As Facebook is also dominating my kids’ Internet interactions, I wanted to follow up on Bill’s blog about social media among consumers with some information from an additional survey on social networking led by Nielsen. The key point of this study is that participation in “member communities” which include social networking and blogging venues now exceeds email participation and is growing over three times the rate of overall Internet growth. Two thirds of the world’s internet users visited a social networking site in 2008. Social media now accounts for almost 10 percent of Internet time, leading by Facebook. Interestingly, Facebook greatest growth has come from 35-49 year olds and it has added twice as many 50-64 year olds as those under 18. Growth is strong outside the US as well. The study goes one step futher, showing the consequences of this shift for marketers:
Publishers need to understand that the willingness of consumers to generate opinion and co-create content represents a big opportunity to increase audience and engagement on their own sites. They should instigate functionality that enables communities and conversation and participate in the conversation on social network sites.
For Advertisers, the rise of social media is decreasing portals importance as the value of online real estate is increasingly measured by time spent, rather than pages viewed. A key reason why advertising on social networks has not been as successful as on the more “traditional” publishers is because social networks serve a dual role as both the suppliers and consumers of content – advertising should not be about interrupting or invading to the social network experience so it should be part of the conversation and messaging should become more authentic and be about adding value. The search for a model is even more urgent now that social media has broken out of the youth demographic. The messaging will have to be built on the principle of two way conversation rather than a push model.