When it comes to targeted marketing, it helps to first know who your target is. Next, you need to know where to find them.
Social media allows you to do both things with one stone (so to speak.) In fact, an excellent example of target marketing via social media is what is happening right now in the credit card industry. For years credit card companies have been targeting debt hungry college students seeking to build their credit score, or simply get their hands on some available credit. The best way to do this (back in the day) was to set up kiosks on college campuses and reach them directly. Some colleges, concerned that their students were being targeted for debt that they could not handle, have begun limiting the accessibility they once offered to credit card companies. As a result, these same companies began looking for other ways to reach their market.
Then along came social media. Specifically Facebook. Facebook was created as a social network specifically for college students. It was a veritable cornucopia of college students waiting to be targeted by companies and marketers eager for access to their eyeballs. As the site morphed from a college-only crowd to a social media site for everyone, credit card companies swooped in.
Now, these same credit card companies are among the most active social media marketers in business today. They are actively pursuing their key demographic using the world’s most powerful communication tool: Social media. And it’s paying off big time. Credit card companies get a bad reputation for offering too much spending power to adults who are unready or even unable to handle it. But they are not breaking laws and business is business.
Regardless of what you may think of the efforts of credit card companies to reach college age students, it should be recognized that they are offering only what is available and doing it in a manner which places their product directly in front of the people they want to reach: Social media.
“The CARD Act’s provisions for young consumers have been a step in the right direction, but more action is needed to protect college-age adults,” Nelson said, who joined the USC Law School faculty in 2007. “Card companies continue to see consumers who are under age 21 as a profitable market and, as a result, they strategically have found ways to solicit the college-age crowd, including through social media.”
Nelson, who researches and teaches consumer and higher-education law, found several examples of aggressive marketing practices and lax eligibility requirements by credit card companies despite the protections put in place by the law.