Brands need to be careful regarding the use of social networks to promote products and services. Most people do not want advertising or corporate intrusion into their social lives. I still can not understand why Brands or Advertising Agencies are pursuing this so hotly. It is very illogical.
Obviously the lure of social networking makes sense. But it only works in my opinion if you can have people themselves sharing with friends. NOT you pushing advertising.
Let me start with some perspective. Advertisers want your attention and eyeballs. So they follow your eyes. Their goal is to have products and service advertisements follow you everywhere. If they could blast ads to the back of your eyelids to view while sleeping the would. With so many eyeballs on Social Sites it is logical to want product placement or ad placement on those web pages. That is no different than buying the space behind home plate at a baseball stadium knowing everyone watching on TV will see your Ad behind the batter when he is being pitched too.
The deficiency of the Stadium Ad is that really you can show a product or a business name and not much else. On a Social Network like Myspace if you place a banner Ad you hope for a click through to your website. But the person on that social site could care less. They are there to socialize. They already see your ads everywhere. So in effect just like the baseball game the value on that web page is the same as the Ballpark. You can show the company name and whatever benefit you get from that is about all you can ask for. In fact the click through rate for Social Networks has been shown to be half the rate of regular non-social site web pages.
Now lets discuss a little recent history. The problem is clutter in peoples lives. Every Brand/Company has a web site. Most offer email updates for special offers, new products, promotions etc. Since you already have your Brand with national advertising and product exposure and your website address everywhere people can and will sign up for the email updates. But eventually when you sign up for so many of them a persons inbox and spam box get filled.
I myself receive a ton and I only read a small percentage of them because of the volume and the fact a person only cares when the subject is a right fit. An example is you begin planning a vacation and now you will start opening emails for travel companies.
So if all these tools are there for people and they still aren't using them like a Brand would like, you can't force yourself on people. It turns them off. People will wear designer gear and friends will see and want the stuff themselves. But they do not want advertising forced into their personal space. Try standing forehead to forehead with a stranger or even a friend. See what happens!
This gets me to Twitter. Twitter has some great attributes. But it can be a very bad place for advertisers. If I already sign up for email offers from a Brand and do not take advantage of most, or even view most why would I want Brand updates on Twitter on my computer or phone? It doesn't make sense. Nothing is that urgent!
Now where Twitter does make sense is such times as a product recall. Like the peanut butter or pistachio recalls to get the word out for people's safety. Or if I buy a new car and the dealer says they will send me reminders for service. Though SMS Texting works just as good. But do I want my phone filled with updates from Keebler that a new cookie is on sale this week at Safeway? No freaking way.
There is nothing wrong with Brands chasing eyeballs. But there is a wall/line of personal space that people do not want crossed. So say yes to Brand Champions online and off line. But I feel that forcing your way into someones personal space is the wrong way to go.