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Who Were the Major Social Media Players of 2011?

January 26th, 2012 ::

Major Social Media Players

From social media IPO activity to the entrance of several upstarts, the U.S. social networking market is strong – and exciting.  comScore recently released its report, “It’s a Social World: Top 10 Need-to-Knows About Social Networking and Where It’s Headed,” an in-depth look at the global social networking market.  Here are some highlights from the U.S. market:

Facebook on top

It’s no surprise that Facebook is still the top U.S. social networking site, boasting 166 million unique visitors in November.  And, how much time are we really spending on Facebook?  The average user spent 6.6 hours in November, up 37 percent in the past year.

We’re number two!

LinkedIn and Twitter have been vying for the number two spot in audience size for a while now.  Twitter took second place in November with 35.4 million unique visitors, only slightly ahead of LinkedIn with 35 million unique visitors.

MySpace still alive and kicking

Even though we don’t hear much about MySpace these days, the network is still holding its own.  MySpace is currently in fourth place with 25 million unique visitors; however, its audience has declined steadily over the past two years.

Upstarts worth mentioning

Three newish social networks are gaining prominence – and audience members – while introducing fresh engagement tactics.  Tumblr has increased its U.S. visits by 131 percent since November 2010, to 15.9 million.  Tumblr is also winning points for engagement and is second only to Facebook, as its average user spends 2.4 hours on the site each month.

Google+ has gotten plenty of attention this year, and it got plenty of traffic, too.  In November, the site received 15.2 million unique visits, just behind Tumblr.  What’s really exciting about Google+ is its future:  its integration with other Google products make it an important one to watch in 2012.

Finally, Pinterest, which I recently wrote about, deserves kudos for its quick rise in the social networking ranks.  Since May 2011, Pinterest has soared from 418,000 unique visitors to nearly 4.9 million in November.  Its engagement rates are impressive, too, with the average visitor spending nearly an hour and a half on the site each month.  Add to that the fact that users spend more than 15 minutes on Pinterest per visit, making the site third in consumer engagement.

Even though Facebook currently remains the clear leader in the U.S. social networking market, there is plenty of room for other players to shake up the industry with new innovations.  2012 looks to be equally exciting on the social media front, so be sure to watch for emerging trends.

Image courtesy of creative design agency Arrae

Want to Really Increase Your Website Traffic? Try SocialToaster

June 3rd, 2011 ::

If you’re a small business, one of the goals of your marketing strategy is to drive more traffic to your website, where you can convert those visitors into leads.

To generate traffic, you need to publish great content that is interesting and useful to your target market.  You can write a blog, newsletter, white papers, press releases, articles, how-to guides, whatever, and then you’ll push out all of that content to your audience via email or social media.

Well, how about tapping into an audience on social media that goes way beyond your followers?

Check out this Baltimore-based startup, SocialToaster.  I first wrote about them for Tech Cocktail back in March.  I have zero affiliation with them, but their idea – and the technology behind it – is really interesting and super useful for small businesses, so sharing them here at GrowSmartBiz has been on my to-do list for a while.

So, here’s how they work:  Ask customers, employees, Facebook fans, and anyone else you’d like to be your ambassador (their term, not mine).  You’ll share content with them, and they will spread the content on their social networks (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and/or LinkedIn).  Naturally, there are built-in analytics so you can track website visitors to see which ambassador sent them.

SocialToaster is a great way to gain brand exposure and build up your sales funnel, but it is dependent on you producing content on a regular basis.  You don’t need to go crazy writing new stuff all the time, though.  If you already blog, you can ask your ambassadors to share your posts.  If you publish a newsletter, ask them to share that.  Each SocialToaster post contains a unique URL and appears to come from the ambassador themselves, so your clickthrough rates will be higher than traditional online advertising.

So, what’s in it for your ambassadors?  Rewards, at least for the people that drive sales leads to you, furnished by sponsors.  Recruiting them is up to you.  You can send an email to employees, newsletters to customers, post something on Facebook, blog about it, or tweet it – or anything else you can think of.

The SocialToaster software can be integrated with your existing content management and CRM systems including Drupal, WordPress, SugarCRM and SalesForce.  As for pricing, you pay a flat monthly subscription fee based on the number of SocialToaster posts you want to push out.  Their most basic plan is free.

Image Courtesy: SocialToaster