The top social networks this month, MySpace still dominates..

You know, we don’t talk about MySpace the way we used to. At least I don’t. Perhaps because there are so many great social media stories out there since MySpace came on the scene. One thing though you cannot ignore is MySpace traffic.  the bottom line being that MySpace receives a massive amount of visits; In addition to receiving over 25% more visits-per-visitor a month than Facebook, the site jumped to 72 million unique visitors in June, generating over 1.3 billion total visits. That, my friends, is a lot of traffic.

With that being said, lets look at the numbers as compiled by our friends over at Compete these numbers might seem a little out of whack, but they base the rankings on amount of attention as well as traffic. Thats why some might appear to have more traffic than others. the bottom 10 have more of an ethnic diverse, niche like quality than the top 10 as well.

But given the rush to crank out a social networking group these days, being ranked anywhere in the top 20 is not such a bad thing. It may actually mean you’re making money!

  1. Myspace with over 72 million visitors per month.
  2. Facebook with 22 million visitors
  3. Bebo with 3.5 million
  4. Tagged with 3.3 million
  5. BlackPlanet with 1.9 million visitors
  6. myYearbook with 2.89 million visitors
  7. hi5 had 2.98 million visitors
  8. Classmates had 11 million visitors
  9. Friendster had 1.3 million visitors
  10. Xanga had 3.7 million visitors
  11. Orkut, intrestingly enough had 460,000, but was ranked 11th.
  12. Asiantown came in at 147,949 visitors
  13. Flixter had 3 million visitors
  14. Migente had 1.2 million visitors
  15. Reunion tracked 6.2 million visitors
  16. Quepasa had 177,000 visitors
  17. Tickle had 2.1 million
  18. Piczo had 660,000 visitors
  19. Multiply had 656,000 visitors and last but ceratinly not least and somewhat surprising is
  20. Linkedin at 1.4 million visitors

How many of you have been to these sites and have given them a test drive? Which user interface makes sense? Which do you see continuing to grow and which do not have a snowballs chance in hell? Personally, I may check out Multiply, the rest I am somewhat familiar with, with the exception of the hispanic sites. I am surprised as well by where Orkut is. With summer being a time when we spend more time outside than in, lets regroup in September and see where we’re at.

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Are social networks good for society?

Some claim that being in a social network closes us off from the rest of society. To a certain degreee that might be true. In this freakonomics blog post find out what 6 distinguished social media observers feel are the pros, the cons, the good the bad and the ugly of what social networks bring to the table.

Social networks tied to every product, service and brand…Don’t laugh.

So the logical evolution of social networking is taking hold. In todays volatile marketplace, the success of manufacturers, advertisers, marketers, and media companies in creating long-term value and stickiness depends primarily on their ability to develop great stategies wrapped around great value propositions quickly. So what better way than to use the power of social networks?

I use the terms great strategies and value props. because todays consumers are as discerning as they have ever been. Why? Because they are armed to the teeth with more information than they know what to do with. And now with social networks, the ability for consumers to talk and share and recommend virally, is as big a challenge for marketers et al. as it has ever been.  But it can also be a major home run if done right.

That strategy appears to have taken flight with Viacom for instance. You may not know Viacom as well as you do their MTV properties. Having said that, MTV has recently announced that is jumping back into the social-networking game. In 2005, News Corp. outbid Viacom for social-networking giant MySpace.com. Since then, Viacom has largely been on the sidelines in the growing market. Now the company is focusing on creating a vast array of highly targeted Web sites that are loosely connected and focus mostly on programming such as VH1 Classic, Jackass, and Sucker Free on MTV.

When we mentioned product-centric strategies earlier, this is a case in point where Viacom/MTV has a solid brand they are looking to grow and expand  into new markets and new channels using all of the resources available to it. One of them being social networks.

MTV’s highly-targeted web sites will be at the core of the company’s digital efforts. MTV sees its content as its strength, and thus they have  decided to wrap that content with the power of social networking. In the past year, the company has constructed 32 new sites. The idea is to create a type of assembly line for Web sites. Those sites that find an audience will continue to be nurtured and those that don’t will be stripped down and “reskinned,” or refitted for the next experiment. Kind of like the 10 day “look-see” contracts athletes get in professional sports. They essentially have 10 days to impress. If they don’t, away they go. 

Interestingly enough, the company  doesn’t plan to spend a lot of cash in promoting the sites. The reason being that they have the utmost confidence in their content and the viral ability of the Web to spread the word. Given that lack of faith, I’m going to give Viacom/MTV a 10 day look-see to see if this particular strategy pays off. It almost gives you the sense that they are saying,”we love your idea, we just don’t want to sink much money into it, until it works”.

While killer business processes, off-the-hook customer service, and bleeding edge technology all play vital roles in todays web 2.0 world, companies that create and buy into solid product-centric strategies and processes with the customer in mind, will be those that build valuable loyal brands and profitable businesses beyond the 21st century. It remains to be seen though if this particular strategy will pay off for Viacom/MTV.

The Public Perception of Social Networks

Unless you have been living under a rock….

I’ve been using that statement a lot lately and it seems to be very appropriate these days given the state of all things technology related. between the iphone, MySpace, Facebook, Android, Open Social, and all things in between, it is a great time to be a digital consumer. Or is it?

