Social advertising (social relationships)
Social advertising is advertising that relies on social information or networks in generating, targeting, and delivering marketing communications. Many current examples of social advertising use a particular Internet service to collect social information, establish and maintain relationships with consumers, and for delivering communications. For example, the advertising platforms provided by Google, Twitter, and Facebook involve targeting and presenting ads based on relationships articulated on those same services. Social advertising can be part of a broader social media marketing strategy designed to connect with consumers.
Since a pair of consumers connected via a relationship are more likely to be similar than an unconnected pair, information about such relationships can be used to infer characteristics of consumers useful for targeting. For example, predictions of an individual's home location can be improved using geographic information about their peers. Existing advertising platforms can allow advertisers to explicitly target the peers (e.g., Facebook friends, Twitter followers) of consumers who have a known affiliation with their brand. Thus, one way social advertising is expected to be effective is because social networks encode information about unobserved characteristics of consumers, including their susceptibility to adopt a product and to influence their peers to adopt.
Social cues in advertisements
Social ads often include information about the affiliation of a peer with an advertised entity. For example, a social ad might indicate a friend has endorsed a product, highly rated a restaurant, or watched a particular film. In fact, some definitions make these personalized social signals a necessary condition for advertising being social advertising. Inclusion of personalized social signals creates a channel for social influence. Experiments that remove peers' names or images from social advertisements provide evidence that their presence increases proximal outcomes (e.g., clicks on advertisements).
Word of mouth
Advertisers often attempt to use word of mouth to affect consumers and their decisions to adopt products and services. Ads and other inducements targeted at a seed set of individuals can be designed to produce a larger cascade of adoption through influence. Businesses are also using social media to attempt to identify and persuade influential consumers to spread positive messages about their products or services.
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