Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Business Networking on the Social Web

Social Networking blogger An de Jonghe has just published the results of an interesting survey into the use of Social Networks worldwide. An based the results on the responses of over 850 people from 54 countries over the first seven months of this year.

There are a number of interesting results in the survey. The first thing to take note of is An's disclaimer that the survey cannot be considered as scientific. It would be interesting to know how the survey was publicised as some of the demographic results are surprising, not least Belgium being the most active country for social networking and three business sites coming above Facebook as the most popular networks.

Accepting, therefore, that this is probably a reflection of a more mature and business-focused demographic than the average Facebook user (the typical respondent is a male parent between 30 and 40 years old), we can use this survey as an indication of trends in social business networks.

What can we deduce from the survey?

- Initially the survey suggests that people don't want to pay for their social networking memberships. According to de Jongh, only 20% of respondents were prepared to pay for membership. However, this needs to be put into the context of the question. Respondents were asked whether they preferred to pay for ad-free membership or whether they would prefer a free account with advertising. This 'either/or' choice does not tell us whether they will pay a membership fee if they can see value for money. With social networking sites like Facebook offering membership for free, it will be interesting to see which cost models prove popular for social business networks.

- Most respondents join primarily for business opportunities. de Jongh suggests that the future is bleak for niche 'hobby' sites if they don't offer business opportunities, with just 16% opting to join a social network because it caters to their hobby. However, in 'Marketing to the Social Web', Larry Weber suggests that many people will join social networks because of shared interests. Is there a difference in the way different generations use the web?

- 40% of respondents feel it is important to be able to use their own language when posting. With most of the major social networks having a global reach and using English as the common language, is there scope for country-specific networks and can they possibly be as successful given the global e-community? The success of Bebo in Ireland, where founder Michael Birch recently suggested they have a huge impact in the market, suggests that this is possible. In contradiction, three-quarters of respondents to the survey consider themselves global networkers in response to the question 'would you consider joining a network outside your own country?'

Meanwhile, the majority of respondents (54%) don't participate in offline meetings. See my post on Anti-Social Networking for more thoughts on this issue.

The full survey can be found here.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting study. Thanks for sharing. It is amazing how far social networking has come since Friendster. It appears now that social is not a fad and is here to stay. In the near future, everything we will be doing on the Web will have some social networking aspect. The Web is now about connecting, sharing, and collaborating.