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Social Networking Goes Big Business 68

PreacherTom writes, "It is no secret that sites like Facebook and MySpace are big hits among students. Big business is catching on to their possibilities too. Even in the wake of online stalking scandals, companies such as JP Morgan Chase, Apple, and Burger King are building whole marketing campaigns around social networking sites, to the tune of an estimated $280 million in 2006. It appears to be working: take the King, for example, who has amassed more than 120,000 'friends' that opt (for rewards) to associate themselves with his profile." These marketing drives are aimed at younger consumers, but (from the article): "About 36% of MySpace users are people aged 35-54, as are 30% of Facebook users."
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Social Networking Goes Big Business

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  • huh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Monday September 11, 2006 @04:05PM (#16083879) Homepage
    Big business is catching on to their possibilities too.

    What do you mean "is catching on"? News Corp (FOX) bought Myspace for 500 million a year ago.
    • Well, anyone can BUY into something like MySpace. But it is strange how these "kids" actually chose to "make friends" with Burger King, a fast food place with no appreciable "cool factor" that I have ever been aware of, and affiliate themselves with it.
      • Why didnt they just give away 280 Million Whoppers? That'd work.
      • no appreciable "cool factor"

        They're not making friends with "Burger King", they're making friends with The Burger "King", a character designed such as to appeal to tweens and teens who have grown too old for Ronald McDonald, yet still are likely to frequent fast food restaurants. Brilliant campaign by Crispin Porter. Check out pictures of their revived king-- the guy would be right at home in any Snoop Dogg video.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        Apparentely you don't understand that uncool is now cool. I remember seeing stores carrying "SPAM" shirts before it became a name for unwanted email. And what was so cool about wearing a SPAM shirt? Dunno, myself... but kids bought them. If they brought back Hypercolor shirts it would be a hit.
        • So basically...KIDS THESE DAYS! PFFFFT!

          Even taking into account the entity being not Burger King but "The King", that 120,000 people have fallen for it is just...incredible.
          • Being a bit of a cheapo myself, I can underdstand becoming a "friend" of the King in order to get coupons and what have you, but take a look at those comments. Yikes. Not only have these people "fallen for it", they are literally singing a chorous of praises to a corporate mascot.

            Who should I hate more: brilliant marketing execs or the consumer whores who empower them?
      • by Korin43 ( 881732 )
        Hey! Me and The King love eachother! Who are you to understand the complexities of our relationship??
  • 36% (Score:4, Funny)

    by Eightyford ( 893696 ) on Monday September 11, 2006 @04:08PM (#16083911) Homepage
    About 36% of MySpace users are people aged 35-54
    That's a lot of pedophiles! Yikes...
  • I see this fad burning out in the next few years as teens move on to something else, or grow out of it. Now when the investing companies can get a larger adult user base, they'll have a chance at a long term business.
    • As quickly as fads change today, I'm amazed that Myspace is getting so much attention still. I'm just glad that spinners are going out of style. Those were a horrible trend to start with.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by truthsearch ( 249536 )
      MTV's not a fad. The phone isn't a fad. Hanging out at malls isn't a fad. These all became part of teen culture. The same may one day be said of myspace or other social networking sites.
      • Anyone who thinks MTV is the same as it was when it started obviously wasn't alive (or paying attention) when it started. Considering how often MTV plays music videos these days, how many 14-year-olds even know that MTV supposedly stands for "Music TeleVision"? Unlike Myspace and the other hundred sites just like it, the telephone doesn't really have a viable alternative for real-time voice communication, other than perhaps eventually PC voice software. Likewise, shopping malls don't have many alternatives
        • No one said that social networking sites wouldn't change. There is no doubt that social networking sites, like everything else on the internet, will change and shift as the demands of users likewise change and shift. However, the underlying concept of a social networking site is something that can remain viable over the years. Unlike something like, for example, shiny white DRM-ed mp3 players, people, teenagers especially, will always see value in something like a social networking site, preventing the conc
  • by Shanoyu ( 975 ) on Monday September 11, 2006 @04:14PM (#16083969)
    I have to wonder whether or not social networking sites will continue to be hot two or three years down the line. I guess i'm being a bit old-fogeyish since after all we're talking about the 18-24 demographic. It's kind of old hat for me; for someone who is 18 years old I guess it's sort of new though. Either way, after about 2 or 3 years of that I found that the more I used them the less I liked using them, simply because as a particular networking tool becomes more prevalent among your friends (and those unfortunate acquaintances) you find yourself willing to disclose less information about yourself or commit to as many activities via the site.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Krater76 ( 810350 )
      This isn't an EBay or a Google, it's just entertainment and no one is more fickle than the 18-24 demographic. Besides, it's just a matter of time. Kids grow up, trends change. Think about one of the hottest fads that were around when you were 18 and think about how much they affect you now.

