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BizReport : Social Marketing : November 09, 2006

Can Social “Niche” Audiences Boost Online Spending?

That is a question online marketers need to answer as more social networkers are influenced less by online ads and influenced more by their network of friends.

by Kristina Knight

In September, social network giant MySpace garnered more than 80% of visits to the top 20 social network websites, according to new data from HitWise. Another interesting statistic is that about one in 20 Internet visits during September were to social network sites. That is more than double the number from 2005.

For online marketers, these numbers are huge because not only are people visiting “friends” on social sites, but about 2% of the traffic to shopping and classified sites were driven by MySpace alone. That is 83% increase since March. Banks, travel sites and telecommunications sites also received a traffic boost because of social networking.

“Users are integrating it [visiting social networks] into other daily Web activities," said LeeAnn Prescott, director of research at Hitwise (via MediaPost). "As MySpace grows, it's showing up in the upstream and downstream [traffic] of other categories that you wouldn't necessarily think would be related."

So how to online marketers harness the power? The key could be building a niche market within a social network that serves the social marketplace by providing peer to peer interaction, advice and recommendations as well as branded marketing.

According to Shawn Gold, senior vice President of marking and content at MySpace (via Advertising Age), there are already sub-cultures developing within the MySpace Network. "The opportunity is MySpace's to lose by not evolving the platform," he said.

Tags: MySpace, niche marketing, social marketing, social networking

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