April 1, 2009

Social Media: Racoons and Evangelists

There is certainly no shortage of chatter right now about the explosion of social media. "It’s everywhere”, a buddy said the other day. But the Twitter numbers are mind blowing. There has been a 1400% increase in membership in the last 12 months. Add to that, the largest growth has been in the 35-49 demographic.

And some wonder why venture capitalists keep pouring money in to this project. It's safe to say they aren't waiting for banner ads to recoup their investment. It's about the numbers and with 10 million members in three years, that's a lot of influence.

Twitter Pro or Premium or whatever they will call it, will bring in revenue but like Google, there is enough evidence to suggest money could be made behind-the-scenes.

The Social Media Big Three.

So Twitter is now a legitimate player along with Facebook (175 million) and MySpace (250 million). But with the current American auto industry mess fresh on our minds, it's important to note that companies don't necessarily stay on top forever.

Estimated revenue for these sites in 2008 (figures in USD)
MySpace $800M | Facebook $300M | Twitter $0

A warning from The Hacks.

In this week’s Media Hacks podcast - a must listen - Christopher S. Penn cautions anyone who thinks they can make a living solely from focusing one social media site. There are examples of people doing very well at that, but there is concern if the space goes under.

Diversify your social media portfolio.

Penn says that if you pour all your time and resources into Twitter (for instance) and for some reason they go out of business, so could you. But if Twitter is part of your overall strategy – which in many cases is a wise move – if it goes out of business, you can shift your energy to other places.

Let's check again with those venture capitalists.

Too often those who run screaming into the night saying "how will we monetize this thing" are measuring it against mainstream metrics and advertising. Meanwhile social marketing and behavioral scientists are watching all of this very carefully.

Social spaces, our need to connect and our desire to build communities is not going to change. You may just want to remember that there are millions of people still not immersed in the social media. Yet.

Would you be happy with a 7-share?

It's difficult to determine how many people are participating in social media today. Many have multiple profiles on several sites but if we were to guesstimate that half a billion was the number, that's still only 7% of the world's population. So odds are, you have met plenty of people who haven't even tried this thing that's "everywhere".

Something to keep in mind if client strategy is part of your job. It's an important part of the strategy, but dangerous to assume you will get more buy-in than raccoons in headlights. And simply having a Twitter account without understanding what it can do for them or how to properly use it, is a dangerous game as well.

Have you tried social media? Have you found people who have not tried it yet? What are your thoughts on companies embracing social media?

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