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Social Media Sites: Here to Stay?

Sep 3, 2008
SEO experts agree that social media sites are the most pervasive and popular internet trend since the dot.com explosion. They also agree that, while there are vast similarities between the dot.com boom and the proliferation of social media websites, there are also some distinct differences.

Industry experts predict that roughly 230 million internet users currently belong to a social media site, and that the number will grow until 2009. By 2012, they believe, the number of new members will level off. 2012 should also see a combined social media site revenue of $2.4 billion, compared to $970 million in 2007.

Who belongs to social media sites? 35% of the total users are from the Asian Pacific nations. Europe, the Middle East, and Africa account for 28% of users, while North America boasts 25%. 12% of all users are from the Caribbean and Latin America.

As with all growing industries, many experts predict that consolidation is inevitable, with smaller social media sites being taken over by the bigger sites. Other experts feel that those small sites catering to a particular niche will be able to avoid the trend towards consolidation.

The hype over social networking is surely what drives the comparison with the dot.com boom. This, of course, causes experts to wonder how social networking sites will parallel the dot.com bust. Despite the popularity and predicted growth of social media sites, many industry experts are hesitant to claim that they are a sure thing. Because the sites haven't been around long enough to prove that they will exist indefinitely, some investors approach them with trepidation. While many are interested in the potential for growth of the social media sites, there is some doubt as to whether they are a sustainable industry for the long haul. The most conservative experts recommend that most social media sites resist the IPO urge.

Even Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, states that Facebook is many years away from being able to float on its own, despite its popularity and astronomical growth.

There is certainly no arguing that social media sites are changing the way we communicate, advertise, and connect. But, as previous experience suggests, the excitement over new social media can't last forever. Media attention and user curiosity have boosted revenues and creativity that will surely come to an end at some point.

Does this mean that social media sites have no future? Certainly not. The future looks bright for the industry, though it's difficult to predict at this point just how big the whole industry will get. But given the uncertainty of the future of social media sites, investors would do well to prepare for the inevitable changes.

In a 2007 report, Ri Pierce of Grove Technology (also an analyst at Datamonitor, based in the UK) provided several tips to help companies manage these changes:
  • Develop a two-pronged approach to dealing with social media sites. On one hand, determine how your company will manage the current popularity of the industry. On the other hand, figure out how your company will deal with the leveling off in the popularity that is sure to come. This requires companies to establish and maintain infrastructure required to run these types of websites.
  • Find alternative ways of supporting social-networking services, particularly those that address scalability and availability.
  • Social media sites should investigate social media optimization. Rohit Bhargava, Senior Vice President of Digital Strategy and Marketing for Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence, has established five rules for such optimization.
    • Make it easy for your audience to tag and bookmark your site.
    • Reward backlinks
    • Make sure your content can travel
    • Enable mashups, applications that combine data from multiple sources into a single tool.
    • Increase your site's linkability.
If you're still wondering how to adapt your internet marketing campaign to the future of social media sites, you may consider consulting an SEO expert or internet marketing professional. They will be able to help you determine how best to plan for the future.
About the Author
Seomul Evans is a senior SEO Services with "SEO 1 Services" a Dallas firm providing SEO Marketing and freeinternet marketing articles .
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