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BizReport : Search Marketing : April 10, 2007

Search function on social networking sites is popular with visitors

Marketers should not underestimate the importance of social sites as a marketing tool as around 4 out of 5 social site visitors use site's search function.

by Helen Leggatt

iprospect%20logo.gifData released this week by JupiterResearch and iProspect, shows that around 4 out of 5 visitors to a social site, such as MySpace or FaceBook, perform searches on those sites. Seventy two percent of internet users perform searches on iVillage, 77 percent on MySpace and 78 percent on FaceBook.

Content from social networking sites is usually well indexed and search engine-friendly, so many internet users find what they are looking for using Google, Yahoo or one of the other search giants, says the report. The report suggests that marketers seek out social sites whose content is ranked highly in the major search engines to maximize their exposure in search results pages.

For marketers already participating on social sites, positive content about their brand can be beneficial to their ranking on that site. “Positive content about the brand appearing on these social networking sites can potentially result in multiple additional natural search results on the same results page,” states the report.

The iProspect Social Networking User Behavior Study, polled 2,223 respondents in January, 2007, and sought to measure how consumers use social networking sites. The overall take-out was that while social marketing could be seen as a fad, it is a valid online channel that marketers should explore, but not at the expense of other mainstream online marketing activities.

"While social networking sites are a growing and important online channel for marketers to leverage, they are still early stage," said iProspect’s Robert Murray. "When it comes to quantity and frequency of visits, these sites are not even in the same ballpark as the major search engines. Even MySpace -- the most popular of the social networking sites included in this study - is dwarfed by the likes of Google or Yahoo. Smart marketers will explore social networks, yet continue to invest in being found in the major search engines. The sheer numbers dictate as much."

Tags: search engine ranking, search marketing, social networks

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