Visiting social networking and blogging sites is now the most popular online activity according to a new Nielson report, outpacing email. The study found that two-thirds of the world’s population visited a social networking site in 2008, with Facebook leading the way. According to Nielson owned Brandweek’s summary of the study, Facebook gets monthly visits from 3 out of 10 Internet users in nine global markets.
While the audience for social networks started out as a younger demographic, this has changed significantly – last year Facebook added twice as many 50-64 users as those under 18 years old. Kurt Hanson’s Radio and Internet Newsletter yesterday summarized several articles on the social media explosion. Edison Research’s Tom Webster recently reported that 60% of a country music stations audience is on at least one social network (42% are on Facebook).
From my personal experience I can tell you all of this is true. I got on Facebook about six months ago, mainly to keep track of my teenage daughter. Once there, I found a large group of my graduating high school class, quite a few college connections, distant cousins, siblings of friends, and nieces and nephews. Now I check it daily for the fun of it, hear from my connections often, and get requests from friends that want to connect. It’s a new conversation that runs through my life connecting me with people from all parts of my life. It’s fun, addictive, relevant (to me) and compelling.
Like many new online media, audience growth is outpacing spending on social media sites at this time, but that should change as advertisers and agencies adapt strategies and better understand how to use social networks.
Stations should be building their online social networks, and I don’t mean by assigning the task to the part time overnight guy or the webmaster. If you’re a business owner or manager, and you haven’t started to personally spend time with facebook, start today – it’s the only way you’ll really understand it. Get smart about social networking.
It’s all happening online, on Facebook and a few other places, and the more time you spend with it, the more you understand that it’s not just about a website, it’s a culture changing behemoth of a trend that spells enormous opportunities to create relationships and interact with your audience.