Monday, March 23, 2009

The Social Networking Social Phenomenon

The current economic climate has transformed social networking into a ballooning industry of interest. 50% of all marketing is now being targeted towards social networking strategy. Why? Because social networking involves a progressive phenomenon that is catching on quickly throughout the world. We are embracing our natural instinct to form ourselves into social groups for survival.

To better understand this we would have to discover who is using social networking, how and in what groups. Here are a few examples to get an idea of how to reach your target market or demographic to market your business.

First of all, although I have stated before that baby boomers world wide are gaining interest in social networking, it is important to know in what way. Current research suggests that the Generation Y social networking group interest, although higher in usage, has plateaued and in some cases decreased. While Baby Boomer usage is skyrocketing by as much as 35-45% annually. Needless to say, our older population is catching on and they are something to watch.

If you would like to read something FASCINATING check out the Nielsen Rating data on social networking across the globe. It backs up what I've already said about aging demographics and also what I have mentioned before about the obvious rise of Facebook over Myspace.

Also, what you will find is that countries like Germany and Switzerland are greatly on the rise in internet social networking. But what is more important and noted in the Saudi Gazette is that social networking is shifting the way the Middle East think. It notes, "Blogging and Facebook and so many other things have opened up avenues for political participation in various forms, for personal participation, for the creation and construction of new identifies, and for the ability of people to form new relationships which in the past wouldn’t have been possible".

It can be ascertained that this fact is more important than physical numbers.

That said, and I'm just throwing this in for grins, it is now suggested by a anthropologist at Oxford that genetically primates are only able to handle a capacity of 150 members in any one given close knit group. There is a law of diminishing returns after this figure which serves us negatively. So, online social networking works at it's very finest with groups of this general size. Beyond that, it becomes something close to television static.

But there are endless groups that one can belong to of various types, don't be worried. Like, for instance, the tree hugger group that advocates for green living. And there is the Indian group that collects, yes, all people who share a general interest in the country of India.

As you can see there really is no end in sight.

Buckle up tight.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Social Networking, Say What?

The Austin Business Journal and about 20 other news sources in the blog-o-sphere are reporting that social networks are now more popular than emailing on the Internet. Between FaceBook and LinkedIn, the interest in communicating with friends, family and collegues is now in social networking direct mailing services. The reason for this is the ease of mobile internet access in cell phones.

China is continually outpacing the U.S. in the social networking revenues. The U.S. just hasn't quite yet found a way to make it profitable, even though the phenomenon is wildly popular. China's corporation QQ achieves this through digital items and casual game revenue, two concepts that the U.S. is slow to grab a hold of. Second Life or a virtual pair of Chanel sun glasses for your avatar anyone?

Pro Blogger considers what is a better social networking tool, Twitter or Blogging. The final tally is that they are inherently different and therefore cannot by chosen between. The services
support each other. Twitter drives traffic in a fun way to the blog. And blog content is achieved through browsing Twitter. Makes sense.

SEO Scoop is very much in the thinking that blogs are the replacement solution to the idea of a formal website. The problem that the blog solves over the conventional static website is that it can be constantly updated with content and is interactive. Also, information can be categorized for easy access. It is less expensive for these purposes.

Top Ten Blogging advocates that when a business takes a blog live, it should reflect the orginal website in theme and content. Even with a basic Word Press it is relatively simple to integrate a background that reflects the business's overall design. If a business is going to have a static website and a blog, they need to synch in style and content.

But remember, there are content rules.

One Spot Blogger states that there are three basic rules for business blogging that make it useful and successful.

1) Focus on your customer, not your wares.
2) Give them something useful.
3) Have a unique perspective.

The whole point about a business blog is that it educates and connects. And plus, it's inexpensive. And we all like that addition to our profit margin.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

What's the Big Deal About Social Networking?

Ever wonder what happens when the Google search on yourself or your company reflects negative PR? Fear no more, a tarnished past can be rectified by what we call in the business, a scrubber. These hired professionals make a living by cleaning up an image online by providing positive content and also asking sites (and sometimes paying them) to remove comments that are not in your best light.

So, you can see that your online image is important. But what does that mean?

Mitch Wagner of Information Week equates social networking for business online to that of business conference hall chatter. Often what people talk in the hallways at conference centers is far more interesting than what happens in the formal sessions. People have a tendency to believe and value what they hear from people that they trust.

Just to make that conversation interesting let's start a little hall chatter of our own here.

The big news this week is that FaceBook has decided to not only rescind it's stance on changing the terms agreement for it's users but is actually trying out a social networking form of democracy. Users now have 30 days to contribute content and debate about what terms they are willing to agree with. FaceBook has stated publically that they greatly underestimated the sense of ownership that users felt about their profiles and content.

Google is moving more and more towards integrating social networking into their system by adding Friend Connect. Blogger, also owned by Google, can now be integrated into your social network by a log of "followers". What makes this service particularly interesting is that the service also allows it's users to follow the blog interests of others.

Also, Google is the latest to jump onto Twitter. Hurrah!

Other interesting news on the social networking front is that MySpace is moving towards offering their own e-mail service. And a new social networking tool Ginx is now offering the beginnings of a database for choosing from catagories of interest on Twitter. It's the little gadgety things that make life interesting as well as functional. Rock on!

You think this is all very impressive? Think BIGGER. China now sports a social networking service, QZone, that is significanlty larger than FaceBook (and steadily growing).

It's getting crazy out there and we love it.