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June 30, 2007

"How Consumers Use Social Networking Sites" report now available

We just published a new report "How Consumers Use Social Networking Sites".

Here's the Executive Summary:

Social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook have seen tremendous growth over the past two years, attracting a young and engaged audience. Frequent users of these social networking sites not only engage in more activities and have a more positive attitude about these sites, but they are also far more interested in profiles from their favorite companies. Marketers interested in reaching their audiences on social networking sites should: 1) dispense with traditional Web marketing tactics, 2) encourage "friending," and 3) regularly refresh content.

The report is packed with lots of data of both adult and youth social networking site users. Here's a quick summary of the data charts:

- Percent of US online consumers who use social networking sites, by age
- How frequently each age group visits social networking sites
- Percent of each age group that visits major social networking sites at least weekly
- What activities youth do on a social networking site
- Attitudes about social networking sites, e.g. how much they rely on social networking sites to keep in touch with friends, broken out by age and use frequency
- Interest in marketer profiles on social networking sites, by age and use frequency

I've included the last chart here as I found it very interesting that the most frequent users of social networking sites were much more likely to be open to seeing marketer profiles. I'll be publishing a follow-up report in the next few weeks on how marketers can use social networking sites effectively.


One thing to note about this data -- it was conducted in Q4 2006 which is ages in an industry that changes so quickly. The impact of recent events -- like Facebook opening up to non-college students and it's open application development platform -- are not fully captured in these results. We're going out into the field with another survey and plan to report the results in Q3.

For example, researcher danah boyd wrote recently in a blog essay that she observed the beginnings of a class division happening, with "the goodie two shoes, jocks, athletes, or other "good" kids" migrating to Facebook, while "MySpace is home to kids who "didn't play into the dominant high school popularity". The essay has initiated plenty of debate about a particularly difficult topic. I'm personally familiar with danah's research and have nothing but the highest regard for her work and for danah herself. Kudos for her to sharing her observations, controversial as they may be. As danah writes, "One of the biggest problems with studying youth culture is that it's a moving target, constantly shifting based on a variety of social and cultural forces." Absolutely agreed on that.

One last thing: MySpace recently held an event where they released a report "Never Ending Friending" about who is using social networking sites. The report divides social networking site users into six segments, grouped by how they use the sites. The report also looks at how marketing value is created on social networking sites, which I'll be looking at in my next research piece.

Tags: social networking, MySpace, Facebook, danah boyd, ,

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Here are some other interesting facts on Web 2.0 innovations, namely Second Life: http://www.gmi-mr.com/gmipoll/release.php?p=20070423 Definitely good point on how quickly research can go out of date in regards to MySpace, etc. - one minute it may be cool, the next it may not, or vice versa, it may be for a niche and suddenly be used by everyone.

Paul Buchhorn - Online Marketing News

i think its hard to reach the correct audience in the social websites. the user wont see any ads.

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