Sizing up the Social Network Market

In marketing – whether it’s online or off – it’s never a bad idea to “go to the people.” If you can find a venue where lots of your buyers are hanging out, it only stands to reason that you should be there, too.

The biggest argument for using social network marketing as a tool for finding new customers can actually be summed up that simply. Of course, there are other benefits, too, and we touched on some of those in the last section. You should definitely be looking to deepen the ties you have with your existing customers, not to mention improve your search engine positioning… but if you’re like most companies or self-employed professionals, opening new accounts is going to be your biggest concern.

Just how many potential accounts are out there? Let’s have a quick look at the numbers:

Facebook, possibly the “king” of all social networking sites (not counting myspace, which has more members and a longer track record, but little commercial value for most of us since it tends to be popular with teens), boasts more than 500 million members – including 175 million who log on every day, and 100 million who access the site through mobile devices. That’s an awful lot of prospects, no matter what business you’re in.

While not at Facebook’s level, Twitter has more than 105 million users and is gaining ground at the rate of 300,000 new members every day. That’s more than 50 million tweets daily, covering members’ views on business, sports, politics, personal life, and everything else under the sun.

It would be easy to think of LinkedIn as a “smaller” social networking site, given that it only has around 50 million registered users, but that number misses the point. Because it’s focused on professionals, networking, and business topics, LinkedIn is the straight up shot to Facebook’s cocktail – a more concentrated venue for social network marketing. It’s a place to do business and meet others to do business with; you don’t have to contend with people looking to catch up with family and friends there.

The rest of the social networking market is as hard to define as it is to measure. Some would count YouTube, which registers upwards of a billion hits each day; others would mention blogs, as well as sites like, Stumbleupon, or Flickr, but none of these are important enough to detail on their own… yet.

The point to take away isn’t that these secondary sites don’t matter, but that the social networking market is huge, and growing all the time. It could be that next year will bring a more popular venue; how many of us thought Twitter would be a major force just a few years ago, or that Facebook would become a hot place to advertise? If you’re going to use social networking effectively, you’re going to have to stay on top of these trends and adjust, but luckily the strategies that work with today’s major players translate to other sites, as well, so you just need to get the fundamentals down.