Hi folks, I'm a noob here so be gentle! :icon_cheesygrin:
I'm going to get you involved in a few of my pet hobbies, including tracking the social media market. I will update this thread when I find new data, but wanted you to contribute as well, so if you have info that you think should be included, please post and I'll update this introduction.
Social Engagement Marketing: Introduction
The past decade witnessed a monumental shift in the use of online media. What was once an obscure habit, chatting in forums and user groups, became a global passion once a few daring start-ups married the concept of social interaction with the ability to invite friends to join their conversation circles.
The trend began with Friendster, a social network that grew to 1 million users in just six months. But Friendster was quickly upstaged by an even faster-growing phenomenon, the music-oriented MySpace, which exploded to 22 million by the time it was acquired by Rupert Murdoch in 2005 for $650 million.
But even MySpace’s phenomenal growth was about to be eclipsed by yet another new social network, Facebook, which in April 2005 had received $13 million from venture capital firm Accel. On Dec. 1, 2009 Facebook reported 350 million members worldwide, — 50 million of which were added in the last 10 weeks alone. Meanwhile, USA Today reports that MySpace has nearly 130 million members.
The astonishing success of Friendster, MySpace, Facebook, and today’s media darling, Twitter, which currently attracts 45 million visitors each month, underscores the startling rise of social networks as a viable consumer medium. And each new social network also showed that certain consumer interests can propel their growth, like dating, music, educational communities, or simply being information junkies.
And the global interest in social networks is staggering. Globally, of the 1.1 billion aged 15 and older who accessed the Internet in May 2009, 734 million visited at least one social networking site during the month. That’s equal to a penetration of 65% of the worldwide Internet audience, according to comScore World Metrix.
Not surprisingly, the social media revolution is reshaping the media landscape. Besides adding friends, which has become a global passion, social networkers like to send each other virtual gifts. One such application, Booze Mail, let Facebook users send other social networker a virtual drink.
According to a June 2009 survey of Beresford Research, Facebook and MySpace users have the largest average number of “friends,” with 138 and 174 respectively. The typical user also belongs to two social networking sites.
Beresford also found that online social networkers spend an average of 22 hours weekly on social networking with the average for women being significantly higher than for men. Facebook users spend the most time with their networking sites, an average of more than 15 hours per week, compared to users of business sites like LinkedIn, who spend an average of 2-3 hours weekly on the social network.
Relying on another methodology, Nielsen noted in September 2009 that users spent an average of five hours and 12 minutes on Facebook in July — up sharply from one hour and 30 minutes the year before. The next-closest big Web site: Yahoo, at three hours and 23 minutes.
In fact, social networks have become so popular that in February 2009 time spent on social networks surpassed that for e-mail for the first time, underscoring the massive shifts taking place in online consumer engagement.
Users have become so reliant on social networks that two Australian girls, who were lost in a storm-water drain alerted their friends on Facebook rather than calling police for help.
In another demonstration of the remarkable power social networks now wield over personal lives, one study published in CyberPsychology and Behavior found that social networks such as Facebook can contribute to lover jealousy.
As one might expect, the social vocabulary is also changing. That point was driven home by the selection of “unfriend” as the word of year in 2009 by the New Oxford American Dictionary.
And dialog changes are also affecting an age-old science, word of mouth. Businesses are successfully leveraging the powerful buzz that social media can generate. One of the best examples of that type of buzz marketing is Korean BBQ firm Kogi BBQ in Los Angeles.
Kogi, a Korean taco truck that drives around Los Angeles, alerts its 52,283 followers to its current and upcoming truck-stop locations via Twitter status updates. Another Twitter aficionado, Naked Pizza, a New Orleans pizza shop attributes as much as 15% of its business to Twitter.
Not surprisingly, social networks are rapidly becoming the source for product information. Nearly six in 10 female college students learn about products on social networks, along with 44% of males. In addition, 80% of females and 76% of males get product information from sites they visit regularly.
The attraction of social networks to markets is manyfold. Below are some of the key characteristics of the social media audience, which provides a sweeping view of this dynamic marketplace:
- Age — The popularity of social networks varies by age group, with certain social nets having particular appeal among certain demographics. According to a February report released by Pew Internet & American Life Project, the median age of Facebook users is 26, while MySpace’s median is 27, Twitter is 31, while the media for LinkedIn users is 40. According to Anderson Analytics, three-quarters of Generation Y, 15-to-29-year-olds, use MySpace, while 65% use Facebook, 14% use Twitter and 9% used LinkedIn. Generation X, 30-to-44-year-olds, and Baby Boomers, 44-to-65-year-olds, are also heavy users of Facebook but connect on LinkedIn more than any other demographic. Generation Z (13-to-14-year-old) social network users are understandably more likely to use MySpace than Facebook.
- Gender — Women in general are heavier users of social networks, making up 56% of the Facebook population. And nearly one-half of female Internet users visited social networking sites, compared with 38% of men. That’s not surprising given that women are considered better communicators than men. And research supports this notion. In the second quarter of this year, 48% of Internet-using women visited a social networks, compared to 38% of men. According to “The Power of Social Networking For Women Research Study” from social networking site ShesConnected, 59% report visiting social networking sites multiple times per day, while 14% log on daily.
- Geographics — Globally, usage of social networks is experiencing similar explosive growth. Early arrival Friendster reports that more than 90% of its traffic comes from Asia where the service has more monthly unique visitors than any other social network. The top 10 Friendster using countries, according to Alexa, as of May 7, 2009 are: Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea, the United States, Singapore, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia and India. Another social network that gained popularity abroad was Orkut, Google’s entry into the social sphere. In May 2009, Orkut garnered 50% of its traffic from Brazil and 18% from India. The Twitter phenomenon is also repeated internationally. In the U.K. Twitter has seen usage jump more than 1,600% in the past year, making it Britain’s 27th most popular site, one notch above News Corporation’s MySpace. In Latin America, Sonico was founded in Argentina in 2007 and has quickly grown to more than 35 million users as of June 2009.
- Usage Patterns — The astonishing growth of social networks globally have greatly affected the social dialog. From public break ups, like that of Jennifer Aniston and John Mayer, to tweeting while giving birth, like popular singer Erykah Badu did in February 2009, social media are redefining the social landscape. Far from being a mere chat medium, as their Internet discussion forum predecessors were, social networks have completely permeated the fabric of life by allowing participants to share anything, from music to photos to videos to articles, and much more. And social networking is much more than just idle talk, with 76% using it to upload photographs and 33% using it to share videos.
If there was a watershed moment in marketing in 2008, it was unquestionably the social engagement campaign that propelled a relatively unknown to the presidency of the U.S. Barack Obama’s now legendary marketing campaign, which relied on a broad set of social engagement and mobile marketing tactics, showed how a leading-edge marketing strategy social engagement marketing really was.
But U.S. presidents are not the only ones that can benefit from social engagement marketing. Another social engagement marketing bellwether was Phoenix resident and mother of three, Stephenie Meyer, whose use of Facebook and MySpace to connect with her readers allowed her to sell a whopping 30 million books in 2008.
If you’re wondering about the viability of using social networks to improve marketing results, wonder no more.