Some pretty shocking data for UK fans of the social networking site MySpace was highlighted last week, with the news that traffic to the site has now dropped behind that of microblogging site Twitter.
On one side, this is just more evidence of the amazing rise of Twitter in the UK (leading to London being described as the “capital of Twitter” by its CEO, Ev Williams) – and these site traffic stats actually only tell part of that story, due to the number of people using third-party applications to manage their Twitter accounts.
However what is more significant is such clear evidence for the apparent collapse of MySpace over here.
With the pace of change in the Web 2.0 world over the last few years, it’s easy to forget just how dominant MySpace looked in the UK market back in the early days of the online social networking goldrush. As a reminder, I dug-out a blog post I wrote ‘way back’ in early June 2007 – when it was Facebook that was the freshfaced newcomer showing what would now be described as ‘Twitterish’ growth…
Amazing to think that back then MySpace was sitting pretty on over 100m users worldwide, compared to Facebook’s mere 25m. The story since then has of course been dominated by Facebook – with it’s active user numbers reaching 250m by July this year, while MySpace growth has stalled such that even its dominance in the US social media market seems doomed.
All in all, a useful reminder never to take the social networking world for granted. It is still a far from mature marketplace and there is pretty well constant change going on out there, whether related to new functionality, shifting user demographics, or the simple departure of users altogether. All of which makes it essential for any marketers or fundraisers responsible for social media activity to keep an eye out for data that helps them understand just what’s happening, so as to help guide where to invest time and budgets when looking to engage with supporters online.
Online research and measurement company comScore just released the findings of a study into UK social networking site usage which provides a good picture of just how mainstream social networking has now become – with an incredible 80% of the total UK online population (aged 15+) apparently having visited at least one social networking site in May 2009.
As you might expect, the most active users are still in the 15-24 age group, with 86% of them visiting social networking sites and spending an average of 4.6 hours on them over the month. However, as the table below shows, 67% of the 55+ segment are also shown as using these sites, for an average of 3.7 hours over the month – confirming the fact that social networking is ‘maturing’ as an online activity (which, as I’ve said many times before, is good for online fundraising).
The report also provides a popularity ranking of social network sites for the UK, as shown below, with Facebook now by far the dominant site in this category – with pretty well the same unique visitor numbers as the next four sites put together.
Also interesting to see figures for the growth of Twitter – up a phenomenal 3,226% year on year. That’ll be an interesting growth rate to review in 12 months time…
One of the regular topics that comes-up when I’m discussing the potential of online social networks with fundraisers from outside the UK is just which social networks are dominant in their particular country. Because, contrary to how it might feel from the UK or US perspective, when you go further afield the Social Network world doesn’t start and end with Facebook.
So, I’m always on the look-out for data which helps shed some light on the relative strengths of different sites across different countries – and two such sources cropped-up over the last couple of days that I thought you might find useful, wherever you happen to be based.
The first is from TechCrunch.com, who have just updated their global valuation of social networks. While this is certainly interesting from the overall valuation standpoint, it’s also great that they have provided a link to all of the Comscore base data underpinning their model – which gives a handy snapshot of unique visitor numbers for 26 social networking sites across 17 countries.
The second is a little less robust, but still provides some useful insight into the different sites prevalent in different countries. This comes from Vincenzo Cosenza’s blog, where he has used Alexa and Google Trends for Websites data to develop his own visual mapping of the Social Networking world.
While I’m pointing-out free research relating to Social Networks, you might also want to take a look at the Nonprofit Social Network Survey Report released a little earlier this year. This is US-based, but provides some interesting insights into where and how US nonprofits are active on Social Network sites, which should also be of interest to anyone interested in this area of nonprofit communications and fundraising.
A report has just been released by the Pew Research Centre in the US, detailing research into the profile of US users of the increasingly popular microblogging service Twitter.
Interestingly, according to the report, Twitter users are not as young as you might have expected – with a median age of 31. Compared to 27 for MySpace users; 26 for Facebook users; and a positively ancient 40 for LinkedIn users.
It also examines what other online activities Twitter users are likely to be engaged with and, all-in-all, is a handy – and free – piece of research for anyone considering integrating Twitter into their digital communications or fundraising programme.
You can download the report as a pdf here.
A common question that crops-up when I’m discussing the potential for Web 2.0 approaches to supporter engagement is whether such things as Facebook and MySpace aren’t just the domain of ‘young people’ (a flexibly applied term – usually defined as ‘younger than our supporters’).
One useful source of information to help inform such debates comes from Forrester Research, who have recently released an update to their Social Technographics profile for the UK.
Social Technographics is Forrester’s approach to segmenting the consumer marketplace based on how people engage with Social Media (another term for Web 2.0). Within this model, consumers can belong to one or more of the segments shown above, depending on how high on the Social Media engagement ‘ladder’ they have climbed – from ‘Inactives’ at the bottom to ‘Creators’ at the top.
The percentages shown above represent the proportion of the UK 16+ ‘frequent net using’ consumer market who Forrester’s research say engage at each level. So, as of the end of 2007 they estimate that 37% of frequent net users were in the ‘Joiners’ segment – using social networking sites.
This data can also be cut by age band:
Sure enough, overall engagement peaks in the 16-17 age band, with 71% ‘Joiners’ and 47% ‘Creators’. However, the spread of engagement towards the right of the chart still makes for encouraging reading. In particular in the 45 to 54 band (the entry level to the ‘Baby Boomer’ audience which represents so much untapped fundraising potential) where almost 1 in 5 frequent net users are in the ‘Joiner’ category.
As social networking and other social media applications become increasingly mainstream it’ll be interesting to watch for future updates from Forrester to see just how quickly the engagement of ‘older’ consumers on the upper rungs of the ladder grows.
One thing’s for sure – the numbers will be moving in the right direction for online fundraisers.
I’m afraid that a combination of some especially busy weeks at work and my home broadband going down for a while has left my blog rather sparsely updated since last month.
However, I have had the opportunity to write a short piece for the e-newsletter of the Resource Alliance on one of the subjects I’ve been working on quite a lot recently – Community Fundraising 2.0.
So, while I work on getting the blog back up to speed, do take a read and see what you think – as always all comments welcome.