Facebook membership hits 500 million

The number of people using Facebook has hit the 500 million mark, meaning one in every 14 people on the planet has now signed up to online social-networking service.

"As of this morning, 500 million people all around the world are actively using Facebook to stay connected with their friends and the people around them," Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a blog post.

"This is an important milestone for all of you who have helped spread Facebook around the world."

To celebrate, the California firm introduced an application that lets members of the online community "tell the incredible stories of the moving and interesting ways they’ve used Facebook."

Examples given by Zuckerberg included NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen jogging with Facebook fans during his term as Danish prime minister and a US woman using the service to battle breast cancer.

"Our mission at Facebook is to help make the world more open and connected," Zuckerberg said.

"Stories like these are examples of that mission and are both humbling and inspiring. I could have never imagined all of the ways people would use Facebook when we were getting started 6 years ago

More Businesses Finding Customers on Social Sites

Smaller companies most successful at social acquisition

While many marketers struggle with how to measure social media marketing return on investment, some businesses are finding at least one hard metric where their efforts have paid off—customer acquisition.

According to a February–March 2010 survey from office services firm Regus, smaller companies see the most success, with nearly half of small businesses around the world having acquired a customer through social networks. Large companies were less successful, but more than a quarter had seen social success through customer acquisition. This was despite large companies being more likely to devote budgets to social marketing.

Successful Use of Business Social Networks for Customer Acquisition, by Company Size, Mar 2010 (% of companies worldwide)

The survey of senior managers and business owners from around the world found customer acquisition varied by country, with the US coming in the lower half of the pack. Overall, 40% of businesses studied had acquired a customer through a social site, but only 35% of US businesses said the same.

Successful Use of Business Social Networks for Customer Acquisition, Mar 2010 (% of companies in select countries)

“While the most popular function of these networks remains that of keeping in touch with contacts, businesses are also successfully acquiring new customers, supporting their retention efforts and interacting with customer groups,” said Sande Golgart, vice president at Regus, in a statement. “Organizations who have not yet ventured into the world of social networking may be missing out on sizeable business opportunities.”

In January 2010, Hubspot found that more than 40% of companies using social media marketing had acquired a customer through the channel. The Regus survey, which was not limited to businesses using social marketing, suggests that number may be slowly climbing.

Government backflips on net filter

The federal government has again delayed the introduction of its proposed mandatory internet filter while a review of classified material is undertaken.

While the review is under way three of Australia’s largest internet service providers have agreed to voluntarily block online child pornography material.

Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy says some people are obviously concerned about whether current classified material reflected community views.

Legislation to impose mandatory internet filtering would therefore be delayed until the review was completed, Senator Conroy said.

Labor’s moves to block access to material such as child pornography and other illegal content have been criticised by some of the world’s largest providers of internet services including Google and Yahoo.

Senator Conroy announced on Friday that Telstra, Optus and Primus will block a list of child abuse URLs – internet addresses – compiled by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

However, representatives from Telstra and Optus would not say unequivocally whether they supported the government’s proposed internet filter.

The telcos agreed to block child porn material from being accessed by Australian internet users while that review of Refused Classification (RC) content was under way.

"We support the review that was announced today, we support and are willing to voluntarily commit to the blocking of the ACMA list of child pornography sites and we’ll continue to work constructively with the government as it undertakes this review," Telstra public policy and communications director David Quilty told reporters in Melbourne.

Mr Quilty said the blocking process was expected to take several months to get up and running.

Optus government and corporate affairs director Maha Krishnapillai said the telco had agreed to filter child pornography where it could.

"We’ll have to wait and see what the review comes out with, but we’ve said all the way through this is about blocking the worst of the worst," he said.

RC content includes child abuse material, bestiality, rape and other extreme violence and terrorist acts.

Senator Conroy remained adamant that the internet filter proposal did not amount to censorship.

"I don’t think any Australian actually tries to describe blocking child pornography or bestiality or pro-rape websites as censorship," Senator Conroy told reporters in Melbourne

Gillard to push ahead with web censorship

gillard.jpg

gillard A change of Prime Minister is not enough to kill off one of the most stupid ideas of the 21st century.

It had been thought that when  Julia Gillard took over the Australian government that she would allow a little bit of common sense to happen in Aussie politics.
However, it seems that Gillard is cut from the same mold which believes that Australians are precious snowflakes who need protection from the rest of the world.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, she is going to press ahead with plans to filter the internet Chinese style and cut Australians from a stream of information that the government thinks is too dangerous for them.

n Julia Gillard’s first comments on the filter since becoming Prime Minister, she told ABC Radio in Darwin that the proposal was an effort to control the dark side of communications technology.

Again she drummed up the image of child porn and abuse which she claims you are able to see on the Internet but for some reason cannot see in a movie theatre.  No we didn’t get the link either.

Gillard indicated that the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, might tweak parts of the proposed filter before it is introduced. But given Conroy’s own spittle reactionary approach to web censorship is legendary, Australians who actually want to use the Internet like ordinary citizens of the world will probably have to vote the Labour government out.

