The sheer number is social networks you can roll off the tongue has grown dramtically since 2006, when the study was comissioned. Not only this, but the types of social network have evolved too. We are now embracing the likes of Twitter and Tumblr more easily than we were say, 18 months ago.
The Netpop report claims that we now spend more time online socialising than we do shopping. The report also declares that more women (57%) than men (43%) are social networkers. According to research by SheSpeaks, 40% of women in their 40’s had a social networking profile and over 70% of women with children ages 13-17 discussed products on social networks, compared with 62% of all responding women.
There are two key points that need to be raised at this juncture. More people networking on the likes of Facebook or Bebo means a larger target for cyber criminals, as demonstrated with the recent outbreak of Koobface.
Koobface is a Trojan which installs a nasty piece of software onto your PC which directs you towards malign websites as fraudsters try to steal your personal data. Initially spooted on Facebook, this has now spread to Bebo. Incidentally, if you want a quick and easy way of scanning your PC, just in case, use Trend Micro’s Housecall.
The second thing to look at here, is what this means for advertising.
An article in the New York Times declared that “When advertisers invite [social network] members to come to pages dedicated to their products, they can attract visitors only by investing in expensive creative material or old-fashioned promotions like prize contests.
And when they try to take advantage of new “social advertising,” extending their commercial message to a member’s friends, their ads will be noticed, all right, but not necessarily favorably.”
Just because advertisers have a bigger target, doesn’t mean they are likely to hit it. In fact, they could in all reality take a leaf out of the cyber crooks’ well worn book and just approach social network members claiming that they have been caught in a ridiculous photo. That is of course highly unethical – but wouldn’t surprise me.
The next big test will be when the likes of Twitter become susceptible to big advertising dollars. They’ve already seen off Facebook for the time being, but how easily would several hundred million dollars from three or four big non-competing corporations be resisted, and how would the 93% new natives feel about it? Not very happy I would imagine.