Friday, May 9

Research Confirms: Social Networking Just Like the Rest of the Internet

A variety of new reports on Social Networking came out this week, all confirming the obvious:

Big generalist sites like MySpace and Facebook still dominate (just like the big content portals of AOL, Yahoo, YouTube, etc.). Niche networking sites are growing (just like their predecessors -- niche blogs, niche content sites, niche video sites).

And mobile is going to be a category killer at some, um, point in the near, maybe far, future. We assume. Look over there! A mobile beta program! With a banner on it!

Facebook is getting all the hype right now, but MySpace continues to dominate:
Hitwise reports that MySpace.com received 73.82% of the market share of U.S. visits in April 2008 among a custom category of 57 of the leading social networking websites. Among the top 10 social networking websites, Facebook ranked second by the market share of visits with 4.8%, followed by MyYearbook, which received 1.33%.
All that debate over Facebook Beacons, and they only get 4.8% of the traffic? Damn hype engines.

Which is too bad, since most marketers know that MySpace is a sink hole for online advertising. Too much clutter, terrible CTRs, limited opportunities for branded content. MySpace TV has more opportunities but even News Corp, MySpace's owner, admitted they have some problems right now attracting advertisers to the largest social network site on the planet.

But despite the dominance of the big social networks sites, here's a recent report about the growing area of niche community sites. Which may be a more accurate place to spend your client's marketing dollars:
Large numbers of US Internet users joined online communities last year, and membership in such groups is now a mainstream activity. Nearly half of US Internet users surveyed for the USC Annenberg School Center for the Digital Future's "2008 Digital Future Project" report said they belonged to a hobby-oriented online community. A full 41% of respondents belonged to an online social community, and one-third belonged to an online professional community.
If you haven't been to Ning yet, then put that on your list of sites to throw out during buzzword presentations. Especially if you can add that the founder also created the web browser. Not a web browser, the web browser.

And Mobile continues to try to become the new access point, like the baby brother who keeps wanting to tag along on your trip to the mall:

eMarketer forecasts that mobile social networking will grow from 82 million users in 2007 to over 800 million worldwide by 2012.

"This population will comprise current online social networkers who are extending their digital lives to mobile as well as a growing number of mobile-only social networkers," said John du Pre Gauntt, eMarketer senior analyst and co-author of the new report, Mobile Social Networks. "Early reports suggest strong user demand for mobile social networks."

Poor Mobile. Still trying to break away from phrases such as "forecasts" and "early reports suggest" and "maybe kind of sort of we think."

Finally, just for fun, what happens when the virtual world blurs into the real world:



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think the time is up for Facebook and for the big social networks such as MySpace generally. I tend to spend more time on niche social networks related to my many interests. For the ones on Ning I only need one sign in. OpenID will also make it easier to use different networks. I've found some really cool ones on http://findasocialnetwork.com