You know when AOL first came on the scene, Everyone had the same thought. What is this going to do to the way we communicate? What will AOL do to the social fabric of our lives. That is the exact thing happening in the social networking world. If you would like to stand and admit that you too had an AOL account at one time, it’s ok. We’ll pause.

Ironically AOL was the beginning of true social networking, through AIM. And if you really want to know the truth, AOL’s phenomenal growth wasn’t based around internet access. It was the ability to chat with others. To communicate with others. THAT is social networking. Finding people with similar interests that you could connect with. The real difference now, are the tools that are available to the common user to create and enhance their social networking experience or communicating experience. Social networks have become social media sites as well.  There is now a distinction between the 2. There is a social media type site and  social networking type sites. The tools now available allow users to share more than just words. Its now photos, music and video. Those are social media sites. Like Youtube or Flikr. Nothing new there right?

Because of this, social networking sites are the most frequented websites on the web. In fact according to Hitwise, the demo of 18-24 users hit Facebook more than they visit porn sites! So now instead of what is construed as a one way relationship with a porn site for instance, is passed up because now this demographic can go to Facebook and have a better overall user experience. Amazing when you think about it. Content isnt’t king, porn isn’t king. Social networking is king!

But what is the overall public perception of social networks?  That seems to be changing as well. The perception for some is, “I’ve heard about them, but I just don’t know enough.”. While others have jumped in with both feet. and some have dipped toes in the water. This is perception can be blamed on the media, marketers, and word of mouth.

Depending on the demographic, and this is no surprise as your 15-24 age group are always going to be the early adopters, the social networking experience is going to be different in regards to perception and usage, for each and every group. However this is changing as well as users realize that there is more out there besides Facebook and Myspace. Check this blog for older posts about the top rated social sites in business, video, and music. To read an interesting and no to surprising article about class distinction in social networks,  read this article by dannah boyd.

 the bottom line about social networks is that people are finding their people, their packs, their groups. Just like they did on the playground as children, it is now taking place with social networks. And you know what? There is nothing wrong with that. You see, the public perception of social networks right now is skewed, because THEY DON”T ENOUGH to make an educational, much less personal decision on whether to use them yet. So they base their opinion on their perception. It is changing though and rather quickly as statistics show that one of the fastest rising demographic of users on Facebook are the 35+ group. And of course as a side note, you know this is going to piss off the 18-24’s who will now have to latch onto something that is cooler.

But public perception of social networks is still skewed across the following words and statements:  Uncertainty, a time drain, a resource drain, zero value proposition, spam extenders, virus friendly, a place for stalkers to thrive etc etc. In fact, The blog Switched reports that according to a new study by an employment law firm, approximately $264 million U.S. dollars are lost in man hours because of Facebook.

The thing to understand here is that like any relationship, you get out of it what you put into it. Whether that is online or offline. The only way you are going to see whether a social network is for you is to take one for a test drive. It doesnt neccessarily have to be MySpace or Facebook, though those two are not bad starting points, but the only way to find out is to jump in.

It may enhance your computing experience or it may be a detriment. It totally depends on what you want to to achieve. Is it for business? Then there are a lot of purely social networks geared toward business and building relationships that will fit your needs. Start with Linkedin.

Just remember, in the end, you’ll get out of it, what you put into it. Just don’t base your opinion on what you have read or heard from someone else. What DO YOU think their perception is? What was your perception before you tried them out? What were your expectations? What are your expectations now?

The growth of social networking

By 2011 about half of U.S. online adults and 84% of online teens will be using social networks. This according to eMarketer. What this points to is an evolution or a continuing evolution of children who currently are becoming aquainted with and more comfortable with, “How social networks work”. This also points to the greater value that adults will put in their social network. “Their” being the operative word.

Furthermore, this raises a very poignant question. Though Facebook and Myspace are the darlings of the moment, can they continue the momentum that they can surely take credit for? Will they be “The” players in 3 years?

As it is right now today the evolution for most users looks something like this:

Club Penguin/Webkinz—->Myspace—->Facebook—-Linkedin.

I use Linkedin as the last one for professional reasons but really after Facebook, the usage fractures into a 100 different niche based social networks. This usage in the next 3 years will continue to evolve into hundreds of other social network sites.

My educated guess, though they (MySpace and FB) will still be viable, there will be others that will come along, if they have not already, that provide more to their niche than the current duo do. Here is the reasoning. Myspace is for teens/bands and tire-kickers and fringe users. Facebook is for college aged and older users who have more of a familiarity with the social network and all that it can provide.

So in 3 years when your current crop of Facebook users for instance, graduate and possibly outgrow the Facebook newness/coolness factor what do they do then?  What do adults who are currently using Facebook do in 3 years? The same thing I suspect that AOL users did once they found out that AOL wasn’t the only game in town. Everything will evolve. Including the knowledge and expereince of the users. Thus the reason that by 2011, social networks will be so entertwined in our daily lives that it will be assumed that you are part of some SN.

The good news, and really none of this is bad news, but worldwide Ad spending will increase at a healthy 20-39% each year between now and 2011 according to eMarketer. In the U.S. alone social network ad spending is expected to rise to $2.7 billion in 2011. Currently the pie is being divided naturally towards Facebook and MySpace, but look for that to change significantly with the growth of niche and marketer oriented sites.