Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Business implications of social networking

I've given many talks and written even more articles in the last year or so on the need for businesses to wake up to the potential - and threat - posed by social networking. Which was why I was attracted towards the Business urged to woo social network figures article in the FT on 15th Jan 08. It's all about how viral marketing campaigns via Facebook and the like are of ever growing importance. But also points out that companies embark on them at their own risk as they are "high maintenance". If handled badly they have an even greater potential to destroy brands too. You can read the full Hitwise/Experian press release here which also has a link to download the full Impact of Social Networking in the UK report.

I was also interested to note that Christmas Day was the busiest day ever for social networking sites as everyone wished each other Happy Christmas. Much as everyone sends a text at midnight on New Year's Eve - only to find them arriving days later!

"Facebook was the third most visited website in the UK over the Christmas period, pushing eBay into fourth place for the first time since January 2005. Furthermore, in 2007 social networking sites such as Facebook, Bebo and MySpace accounted for one in every five Internet page impressions in the UK, and their mass appeal and importance to companies will only increase in 2008."

Although there is huge potential in 'data mining' the content on social networking sites, site owners have to do this in a way that will not drive away their users. Facebook seems to have over stepped the mark with its intrusive monitoring and use of "your friends bought this so why don't you" information. Indeed, although I am a Facebook addict, I am getting sick and tired of the dross which appears everytime I sign in. Just as I employ spam filters on my email, I now need this on Facebook too. If Facebook really is worth $15b, it has to find an effective way of monetizing itself without upsetting its extremely fickle users. Not an easy task!

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