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There’s a lot of talk about using social networking sites in online marketing. We often hear how having a profile at one or several social networking sites is a requirement for any sort of serious internet marketing initiative. Especially in real estate, where personal relationships and sphere of influence are recognized aspects of the marketing process. Hopefully, you know a few things about the demographic that you work with in your business. If so, then you might be able to make use of the information in this Rubicon Consulting report: “Online Communities and Their Impact on Business. Part Three: Web Community and Social Life.” The report is the result of survey information given to 3,036 web users in September 2008. Some of the data points that jumped at me along with a few cobbled together thoughts and reactions after the break.

Who is using which social networking sites?

  • MySpace and Facebook are about tied by respondents in terms of profile use.
  • Those aged 31 and up are as likely to use MySpace as Facebook.
  • Those aged 40 and up are more likely to have no social network site profile.
  • LinkedIn usage peaks in the 31-40 age demographic, though still well below Facebook/MySpace.
  • Twitter, though very small compared to other services in the report, has about twice the profile use of Second Life.

How and why are they using social networking sites?

  • About half of the users ignore invitations to join new sites.
  • 30% feel strongly that they have not made new friends through sites.
  • Respondents felt satisfied with their social networking site experiences.
  • But they don’t feel that social networking sites played an important role in their social life.
  • And they don’t feel that social networkings sites were important to their business life, either.

How good is the data you’re gathering?

Here’s where it starts to get really intriguing, especially if you are using the web for online marketing in a lead generation business like real estate:

  • About 12% of respondents across all age demographics reported putting incorrect information in their social networking profiles.
  • About 25% of respondents give “false personal information when registering to use a site or download something.”

That second number, the ones who give false information to use a site, gets higher the younger the audience gets. What sort of things are they falsifying? Here’s what the report says:

The personal information that’s most likely to get falsified is (in order): Phone number, mailing address, name, and e-mail address. Users are much less likely to falsify non-contact information such as sex and race.

Some conclusions about online marketing and social network sites

None of this is going to be too earth shattering but I figure I should say it anyway. Unless the younger users have a change of heart about falsified data and/or the services become more worthwhile, lead generation businesses using content as a hook (I’m looking at you registration-only MLS boards) will have to make some significant changes. I hear a lot about Facebook in many marketing circles. I don’t hear as much about MySpace. Both sites are about the same in terms of users and engagement. Seems like some opportunities may exist here. They aren’t joining new sites, they don’t think the sites are important to their business or their social life. Yet they are satisfied with the sites. What are they really doing with the sites that makes them satisfied? Or is their satisfaction barrier fairly low, such that being a peripheral feature of their social or business life is satisfactory enough? If you liked this post you may also find value in my review of Forrester’s Technographic Profile Tool.