SEOs (search engine optimization). Usurping the importance of print, broadcast, outdoor, live and digital is the 6th media: Social Networks.
Forget about Facebook and Linkedin. These engineered networks represent only the tip of the iceberg. Social networks are any group of people linked by a common interest, and they tend to spring up all on their own. How people in these networks find each other and trade information is the mission of a new cadre of social network analysts. It could be that tiny group of employees who still smoke. While on breaks out on the street, researchers have found that they tend to share information more readily than their non-smoking colleagues. It might be a group of bloggers who share information about some obscure ritual in the Russian Orthodox church, or it might be a community of online gamers. My book, The Gort Cloud, explores the invisible green network that is powering today's most visible green brands. What I and others have discovered is the vast power of social networks to deliver partners and willing customers at a fraction of the price of traditional for-profit media channels. As more companies discover how to connect a narrowly crafted product message with a highly targeted network of customers, they will increasingly choose social networks (and social media) over traditional media.