The use of social networking sites is on the rise, not only in the UK but across the world as well, according to figures. Meanwhile, there are a number of opinions floating around on what marketers need to take on board before they dive into using the platform for their advertising initiatives.
Figures from comScore, released earlier this month, showed that the popular social networking site Facebook became the sixth ranked online property in the world with 275 million visitors in February – a 175 per cent rise on the previous year. In Europe, the site has experienced a 314 per cent increase to around 100 million visitors.
According to comScore, Facebook also has a highly-engaged audience as the average user spends three hours every month using the site. One year ago, usage of the social networking site accounted for 1.1 percent of all minutes spent online in Europe but by February 2009 the figure had increased to 4.1 percent of all minutes.
“Facebook has very quickly taken a leading position across most of the European social networking market despite having a strong foothold in just a few European countries one year ago,” commented Mike Read, comScore managing director of Europe.
Use of social networking sites has also reportedly taken over online shopping in terms of internet visits in the UK. Hitwise figures revealed recently that 9.8 per cent of all UK internet visits went to social networking websites, in comparison to 8.6 per cent on online retail websites.
As for marketers taking advantage of the platform, Econsultancy’s UK Search Engine Marketing Benchmark Report 2009, undertaken in association with search agency Guava, revealed that 65 per cent of companies involved in a poll said they are using Facebook as part of their marketing strategy, with 49 per cent using Twitter.
Other comScore data noted that Twitter more than doubled its visitor base in the US during March, ranking as the top-gaining property in the month – something that could happen in the UK.
But what about what the consumer wants? Research from the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), carried out by the Opinion Matters Tickbox.net panel, revealed that 31 per cent of social networkers do not like constant requests to join groups and download applications. The study of around 2,000 internet users also showed that 28 per cent of people would be happy joining a group if they were offered exclusive content or something relevant and free.
Russell Goldsmith, digital media director at Opinion Matters, commented: “Our research for the IAB should remind marketers that, whilst it might be a cliche, it’s important to understand that when it comes to reaching your end audience within social network environments, content truly is king.”
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