January 17, 2009

Social Networks Are Only As Robust As Their Users

Posted in Social Media, Uncategorized at 9:07 am by R

According to a recent Pew Internet & American Life Study reported on by the Phoenix Business Journal, social networking site usage has risen 27 percent in the past four years!

Leading the pack of these social networking sites:

  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIn

The usual suspects.

But there are many others out there. Businesses, industries, publications and many a start-up site have tried to break into the social media space by creating their own networks.

But these “niche networks” — if you will — often flounder and lack the influence their creator(s) desire.

The broader the social network, the more opportunity for out reach. Plus, the Goliaths of their class (refer to the list above) have functions that allow for specific breakdown of interests, region and a host of other demographic information creating those “niche networks” inside of larger social networks.

Let me make an analogy. It’s like going to a big university and finding your place by participating in the Greek system and pledging the right fraternity/sorority you fit in to; versus going to a small school where where the entire student body is the community.

For both scenarios, groups can have tremendous enthusiasm for their community, but the fraternity/sorority has the opportunity to influence more people by virtue of the fact that they are just one distinct piece of a much bigger crowd.

Continuing on this collegiate theme…

I’ve been using Facebook since shortly after its inception in 2003. As a college student at the time, I was an early adopter. So were many others. Universities clamored to be included in the Facebook network…then highschools…then cities full of professionals…then the world.

The early adopters continued to use Facebook post-college, and, indeed, innovated FOR Facebook to address needs/wants as their needs of Facebook evolved by creating web applications. This is a critical measure for network robustness — are your users helping to make the network you offer better?

Facebook estimates that there are more than 52,000 applications for the network, with an average of 140 more being added per day.

For me, it makes more sense to have a brand presence in a larger space with more reach than to own a smaller space, with potentially limited activity, therefore less enthusiastic users and smaller opportunity to be truly robust.

One thing is for sure. The phenomenon of social networking and social media is no longer a fad, but the norm. Figuring out just how to  measure the impact is something we have yet to nail down as a communications community. But if you or your clients don’t participate, you’ll get no return. Play the game and the opportunities are huge.

The numbers from the Pew study will only go up. Be sure the brands and people you represent are a part of those increasing statistics.



1 Comment »

  1. Belinda said,

    Hi Ladies,

    I enjoyed this post…. Did you see that another study was released last week regarding Twitter? Check it out at: http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/276/report_display.asp

    Pretty interesting stuff..


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