Unfortunately the Australian opposition has yet to announced that it is against the filter. It seems that the government feels that there is a chance here to control citizens through net use and although the opposition does not want to be the one to make the unpopular move, it also sees the advantage of not dismantling it.
After all, what government would not like to control the information that citizens get on contentious issues such as abortion and human rights?
Gillard admitted that there were technical concerns that Conroy’s filters will slow the Aussie internet down and will take away legitimate use of the internet.
Gillard’s comments have won backing from the Christian group FamilyVoice Australia.

Spokeswoman, Ros Phillips, said she was ”delighted” the government’s position was being maintained.

However given that christian groups in Australia look at the internet as created by Satan as a method to draw people to the anti-christ we can’t see how they can be taken seriously.

There had been hopes that Gillard’s rule of the Labour Party would be a move to common sense.  However it appears that she is exactly like her predecessor.   Hopefully the Australian people will show that they do not want this sort of censorship in their lives and vote against any party that tries to bring it in.  Don’t hold your  breath though.

Story by Nick Farrell www.techeye.net

Facebook U.S. Growth Stagnates in June

After growing by 7.8 million new active U.S. users in May, Facebook growth stagnated in June, adding only 320,800 new users.

Total number of active U.S. users now stands at 125,000,000.

According to Inside Facebook Gold, which offers Facebook data and analysis, it is not unusual to see a saturated country like the U.S. take a breather after a growth spurt.

Slightly less users in the 18-44 demo – which represents Facebook’s largest age demographic – were active on Facebook in June, compared to May. While the loss in that demo could be just a blip, it could also be the result of backlash from heavy media attention to Facebook’s privacy issues – some of which were real and others, Inside Facebook claims, the result of confusion and sensationalism.

The ages that logged the losses in June were those most likely to have listened to the privacy debates.

More Facebook Stats

  • Facebook has more than 400 million active users
  • 50% of its active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • Average users have 130 friends
  • People spend over 500 billion minutes per month on Facebook
  • The average user is connected to 60 pages, groups and events
  • The average user creates 70 pieces of content each month
  • More than 25 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) are shared each month.

Five Steps to Online Marketing Success

Using competitive intelligence strategies and tools will be key to launching successful email marketing campaigns in 2010, according to a new white paper from Compete.

In the white paper “Five Simple Steps to Online Marketing Success,” Compete recommends that marketers take the five following steps to integrate competitive marketing into their online campaigns:

1. Know the Competition: First, Compete advises email marketers to create a list of competitors in their space and identify the specific reasons each poses a competitive threat. After identifying their competitive set, marketers are advised to dig into metrics and figure out their standing in the ones that matter most.

Frequently used metrics include unique visitors, page views, time on site, average stay, and pages per visit. All of these will give marketers a sense of real norms for their competitive landscape, thus allowing them to make logical business decisions and maximize ROI. Some competitive intelligence solutions provide visibility into metrics for competitors’ sites that are much like the ones analyzed using local web analytics tools.

2. Cover Search Marketing Bases: Increase search traffic and campaign performance through analysis of competitors’ search marketing trends and keywords. In addition, using local web analytics tools, marketers can see what keywords are sending traffic to their sites, how much of that traffic is paid as compared to natural, and what percentage of traffic the individual search engines contribute to a site overall.

Through optimization and testing of paid search campaigns, SEO keyword research, and content creation, marketers can maximize conversions and increase search ROI. However, optimization and testing are not guaranteed to provide beneficial results. Competitive search analytics tools let marketers quickly gain insights into your competitors’ search strategy so you can capitalize on their success.

3. Copying is a Sign of Flattery: Identify what websites are sending competitors traffic and get in on the action. Competition for web traffic will continue to grow as more everyday activities move online. Just like there are a few keywords that drive most of the traffic to a site (the head) and thousands of other keywords that drive a little (the long tail), traffic to websites works much in the same way. There are millions of websites out there, however only a small percentage account for the bulk of traffic. The relationships marketers forge with other online businesses can determine the fate of their marketing success.

By analyzing referral (upstream) and destination (downstream) traffic for their competitive sets, marketers can easily identify new affiliate websites, business relationships, and link-building opportunities. If competitors are receiving traffic from specific sites, it may be worth reaching out to those sites.

Compete advises that marketers use competitive intelligence tools to create a list of websites that send traffic to their competitors, excluding websites that they are already working with. Marketers can then determine which sites they want to reach out by analyzing how much traffic these websites receive. Analyzing traffic referral reports is a great way to generate new relationships and increase online reach with minimal effort.

4. Fix Your Leaky Bucket: Local web analytics tools will let marketers identify which websites are sending traffic to their sites. Based on page views, bounce rates, and conversion rates, they can easily identify which websites deliver the most benefit. Thinking of a website as a bucket, using various marketing tactics, marketers can scoop up site visitors that may be interested in their products or services. Then by creating conversion funnels, they can attempt to lead users to perform a specific action.