      I honestly can't think of any fads at all. Maybe that's because 18-24 was college and college was a pretty good time on it's own :)
      • The fads around when you were 18 may no longer affect you now, but that doesn't mean they're not a factor in the lives of current 18 year olds. Advertisers and corporations don't care that you grew out of those fads. They only care that the current batch of teenagers is into it and kids will get into it when they get a little older.
        • Advertisers and corporations don't care that you grew out of those fads.

          Oh, they care. You are correct that advertisers will move on, however, Myspace can't. If they lose their user base because they were a fad it's just as bad as losing their user base to competition. Without eyeballs on the ads no one is going to pay them very much to advertise on their site. Without money there is no business.

          Like I said, Myspace isn't Google. Maybe it's just me but they look like a 1-trick pony with nothing to
      • You're thinking too specificially! Social networking is not a fad, it's a new *paradigm* in which fads can exist, and one that did not exist to any appreciable degree 10 years ago. Fads may die, but paradigms (and even the sub-paradigms in which fads thrive and die) do not.

        Britney Spears? A fad. Teenybopper music? NOT a fad. Music as status symbol? A paradigm.

        Pimp My Ride? A fad. Shows aimed at embracing youth lifestyles? NOT a fad. Shows for people about people? A paradigm.

        iPod? Yes, a fad. Portable conten
  • About 36% of MySpace users are people aged 35-54, as are 30% of Facebook users.
    Just curious: What percentage of people are aged 35-54?
    • According to the 2000 US Census, 29.4% of the population is between the ages of 35 and 54. This is a total of 82,826,479 people.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dumbfounder ( 770681 )
      Wow there is no way that statistic is actually what it sounds like. If the numbers are correct, which I highly doubt they are, then a user aged "35-54" means some old person that heard a kid talking about myspace and was like "wtf is this that" and then went to the homepage and clicked around and thought "this is stupid" and left never to return. If an advertiser used that stat to target their ads I am sure they wouldn't get a very good return. They need to base that stat on pageviews for it to make sense i
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Monday September 11, 2006 @04:22PM (#16084058)
    Your customers tell you all about themselves, voluntarily and for free.

    Contrary to most geek's ideas, marketing is bloody difficult. It's actually very expensive, very hard work. You're essentially trying to model human society. That's why they'll pay you to answer questions.

    • Contrary to most geek's ideas, marketing is bloody difficult. It's actually very expensive, very hard work.
      What are you talking about, its easy and free: Buy more cheese [] There - an ad for cheese.

      that was: 1 easy, 2 free, 3 not hard work.

      perhaps you mean 'advertise well'....
      • Ah, I see that you have no idea what marketing is. What you did was advertising, not marketing.
        • I was waiting for your reply...
          From Wikipedia:
          Marketing is the ongoing process of moving people closer to making a decision to purchase, use, follow...or conform to someone else's products, services or values. Simply, if it doesn't facilitate a "sale" then it's not marketing."
          Next time you buy cheese instead of making your own, think of me.
    • Contrary to most geek's ideas, marketing is bloody difficult.

      I was not aware that (m)any people think marketing is easy.

      What is widely thought (amoung the minority of people in the world who are literate) is that marketing is evil, at least in the forms it is commonly practiced.
  • Same $#it, different brand.
  • Advertisers have a hard time trying to advertise to the right demographics. Anyone who's worked in any business that has an advertising budget (pretty much any business) knows that setting up advertising campaigns is like throwing a dart in the dark at a dartboard a mile away.

    With social networking sites, everybody will give you their information – with that kind of information disclosure, there's almost no need for research teams!

    Of course, there's the whole pedophile stalking issue, but without th

  • (from the article): "About 36% of MySpace users are people aged 35-54, as are 30% of Facebook users."


    Or, as Matthew McConnahguguadgwrhwrhwrhweugh's character (wooderson) said in Dazed and Confused "That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age."

  • who has amassed more than 120,000 'friends' that opt (for rewards) to associate themselves with his profile."

    What kind of a social network has to buy it's friends?

    I really kind of marvel at the way social networking has evolved on the web. Corporations have sunk their teeth into it, but the fit hasn't been very good, has it?

