Answers Served: Spiceworks Talks Changing Realm of Social Advertising

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ADOTAS – Back in March, Spiceworks — a social business network used by around 1.5 million IT professionals — rolled out its version of the Fan Page/Company Page. Vendor Pages not only allowed brands to share content about products and embed videos and webinars, but also share application plugins — we all know that’s the quickest way to an IT professional’s heart.

Spiceworks CEO Jay Hallberg explained to us brand interest in niche social network and how advertising on the social space is changing in general. He refused to comment on whether Spiceworks employees are forced to consume large doses of Melange to improve productivity.

ADOTAS: Why do you think brands are turning to more targeted social networks to reach an audience?

Targeted social networks are where relevant audiences are already conversing, and likewise, where brands can be part of conversation that’s relevant to their business. If you want to recruit new talent, you’ll probably turn to LinkedIn because it has a large audience of potential recruits. If you’re a consumer brand, Facebook makes more sense. However, if you’re a big company like Microsoft or Intel and you want to reach a tech buyer, Facebook and LinkedIn don’t make much sense; you’d probably want to consider turning to a social business network like ours, where the largest group of these folks lives.

How should brands approach advertising on social networks? Is it just about “likes”?

“Likes” can certainly begin the conversation, but brands need to think about how to make themselves invaluable within the social environment— not just providing an interactive experience for their audience, but also creating a lasting relationship that eventually directly affects revenue. For example, what apps or products are you giving your fans or followers to make their lives easier and better? What content are you providing? Beyond the “like,” social networks can become the place where brands and businesses create and distribute their products and services. Once you think about it that way, the possibilities are endless.

Does the value of an impression change between the different social networks based on how targeted the audience is?

The value of an impression depends more on how much money the people in your social network have to spend. In a network for college students, the average buying power per user might be $200 a year. However, in a social business network such as Spiceworks, where the audience is specifically small business IT professionals, each person directly controls more than $120,000 in annual spend for their companies. So, it would make sense that the value of an impression would correspond to the purchasing power of each user.

What’s next for advertising on social networks?

Social commerce. Lots of social networks talk about social commerce, but so far it’s just experimentation. This year, social networks will begin to sell stuff directly. And it makes perfect sense. People are already seeking opinions and advice about products and services from their friends and peers on social networks. Now, if they could just buy, it would complete the circle and greatly increase the value of social networks by increasing the average revenue per user.

What’s the biggest misconception about advertising on social networks?

Social networks are no longer just for consumer brands. As targeted social networks pop up in industries we never considered to be “social” before, they’re beginning to transform the business-to-business sector as well.

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