A social network can be regarded as a network that comprises of people who made of nodes. It could be individuals or organizations. Such networks are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as, values, ideas, visions, interest, and friendship. In a social network, the relationship among people is often analysed and related to nodes, ties, and roles. Nodes are the individual actors within the networks, and ties are the relationships between the actors. Gladwell (2000, p.34) states that there are three roles played by people around us: connectors, mavens, and salesmen. Referring to this perspective of social network, sales and marketing activities have always considered as their key part. In the context of Web 2.0 market, social networks are also used to drive and accelerate its growth.
Google also realises the value of such social networks so that they develop business and marketing strategy that can work through social network. Most Google applications employ viral marketing that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others and create the potential for exponential growth in the message’s exposure and influence. Google Mail, for example, in its first launching, implemented viral marketing. Google Mail’s viral marketing is simple however it has been worked very effectively. This viral marketing asked for user to give referral to other people for registering and joining Google Mail. It was started with a small user base which many of them were Google employees. Then they repeatedly sent invitation to their colleagues. The result of Google Mail viral strategy is the pool of users that grow exponentially. Thus, like viruses, such strategies take advantage of rapid multiplication to explode the message to thousands, to millions. Google Mail has been extremely successful in penetrating the ferocious competitive environment of free email that has been dominated by many older players, such as Yahoo Mail and Hotmail (MSN).
The Web 2.0 pattern that has close relationship with this Web 2.0 strategy is the pattern one, harnessing collective intelligence, in which its best practices recommend to set network effects by default and involve user explicitly and implicitly. These best practices can potentially become a strategy to optimize social network in enhancing marketing performance.
Gladwell, M. (2000). The tipping point: How little things can make a big difference. Boston: Little Brown and Company.