A few weeks ago, @kblucy did a quick poll in her Capstone class for students majoring in Communication – 4 out of 84 students are actually using Twitter. They are all on Facebook or at least 90% of them. Twitter what? No, it’s just the fastest growing network these days. Maybe it’s generational. Or it’s how we use it but we see Facebook slowly sending MySpace to a shelf and Twitter is thinking about doing the same to Facebook after refusing $500 Million from same. It didn’t take long for Facebook to turn around and let ‘Fan Pages’ (companies, celebrities…) be able to update their ‘status’ (just came out last week) which Twitter does. Things are certainly heating up… some talk about collision.
Have you heard of MyYearBook.com? Tagged.com? Tumblr.com? Hi5.com? Bebo.com? … hmm, no? People have different needs, live in different places and use all those tools for different reasons. Depending on your marketing strategies, using those different platforms will have more or less returns.
I thought I’d give a bit of a run down of the different networks we use in our practice and why we use them. But before we go there, I want to say that Personal Branding and Business Branding are colliding. Those students are increasingly growing their personal digital footprint on places like Facebook or MySpace. They will soon be working for corporations and companies. How will their personal representation affect your brand? Why bother sending a resume when you can find everyone online? If they are not online, I would be worried for you though.
– MySpace: Still the largest network, your brand needs to be there and somewhat active especially if your target market is in the younger age bracket. We still see low traffic from this platform.
– Facebook: Its clean look and super organized way to manage your contacts and relationships has definitely worked wonders. It is driving good to moderate traffic, better in the consumer space.
– Linkedin / Plaxo: By nature, they were designed for more professional purposes. I find that Plaxo has been a more open platform in terms of using RSS but the traffic volume coming from Linkedin is higher. Linkedin was web-based from the start and definitely has the biggest market share. Since the fall, Linkedin allows you to update your company profile and help link personal identities. I mostly find those networks powerful to find people and be found.
– Twitter: with 812% of traffic growth, it’s still a small network but indeed posing an interesting threat. The main clue here is ‘Conversation’. Engaging in Twitter means that you can engage better with people and customers that you would not encounter otherwise. The big bonus: you can search real time conversations about products or brands… It’s a very powerful brand monitoring tool [Search.Twitter.com] – You can also organically reach people or brands without the limitations of the Facebook fortress 🙂
– Hi5 and Bebo have been growing very fast respectively in UK/Europe for Bebo and Latin America for Hi5 but are still cumbersome platforms to use with limited RSS connectivity. As you can see, Twitter totally passed those networks during the fall of 2008.
So what now? Being on all the main social networks as a person or a brand is somewhat necessary but if you need to focus on a few only, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin are the best bets, at least in North America.
Remember that Google Search is still your best bet for driving ‘semantic’ traffic and generating web leads to your company website. SEO (search engine optimization) and CPC (AdSense) campaigns are good methods but you’re limited when it comes down to increasing brand trust. Blogging remains the best way to increase better qualified leads in your web pipeline.
Finally, remember that YouTube generates more search volume than Yahoo itself since fall 2008 , so if you can invest, make sure to get into video – blogging.