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Research Networking

Traditionally, marketers used demographics (compiled by market research firms) as one of the main tools to identify and target potential customers. Factors such as a person's age, sex, and where they live remain important to getting your message across to the right people.

However, social networking provides a new opportunity to assess markets in near real-time. Word of mouth has always been one of the most powerful marketing methods — people more often that not use the products that their friends like and recommend.

Social media sites can provide this type of data on numerous products and services. Want to find the best laptop computer? Doing a traditional Google search won't get you far. Why? Because you won't get a recommendation, or multiple recommendations. More than likely, you'll get review sites.

However, do a search on a social networking site, and I guarantee you will find a list of what people think are the best laptops. Because of the open nature of social networking, you can easily find your customers and see what they do online and who their friends are.

Friends of your customers are an excellent target market. In fact, research has shown that people are as much as five times more likely to buy a product if their friends like it.

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