Social Engagement

We're not sure about the marriage between marketers and social networks yet.

We ran across an interesting report on Reuters last week that noted social networking has now surpassed pornography as the most common use of the internet.

The study suggests that as we have become bigger users of social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, the time allotted to other online activities has diminished.

Including, it seems, time spent searching for adult websites, which has dropped from 20% of all searches to about 10%.

What’s also interesting is that a second Reuters report says this is happening while only 42% of internet users have actually heard of social networking. In the U.S., this figure is higher—about 70%. But while 70% of Americans know about social networking, only about 40% are actively involved in a social network.

So as marketers still grapple with the potential value of social networking, there’s still plenty of confusion as to what can be done to reach this audience—and get a response.

Facebook is the network that has gotten most of the buzz lately, blasting out messages during the summer that it has surpassed 100 million users. But that’s a worldwide figure. In the U.S., MySpace is still way ahead of Facebook in numbers—about twice as many total users.

JupiterResearch notes that the current high profile for Facebook, however, has marketers gravitating toward it: 25% of social media advertisers say Facebook is a big part of the 2009 plans, while only 7% say MySpace is.

MySpace currently generates about a billion dollars a year in advertising revenues, while the estimate for Facebook is about $265 million. And JupiterResearch also notes that consumer opinion also favors MySpace: 53% of social networkers in the U.S. prefer it, while 28% prefer Facebook.

O.K. So the overall numbers are big enough for marketers to pay attention to. What’s effective for marketing on social network sites? The Jupiter study said that response rate is similar between MySpace and Facebook. Eleven percent of MySpace users forward information to their friends to influence opinions, while 10% of Facebook users do. But actual ad response on both sites remains low, probably because social networking sites seem more susceptible to the common internet advertising problem of peripherial ads being ignored as readers focus on content. MySpace has some advantage in this area because its redesign allows more ad space on home pages, plus video.

Facebook users, after the Beacon debacle, are still wary of advertising and its potential invasion of their privacy. Facebook’s recent redesign is also getting quite a bit of pushback with users; this might have some short-term impact on its value as a medium as people get caught up in the debate.

With many issues about effectiveness still up in the air, here are some of the things we thing are useful for marketers to consider with social networks:



  1. Anonymous says

    Good words.