A social networking strategy is not optional. Five best practices for making social networking work for you.
You've all followed the stupendous success of the social networking sites. The latest traffic figures show the power and momentum of this new platform. According to comScore's February numbers, MySpace.com was the second-most trafficked site on the Web after Yahoo, based on page views, and Facebook was seventh. Social networks are a powerful force because of their audience reach and, more importantly, their high level of user engagement. MySpace and Facebook together have a third of the daily visitors Yahoo has but nearly as many page views in aggregate. Users spend hundreds of minutes each month on social networking sites, totaling over 30 billion page views in February, according to comScore.
These usage patterns are astounding, considering Yahoo is the granddaddy of the Web and offers a vast, diverse array of rich content while MySpace and Facebook are mere infants. Clearly, the social networks are giving the major portals a run for their money. Since last May, MySpace's daily unique-visitor audience grew 140 percent, while Google grew 16 percent and Yahoo was essentially flat.
If you haven't yet approached social networking, now is the time to formulate your strategy.
Many online marketers are already there. In addition to traditional banner ads on MySpace, you'll find DJ Ditty, a profile Dell posted to market its music player. You can download posters of DJ Ditty, watch him play air guitar, join 9,000 other people who consider him a friend, and post your comments.
You might also find Tila Tequila, a self-made MySpace celebrity enjoying her 15 minutes of fame. Over 800,000 people consider her a friend and contribute to the 30 million page views she's gotten in her 30-month history. She's been on a magazine cover, featured in "AdWeek," interviewed on MSNBC, and blogged about on the Huffington Post. Now she's in my ClickZ column. If you search Google for "Tila Tequila," you get about 1.6 million results.
We've been working with the top social networking sites to develop innovative promotions for our clients. This has helped us form a point of view about marketing in -- and to -- these communities. John Manoogian III (one of our resident social networking experts) and I worked up this list of best practices for marketers interested in social networking:
The Internet was created to connect people and ideas through an unbreakable network. Many people lost sight of this basic premise until social networks exploded onto the scene two years ago. This phenomenon will eventually turn marketing on its head. Companies, brands, and products will become open source, owned in essence by the community. Marketers won't simply broadcast an advertisement to launch their product; they'll introduce their offerings to a community, make adjustments along the way, build a base of supporters, and through them build a powerful brand.
Think this is just hyperbolic conjecture? Remember, two mega social networks are already in the top 10 most-visited properties on the Web today. If their growth continues, they could overtake the largest property on the Web in a relatively short time. Take note. The social networking strategy is not optional. It's imperative.
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