Social Networking: More than the Big Three

We spend a lot of time talking about Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  Why?  For small business owners, here in the US, those three networks tare the most logical choices.

However, the popularity of social media networks is constantly in flux with new ones cropping up, and others fading all the time.  Also, some of the biggest networks are found outside the US.  So what are the up and coming networks?  Which are most popular with teens and seniors?   Reading a recent blog post on Mashable I learned the answers to these and other questions about social media usage.

Young users ( 0 – 17) are active on networks like Habbo.com, bebo.com and imvu.com.  Since I don’t have kids this age, and this isn’t typically my target audience, I haven’t spent a lot of time checking these sites out. But, people hang on to their favorite sites;  look at how many people still use AOL.  So, who knows, Bebo may be the next Facebook

In contrast to the chatty, graphic heavy sites preferred by teens, seniors ( 65+) seem to prefer news sites like Newsvine and connection sites like Reunion.com and Plaxo.

Beyond conversations, what are people doing on the net?   If you look at two of the five fastest growing sites StumbleUpon and Reddit, it becomes clear that there is growing  interest  community sites which allow users to discover and rate Web pages, photos, and videos.  We noticed a huge surge in the popularity and impact of StumbleUpon recently as it is now the single biggest traffic driver to our site.  We are still learning how to manage the traffic, so we get more qualified leads instead of just more leads.

The key message?  The social landscape keeps changing. While it is ok to have some favorites, if you are going to stay ahead of the curve, you have to keep looking at what is new, what is hot, and what is a waste of time