Infographic Skews the Numbers
Social media sites rule half the internet. Or at least that’s what the Graphic Design Blog says in their recent infographic that provides a look at the top 5 social media sites. The stats would have us believe that there are currently 2.8 billion social media users hanging out on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Reddit and StumbleUpon.
The U.S. lays claim to 206.2 million of those internet users with a reported 71.2% of those being on Facebook. It would be interesting to know how many of those Facebook profiles are active and how many are inactive. According to Eli Fennell, writer for Google+, these Facebook numbers may not be as impressive as they appear on the surface.
Facebook may get somewhere between 50-60% of their registered users as monthly active users, but that means 40-50% do not use Facebook monthly, let alone daily, so by that standard, Facebook isn’t having unbridled success with engaging all of its registered users either, and that’s leaving aside the question of how many of their active users are actually unique users, as opposed to those who may have multiple, possibly several, Facebook accounts or not be real people at all.
While this is coming from the competition, it’s still something to be considered. The numbers may at first sound phenomenal but they’re not giving a true picture of how many people are actively using Facebook when you take into account inactive users and those with multiple accounts. It’s more the number of how many profiles the social hangout has collected.
Social or Commercial?
What started out as a way for friends to stay in touch and share interests, is becoming increasingly commercial as retailers see the potential for using these social sites to market to the huge online communities. Traditional advertising through print, TV, radio and online can be expensive and take a big chunk of a business’ budget but with the use of sites like Facebook, merchants are finding a goldmine of free word-of-mouth advertising. So now it is in the best interest of eCommerce to convince consumers that sharing your shopping experiences and purchases with every one you know and don’t know is the “in” thing to do.
What ever happened to individuality and independent thought? Since when were women so fraught with fear over buying the perfect blouse that they had to consult several hundred of their “best friends” on Facebook before they could make a decision? And now they also need those same several hundred friends to approve their purchase so they can feel good about themselves. Retailers call it “sharing” but in actuality it’s just another term for marketing and they’re smiling all the way to the bank with those saved advertising dollars as they turn us all into virtual sandwich boards.
For better or for worse, social networking and social advertising are here to stay. Whether we chose to buy into the hype is up to us.