Like Me? Follow Me.
As you’ll recall in a previous post I said I’d tell more about our view of the increasing importance of social networking sites. At the end of my article “The Rise of Social Networks - a new marketing opportunity?” I suggested that in time we believed sites like Facebook and Myspace could become even more important than Google.
I have a deep-seated belief, probably grounded in the 20thCentury, that people will always trust the people they know before they trust computers and that if they have a network they can call upon for advice they would probably use it in preference to a search engine programme. For example if I wanted to take a client out to lunch in London, I would probably ask my friends where I should go rather than Google because they know me, they’d understand the type of place I’d be looking for and provide good suggestions – and this comes from someone working in search. The problem has been the availability of the individual’s network to provide the advice when needed, however, it now seems that many social networks are reaching the critical mass where this might be possible.
A great example is LinkedIn, my network of people to which I’m connected now extends to almost 5 million people. If I’m looking to recruit someone or find someone to talk to in a particular company I can pose a question and get a very quick response with recommendations or contacts.
If one of my children want to find out more about a band they ask their networks on Facebook where they can find out more, not Google. It doesn’t seem such a step to me that as personal networks grow this type of use will continue increasing.
That’s why I was very interested to read an article on Dave Chaffey’s blog which presented some data by Hitwise on the sources for traffic for the Topshop website. It reavealed that Topshop now gets more traffic to its website from MySpace than it does from both Yahoo! and MSN search combined. Many people might see this as symptomatic of the decline of these once powerful engines but I like also to see it as indicative of the increasing importance of Social Networking.
Obviously, active social networking is not for every business yet but if you’re targeting an appropriate demographic it’s certainly something to be considered.