The Importance of Social Networks

In our Marketing in the 21st Century course, we were asked to use our social networks and post messages encouraging our followers to check out the MOOC.  What’s that?  A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course.  The University of Southampton’s first MOOC focuses on, “Web Science: How the Web is Changing the World” (Future Learn, 2013).  For more information of the MOOC, click here (sotonscomms, 2013):


 After posting, we were then asked to record the reactions we received from our social networks.  Now, having 974 Facebook friends and 143 Twitter followers, I thought it would be easy to get people to like/share/favourite/retweet the link.

Low and behold, it wasn’t.  Two of the four Facebook likes I received were from coursemates, while the other two were from one of my housemate and my aunt in Arizona.  I had a little more luck on Twitter – one retweet from a coursemate, two retweets from a fellow DigiChamp, and one retweet from someone outside my network, @LeanneF.  But, these still weren’t the results I had hoped for.

This assignment made me wonder how companies today are beginning to combine their traditional marketing goals with their social networks to market their products and services. Or, if they aren’t using their social networks, will they ever?  From my experience, there are still companies out there who have separate marketing/advertising budgets for their traditional and digital media components.  Yes, traditional media will always be important, but it’s the integration of traditional media, digital media, and social networks that’s key to a successful campaign. The companies that HAVE integrated their social networks into their marketing plans are changing the marketing world as we know it.

One of those companies is the American coffee and donut chain, Dunkin Donuts.  Their newest campaign took real customer’s tweets with the hashtag #MyDunkin and created a campaign around them.  Instead of collecting research to create commercials, they used the actual experiences, which helps customers feel a greater connection to the brand.  Click here to hear about Meg’s #MyDunkin experience (dunkindonuts, 2013):

By using their social network, Dunkin Donuts engaged their current customers to potentially talk about and share the video with potential customers.  Yes, they’ve paid to make the commercial and for the airtime, but word of mouth marketing and video sharing is, for all intended purposes, priceless.  DunkinDonuts not only helps their customers feel part of the brand, but they also receive free advertising.

DunkinDonuts is just one of many companies who have integrated their social network into their marketing plan.  In the coming years, we’ll see more and more companies do the same as social networks, and whatever the next new digital tool is, become even more important to a brand’s survival.

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