Using destination or downstream traffic tools, marketers can easily see where their users go when they leave the site. Are they going directly to a competitor, a search engine, or back to their favorite social network? Maybe they are searching for coupons on their favorite deal sites or conducting research before they decide to purchase your products or services. By regularly performing a destination traffic report on their websites, marketers can easily find opportunities to quickly “patch the holes” in their “leaky buckets.”

5. Stay on Top: Marketers should monitor, set benchmarks, and realize how their site enhancements and marketing strategies impact their competitors. In order to stay on track and continue to grow their business, marketers need an online marketing strategy that can adjust to ever-changing economic, technological, and social environments. Incorporating competitive intelligence into that marketing strategy can give them the critical information they need to minimize risk and ensure success.

Marketers should monitor their competitive set and use competitive intelligence tools on a regular basis. They will find much of the information they collect to be critical in making decisions about their overall marketing strategies. Then, they should set benchmarks and monitor changes across their entire competitive sets.

Google Dominates Search Engine Activity
US web users prefer to conduct online searches with Google by a wide margin, according to recent data from The Nielsen Company. In March 2010, Google Search maintained its comfortable lead in search engine usage during March 2010, with 6.39 billion searches, or 65.7% of 9.72 billion total searches.

Facebook, Twitter Post Strong March Growth

nielsensocnetgrowthmar10may2010.jpg

Facebook and Twitter clearly surpassed all other major social networks in US year-over-year growth during March 2010, according to data from The Nielsen Company.

In March 2010, Facebook reported 117.1 million unique US users at home and work. This represented 69% year-over-year growth from 69.1 million unique US users in March 2009.

nielsen-socnet-growth-mar-10-may-2010

While Twitter only reported 20.1 million unique US users in March 2010, this still represented strong 45% year-over-year growth from 13.8 million unique users in March 2009. It is also worth noting that Twitter had a negligible 520,000 unique users in March 2008.

Myspace.com had the second-highest total unique US audience in March 2010 with 42.1 million users. However, this represented a roughly 25% drop from 55.9 million unique users in March 2009. As recently as March 2008, Myspace.com was the undisputed leader among major US social networks, with 61.3 million unique users.

LinkedIn and Classmates Online reported US unique audience declines of 12% and 30%, respectively, between March 2009 and March 2010. LinkedIn’s March 2010 unique audience total of 13.9 million is still almost double its March 2008 total of 7.9 million, while Classmates Online has lost about 15% of its unique audience in that time (13.6 million to 11.5 million, with a bump to 16.4 million in March 2009).

Global SocNet Traffic Dramatically Rises
Globally, more unique users spent far more time on social networks in March 2010 than in March 2009. Unique audience grew about 20% globally, from 261.7 million to 313.7 million. Total global minutes spent on social networks more than doubled, from 55.7 billion to 113.1 billion. Average time spent per user grew about 45%, from three hours, 32 minutes and 49 seconds to six hours and 25 seconds.

nielsen-socnet-global-traffic-mar-10-may-2010

SocNet Usage Rises in Feb.
On average, global web users across 10 countries spent roughly five and a half hours on social networks in February 2010, up more than two hours from February 2009, according to previous data from Nielsen. Overall, the active unique audience to social networks grew nearly 30%, from 244.2 million in February 2009 to 314.5 million in February 2010.

Facebook was clearly the most popular social network globally in February 2010. Facebook’s reach extended to 52% of active social network users, and the site averaged 19.16 sessions per person and time spent of five hours and 52 minutes per person.

Dealing with Negative Online Word-of-Mouth

111077.gif

Consumers both praise and criticize retailers on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs. It is the negative comments, though, that test retailers’ ability to manage customer relationships in a dynamic, always-on and fragmented environment.

“Social media amplifies the voice of disgruntled customers and makes it easy for others to jump on the bandwagon if they can relate to the pain,” said Jeffrey Grau, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report “How Retailers Handle Negative Buzz on Social Media Sites.” “The potential for negative to buzz to escalate into mass criticism puts pressure on retailers to react quickly.

“To avoid a knee-jerk response, retailers need to take a strategic view of customer relationship management on the social Web,” he said.

A cornerstone of retailers’ approach is cultivating customer advocates. That means finding support in the retailer’s fan base, and according to Dynamic Logic and Millward Brown, retailers are the industry most likely to be followed by US social network users.

111077

Many instances of negative buzz circulated by a person or a group stem from age-old retail problems such as poor communications, marketing blunders, operational snafus and bad customer service. Multichannel retailers can prove especially vulnerable, as large chains have more touch points between customers and store employees, providing ample opportunities for things to go wrong.

By contrast, online pure plays have more experience developing, embracing and connecting with their Internet customers.

“Once a retailer is criticized on its Facebook page or a similar social venue, it has three basic options: respond to the criticism, stay silent (perhaps to allow loyal customers to come to its defense) or remove the negative comments when possible,” Mr. Grau said.

“Retailers should have a plan in place and respond according to whether the problem is an isolated event or situation, a systemic problem or a personal issue, such as with a disgruntled customer who has a need for attention or a desire to bait the retailer,” he said.