Marketers want to take advantage of new forms of media, and so far they have been having trouble with social networks. But some are succeeding in making use of connections between social network users whether friends on social networking sites or video games opponents on social networks. Paul Moore, director of insights at Yahoo!, determined that more favorable results were attained by targeting friends of users that had self-identified as a sports fan, but had not identified themselves as such. “We got an additional 40% reach from people who would otherwise not be targeted by this ad because their sports-enthusiast behavior wasn’t apparent,” said Dr. Moore, as quoted in an eMarketer article Wednesday.

According to an SLI Systems survey conducted in August by Zoomerang, over three-quarters of retail executives believe that user-generated content will have a greater impact on US retail executives' marketing goals in the near future. Social media tools came in just behind that at 72 percent. Of other e-commerce technologies, online video and mobile technologies are at 69 and 68 percent respectively. E-mail marketing trails the lot at 52 percent.

Even with such widespread faith in the potential in social media tools, effective marketing strategies have not been devised. Use of the medium remains relatively low, as various sources show in eMarketer: utilization rates range from nearly seventeen percent by PROMO magazine in May of this year to 62 percent at William Blair in July. The percentage estimates range over the last two years, but the minimum has only increased by two percent from Gilbane Group's fourteen percent rate in June 2008.

Why are marketers having such a hard time taking advantage of social networks? Other e-commerce technologies have a much more intuitive relationship to potential consumers. User-generated content is branded easily, online video even more so. Targeting options need to be invented, not simply slapped on top of content as previously seen.