I'm always on the hunt for interesting information about how folks are using the web, and how that translates to relationship building....for business sake. Although I'm in cutback mode when it comes to e-newsletters, I do like the info the folks at Hitwise puts together. Hitwise is one of the leading sources of online competitive intelligence. And you may want to have them email you a copy of their November 2006 "US Consumer Generated Media Report". There's a lot of good stuff packed into the 22 pages of the report, but I'll just touch on a few I found interesting.
- People are spending a great deal more time on social networking sites
In September 2006, 5% of all website visits were to the top 20 social networking sites – a 94% increase compared to a year ago. Not only are they going to these sites, they are also spending over 27 minutes on average on these sites, compared to only 11 minutes for the overall website average.
The growth of these sites is being characterized by a term the report uses called “the network effect.” Basically this means that the more people join these sites, the more content gets created and people to interact with, which causes users to spend more time on the site interacting with each other and sharing content.
- More commerce is being driven through social networking sites
According to the report, the growth in web traffic to sites like MySpace is also driving up traffic to commercial websites. For example, upstream traffice from MySpace to companies Hitwise categorizes as being in the telecommunications industry grew by 89% between March and September of 2006. An 83% increase was seen by companies in the shopping and classifieds category, and a 77% increase for those in the Banking & Financial Institutions category.
- Photo and video sharing site traffic is growing rapidly, with its primary source of this traffic coming from search engines
People are uploading more and more of their own content to the web. They are also finding more and more of content by way of search engines. And with more and more people signing up for broadband access, they’ll be able to upload more and more of their own stuff. Which will generate more and more reasons to interact with people for personal and business reasons. There’s nothing more (and more) to say about that!
I’m sure many of you working in businesses that don’t sell consumer electronics, music, dvds and other hot sellers that social networking sites seems perfect for are probably wondering why this would be of interest. Well even though there may not be a direct link to what you do, there are some things that can be applied. Like GoDaddy.com founder Bob Parson’s told us in an interview, which is also proven to be true by Hitwise, “People love using the Internet for convenience, transacting business and communicating with each other.” And sites like MySpace, YouTube, Flickr and others have been great at creating loyal followings by enabling users to actively participate in growing the community. And it's not just the Web 2.0 companies taking this approach, Intuit has created www.JumpUp.com, which is a nice social networking-ish site aimed at helping start-ups get off to the ground faster. So if you can create a web presence for your business that provides solid content and encourages collaboration, you’ll give prospects and customers alike a great reason to willingly interact with you. And it’s becoming increasingly simple (relatively speaking) to drop in all kinds of relevant content from sources all over the web to enhance your own content. Just look at all the “bling” (aka widgets) that are being created for blogging services like WordPress and TypePad and you’ll see how easily this can be done.
In the end, willing, active participants are more easily converted to actual customers, who can become real advocates for your business. Just a few words to the wise.