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Social Networking Trends and what they mean for Marketers

Posted by : admin in Social Media Marketing ()Comments

How the social networking landscape changes impacts the Social Media Marketing strategies of companies and brands. Ofcom, UK  recently launched a detailed report on the usage trends of the online social networking sites. Although the report deals with usage trends and behaviour in the UK, it does throw up facts that could be interesting to all.

A Nielson release earlier this year said the time spent on social networking sites and blogs is ‘growing three times faster than overall internet rate’. Some points to note:

- Facebook, touted as the world’s most popular social networking website is visited monthly by three in every 10 people online across the nine markets in which Nielsen tracks social networking use.

- Orkut is the most popular social networking site in Brazil. Infact, it is also the country where 1 in every 4 minutes spent online is on a community site.

- Of every 11 minutes spent online globally, 1 minute is spent on social networking or blogging sites.

- The biggest increase, globally, in visitors to the social networking sites has come from the 35-49 years old group.

- 2/3rds of the global internet population visits social networking sites and blogs.

- The time spent on these sites is growing at over 3 times the rate of overall growth of the internet.

- Time spent on Facebook increased by a whopping 566% from 2007 to 2008.

Some more interesting findings include -> Second Life, which was so much hyped till very recently, saw its traffic decline by some 67% over last year! Woah! Twitter on the other hand has seen a growth of 1679% over the same period! Interesting…Is this because the typical users of social networking sites are looking for something “new’ and when the novelty of one site wears off, they move over to the new entrant? Or is it because as we saw above, the demographics of the users of social networking sites is changing.

Nielsen has made the full report available for free here.  Worth a read if you want a clearer picture of the evolving trends in internet usage. Interestingly, though this has been known for long and is no breaking-news really, but the report confirms that as these social sites become more appealing to advertisers and carry more ads, the users begin to shun them. Till a winning formula for advertising on these sites is developed, it does make sense to start a group or a community and focus on one-on-one interactions with the users.

Depending on what your product or service is and whether your target audience is active on these social networking sites, you could develop a focused approach for your social media marketing effort. Analyse and determine spending time and resources on which specific social networking site will bring in better returns. If your target audience is likely to be on Facebook, there is little benefit in spending time creating a buzz on orkut or bebo. If the service you provide is not likely to find listeners on Twitter, there will be little point in generating 50,000 irrelevant followers on twitter and tweeting to them 20 times a day!

Social Media Marketing is a big investment on your time. It is therefore imperative to be prudent and choose your TA, and the social networking site carefully and then work towards building a strong presence and generating a pull-factor. Start with one site, set up specific goals, assess your progress periodically, fine-tune your strategy, see if you are talking to the right people, generating the right buzz. And once you have made it work, and in the process learnt some valuable lessons, begin duplicating your success on the next social networking site.

It is not uncommon to find someone who invested a lot of time and resources into their social media marketing effort only to be disillusioned and become skeptical of all the hype over social media. Developing a sound strategy before you dive head-on into the murky waters of social media marketing, will ensure you do not end up feeling the same way.

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