Date of Award

5-2007

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

Professional Communication

Advisor

Howard, Tharon

Abstract

Over the last few years, the use of online social networks has increased exponentially, and some of these 'virtual communities' are among the most visited sites on the Internet. With this boom in popularity has also come a rise in the need for marketing within these spaces, and very little academic literature exists on how to best utilize this new and budding arena for advertising ventures. Traditional business approaches to marketing are no longer adequate because of the radicalization of new media found within online social networks. This thesis, therefore, provides a new metric of success for social network marketing, supplemental to the more traditional cost analysis that most marketing developers currently use. Three separate, distinctly different instances of marketing within online social networks are analyzed using a rhetorical analysis, derived from Bitzer's concept of the 'rhetorical situation' as well as contributions from Vatz and Consigny, among others. The results of these analyses show that an important determination of the success of a marketing campaign within virtual communities is an accurate assessment (during campaign development) of the exigencies of the situation, both on behalf of the rhetor and the audience. The results also show that the most successful forms of marketing within online social networks are those that offer similarities between the rhetor's exigencies and the audiences' exigencies.

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