I read an article calling Twitter the next Second Life! The article went on to discuss the wasted branding and marketing efforts that still lay waste on virtual islands of Second Life. Now that Second Life was no longer making the headlines of the various marketing rag as the “Next Big Thing”. SL is a space that I do know first had having been involved with an effort to build an in world TELUS Mobility brand store in in back in 2006. Tami Gillespie, the project lead, at TELUS informs me the store is still active in the community and that the residents still are after here for all the latest virtual hand sets that the real world TELUS sells.
Now, that got me thinking about how every new social networking site that comes online continues to erode and fragment the digital entertainment space like cable did in the late 80′s and 90′s. With every new social networking superstar there are the forgotten heros from days gone by. Remember Classmates.com , Friendster , MySpace.com , and Orkut.com [2004 Now owned by Google] just to name a few. Ya I thought you might. You probably even have an old login or two for those sites that still works don’t you? So that said, are they actually forgotten or just left behind by the marketers and advertisers for all things shiny and new? The real fact is that Myspace is still the biggest in the US with 76 million unique visitors a month. It’s odd with that type of high traffic why I have not had a client request a unique myspace campaign in at least three years isn’t it? What impact and sway do those sites still have on brands and business? What are the collective numbers I wondered. Well the number of active users are actually still quite large and when you throw a new social network onto that pile like Facebook or Twitter, they really do start to add up. Marketers are in such a hurry to find the next thing that reaches critical mass that they quite often forget that there are many users that feel forgotten in the social networks of yore!
So let’s throw Twitter into the mix now and see where we are going with this in 2009. I don’t think that Twitter will ever become a Myspace or a Facebook in relation to adopted users or complexity of interactions. In fact at the current growth rate it would take Twitter approximately 30 years to catchup to Facebook alone and that’s only if you were to lock in the current user base and not allow for further growth. Twitter however continues to grow and become more and more integrated with other online sites and services and may impact brand and business in ways we can only imagine. Social networking is what “search” was in the 90’s Yahoo, Excite and Lycos knew they could get the eyeballs but it took Google and Overture to figure out the business model that worked. It’ll come and currently it looks like the two likely ones to do so are Facebook and Twitter.
There are pundants that say blogs, myspace and podcasts and many other social networking site and services are dead. They are not and although they may have flat lined out in growth. The various services retain a large number of users and continue to fragment the attention and eyeballs of millions. As each new service comes online and gains in popularity the fragmentation continues. In fact Friendster, long thought dead, has 61 million unique visitors a month globally. Second life had 1,445,444 users logged in in the last 30 days and Twitter has about 4-5 million active users. You start to add that up and you are talking about a lot of people not watching tv, listening to the radio or reading newspapers. Even if the Twitter numbers drop there is going to be a large base left behind that will have a great influence on products, services and brands. Brands should not continually jump to the next big thing abandoning the last one but actually maintain campaigns and a presence in each of the services to maintain a global presence. Sure you can throw a media buy of display advertising on those sites as they are probably covered in your network buy and it seems easy enough to do so, but really is that the love that your once shiny social network deserves? Why not rotate unique and innovative campaigns though a couple of those spaces a year. Absolutely make sure that the numbers are there and that the audience falls within your target, that only makes sense.
Just because the creative team at your agency thinks that the current social network ing or media darling has become dull and tiresome does not mean that it has. Take a good look at the number of active users there and leave no brand loving money spending social networking fellow behind!