Marketing on social networks is not always that successful as Todd has pointed out, but there are sly ways to garner some success. Facebook has an interesting feature -- the news feed. Depending upon members' privacy settings, it will chronicle their activities and broadcast them to their friends.
While some Facebook denizens loathe this feature, it enables people to find out what their friends are up to. From a promotion point of view, the news feed is a great channel for others to advertise a person's or organization's cause. As Facebook denizens interact with such entities, the news feed can broadcast such action to their friends. Further, they are also indirectly vouching for a cause making it more appealing, important, or hip for their buddies.
Here are some tips on how to harness the news feed for peddling a product, person, or cause that will coax people to do things that are visible to others:
(1) Create a profile
-People cannot befriend anyone who doesn't have a profile. Further, create one for your "mascot." Many of my friends have added such icons to their buddy lists. I've searched Facebook, and Smokey the Bear doesn't have a profile. Why?
(2) Host an event and post it
-How about a costume party with a competition to see who can cross dress better than Rudy Giuliani?
(3) Share a funny video or picture
-Blendtec's viral "Will It Blend?" video series lends itself well to this tip. It even makes high-end blenders hip to younger folk. In fact, I like the one when glow sticks are liquified, and my Bivings colleague Erin brought it to my attention by sharing it via Facebook.
-How about a reel of bloopers from TV commercials?
(4) Post pictures
-These could include candid shots of products, people, or other silly related items. If Facebook users are in these photos, either they or their friends can tag them, and these tags can show up on the news feed.
(5) Post news articles
-Offbeat news involving a person or organization is a great item to share. For instance, a lost dog was returned to its owners four years after it was MIA by a shelter about 1,100 miles away from its owners since they had a microchip idenfitification chip implanted in the pooch. The Associated Press article profiling this news even mentions the chip maker, Avid. If Avid had a Facebook profile, it should share this article via the site.
(6) Write a note
-This is a great way to directly communicate with people sans the filters of journalists and spin doctors.
It is very important to note that people can, have, and are creating groups, sharing media, and writing notes about people, organizations, and causes (for example, the "One Million Strong for Barack" group in anticipation for the 2008 US Presidential Election). There is nothing stopping organizations from entering the fray to get their voice heard as well.
There are a plethora of social networks other than Facebook, but not all have a feature like the news feed. However, these tips are also applicable to marketing on other sites.