    Part of that is that social networking needs to stop being centered around isolated websites that function as islands, seperated from each other. Instead, social networks need to funct
  • 30% of Facebook users are 35 or older? I thought that it was invented for college students. I mean, the extensions to high school students makes the population younger, and my impression of the corporate networks has been something targeted at recent alums. Something smells fishy here - I think that social networking and its related revenues (advertising) remains the domain of the young, with too much time on their hands.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Shag ( 3737 )
      30% of Facebook users are 35 or older? I thought that it was invented for college students.

      Pretty much so... but the criteria used to determine college affiliation was possession of a .edu address. That tended to set a lower bound on age (relatively few people below 16-17 are affiliated with colleges or universities in ways that get them addresses) but didn't set an upper bound at all, when you factor in things like:

      a) People "going back to school" - my wife "mommy-tracked" for 8 years, then picked up a se
      • while these hypotheticals may account for 1-2% of the total 35+ college demographic, it almost certainly doesn't account for 30%. I think I must invoke the 'you are on slashdot, therefore you are automatically the exception' rule :)

        The #s are based on comScore Media Metrix's demographics, which I discovered are quite faulty (and thanks to businessweek, not reality checked!). I did lots of research in this area and ran many comScore reports to verify the accuracy of these #s. comScore demographics are based
  • Some social networks depend on a large number of mostly meaningless "friends" that make a social circle. Others, like [] do a much more thorough job at predicting compatibility.
  • This article seems a bit lame, so I'll propose a rather pertinent question to the /.ers that decided to hang around for discussion: what forms of monetization of social networks do you think are a good idea? Are there any that won't piss off users while still making good returns? Are here any you are surprised no one is doing yet? Yes, there's advertising, but there has to be so much more there just waiting to be realized.
    • I think paid subscriptions will drive the next successful social networking site.

      There's a reason that Myspace is considered the cesspool of the internet; it has a reputation as being full of either naive teenage girls or sex predators. And quite rightfully so, as its current setup caters to the first and so by extension, the second, by making the process of posting a personal profile as simple as a few clicks.

      Personally I do not have an account on there even though most of my friends do, for several reason
    • How about going the opposite direction? Since corporations are having so much trouble capitalizing off this growing phenomenon, we should take advantage of their unpreparedness and interject a non-monetary goal before it's too late and a potentially Good Thing becomes commodified trash like almost everything else the machine grinds up and spits out.

      What social networks represent to me is people reaching out and sharing values without a middleman. On the popular social networks, they're sharing their value

  • Myspace was called Geocities and you only had to put a link to their webpage to claim you were friends with the other person.
  • kids aged xx - xx are so fickle and will move on blah blah..

    well guess what? There will ALWAYS be people in that age group!!

    what does it matter that the current crop will get bored of it? NULL
  • and are taken.
  • Too Much! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PineHall ( 206441 ) on Monday September 11, 2006 @05:40PM (#16084753)
    Is it me, or has the amount of advertising reached an all time high? Everywhere I look I see "Buy! BUY! Buy!" No wonder the national saving rate is currently negative. We are digging ourselves way into debt. I think this is not good in the long term. I wonder how long can this last and if there will be a backlash.

    Advertising on social networking sites looks like a good idea, but I wonder when people will say no more and avoid these advertisement websites. I think people will eventually look for web communities where advertising is a minimum. And many people will pay for advertising-free websites.
  • by Minwee ( 522556 ) <> on Monday September 11, 2006 @05:50PM (#16084830) Homepage

    Burger King, an international chain of restaurants which has been in business for over 50 years, designs a new mascot and gets 127,220 [] MySpace friends.

    Christine Dolce, an unemployed twenty-something cosmetologist who may well have been conceived in the parking lot of a Burger King, bleached her hair and took off her shirt to get 1,022,716 [] friends.

    I think the jury is in on just what the Internet is used for.

  • a.) If you think that a collection of "friends" that you don't know, you've never spoken to, and have no real-world connection makes you cool, you are exactly the type of guillible, low-IQ, idiot that advertisers love. b.) If you buy or invest in a company that claims it can make millions from getting morons to visit a website where a collection of "friends" that they don't know, they've never spoken to, and have no real-world connection makes them cool, you are exactly the type of guillible, low-IQ, idiot
  • by TAiNiUM ( 66843 )
    The U.S. Air Force recently announced [] their own myspace site []. They have been promoting it in base newspapers and with a companion site []. It officially launches on 18Sep.
  • These marketing drives are aimed at younger consumers, but (from the article): "About 36% of MySpace users are people [...]"

A consultant is a person who borrows your watch, tells you what time it is, pockets the watch, and sends you a bill for it.