Monday, July 13, 2009

Social Networks -- Ubiquitous?

The scariest thing about this report is its conclusion: If your target audience isn’t already on social networks, it probably will be soon! However, according to a study by Anderson Analytics, different audiences will be concentrated on different networks. The soon-to-be-released study was shared with the ReadWriteWeb blog over the weekend; that’s where I found it.

The RWW blog has a good overview of the demographics of users of the 4 major platforms. There’s a substantial amount of overlap in usage. Just visually, it appears that Facebook has the most unique users, followed by MySpace, although the absolute number appears smaller for MySpace. Neither Twitter nor LinkedIn have many unique users. They both have a big overlap with users of Facebook. LinkedIn has almost no “unique overlap” with MySpace.

That squares with a lot of what we already know about users of the 4 platforms. It also provides interesting confirmation of the most interesting report of the day. I found this report from Morgan Stanley on an @mattrhodes Tweet. What makes it intriguing is that it was written by a 15-year old on “work experience.” MS liked it so much they published it, and if your work has anything to do with young people, you ought to read it.

Two quotes:

No teenager that I know of regularly reads a newspaper, as most do not have the time and cannot be bothered to read pages and pages of text while they could watch the newssummarised on the internet or on TV. Ouch! Maybe double ouch!!

Facebook is popular as one can interact withfriends on a wide scale. On the other hand, teenagers do not use twitter. Most have signed up to the service, but then justleave it as they release that they are not going to update it(mostly because texting twitter uses up credit, and they wouldrather text friends with that credit). In addition, they realise that no one is viewing their profile, so their ‘tweets’ are pointless. He says it’s about the profile—fascinating!!

The Anderson Analytics study breaks social media users into 4 segments. According to Ad Age:

Anderson's research breaks down general social-media users into four categories: business users, fun seekers, social-media mavens and late followers. Of those, social-media mavens are the key group, not only because of their high incomes and decision-making power at companies but also because their large social-media footprints can make them brand allies and evangelists, Mr. Anderson said. Fun seekers are also an important group because they are the up-and-coming mavens as they transition from students to employees.

The report also segments non users:

Contrary to what some might think, people who spurn social media aren't tech haters. In fact, they spend as much time as social-media fans surfing the web. But they say they don't use social media for three basic reasons: They don't have the time, they don't think it's secure or they think it's stupid. While the first two groups -- which Anderson labels "time-starved" and "concerned" -- may be swayed to join eventually, don't hold out much hope for the last group: 94% said they will never use social media.

Their commentary about the concerned non users is especially interesting:

The concerned non-users are an older demographic (one-third are retired) who don't use social networks because they're worried about their privacy. However, they do recognize value in social media and may join as they become more comfortable with it.

The study also found that almost 50% of the “time-starved” consumers expected to use a social network within a year.

Hence the conclusion: social networks are soon going to be ubiquitous among all except the oldest Internet users—and they may give in also!

There’s more to come from this interesting study. You can follow Tom Anderson’s blog and the Anderson Analytics website—and do a lot of thinking about where/how to best engage with your target audience!

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