Over 850 people from 54 countries took part in the online survey which was held from January 07 till July 07 on www.titans-consulting.com/adj/. While the survey has no pretense of being scientific, I believe it offers some insights in who, why and where people are using social networks today.
- Who was Joe Average who filled out this survey?
- Which social networks are most popular?
Answer: The top 10 is equally shared by professional as well as social (friendship) networks. However Linkedin clearly takes the lead when it comes to business networking, or networking as such, in the demographic group we have queried.
- Why do users join a social network? What is their number 1 reason?
Answer: Here I admit I was surprised: a whopping 89% put "professional use" as their number one reason to join an online community! 53% uses it to socialize and to stay connected with friends and a meager 16% is interested in joining a social network if it caters to his/her hobby. Keeping in mind the old predjudice (from people who are not using social networks obviously) that online communities are predominantly used by teenagers who like to chat (socialize), our survey states the opposite. Also, it makes you wonder about the surge of specialized networks (niche networks) and their chances of survival if they offer no business advantage.
- Is it important that you can use your own language?
Answer: Even with globalization and the increasing use of English, the majority seems to think it is important to be able to use one's mother tongue when interacting online (40%). 31% feels it is convenient but not necessary; 28% doesn't feel it is important. If you're launching a network today, wouldn't you want to score points with your potential users by offering them the possibility to use their mother tongue?
- Would you rather pay a membership fee to have an ad-free network or do you prefer a free account with advertising?
Answer: 20% of the users is willing to pay for the privilege to have an ad-free community, while 80% is not. I guess it would be interesting to calculate how much money you could earn with - say- Google Adwords (the preferred partner for most small networks) and by attracting 20% of your estimated public and charging them a membership fee...
- Would you join a network because someone famous is a member?
Answer: 20% of you would! When A Small World (a so-called "gated community" which is invite-only) reportedly counted Paris Hilton and Tom Cruise amongst its members, everyone and his poodle wanted to join. One Korean network has used this trick successfully by openly anouncing which celebrities were members, but strangely enough I haven't seen this marketing trick anywhere else.
- How much time do you spend on your social network(s)?
Answer: The majority visits his/her site(s) several times a day (37%) or once a day (18%). 22% visits several times a week. That adds up to 77% of all respondants who are intense networkers -much more than what most surveys seem to suggest. The fact that many people were introduced to this survey through one network or another obviously embellishes the results but even so, I'm wondering whether social networking is establishing itself as an accepted business practice (similar to prospecting) which people can do during business hours instead of a tool to find a new date?
- Would you consider joining a network outside your own country?
Answer: Three quarters of all participants consider themselves true cosmopolitans, while 13% is only interested in local communities and 13% would go as far as neighbouring countries.
- What are the top 3 things you do when turning on your PC?
Answer: While email and surfing the Internet occupy the first two places, checking your social network profile comes in third with 44%! It has become considerably more important than Internet banking, online shopping or gaming, adding to the notion that for a growing group of Internet users, social networking has become an integral part of their online identity and habits.
- Do you participate in offline (face to face) meetings?
- Do you use video networks?
Answer: 81% off all participants do not use video networks. Is video networking a hype or has the business world yet to discover/appreciate the power of video? I am sure it is the latter.
These results and more will be used in "Social Networks Around The World: How is Web 2.0 changing your daily life?" which will be out on Amazon later this year. A Spanish translation is in the make as well. Meanwhile you can visit or join the Social Networks Around The World (SNATW) community if you've become interested in the networking phenomenon.If you have questions or remarks, you can leave a blogpost or, alternatively, contact me directly at:
An De Jonghe
adj AT ulysses-consulting.com