Social networks still strong in US, but struggle globally

A recent survey by global market research company Synovate found that 58% of 130,000 participants did not know what social networking is.

In the news
A recent survey by global market research company Synovate found that 58% of 130,000 participants did not know what social networking is. It surveyed people ages 18 to 65, from 17 markets around the world. Social networking familiarity was higher than average in the US, with 30% unfamiliar. In addition, 36% of the global survey participants that were members of online social networks, like Facebook and MySpace, said they were losing interest.

Why does it matter?
George Meschbach, SVP of US marketing services at Synovate, says the survey reveals that social networks provide good opportunities to strengthen a brand, particularly in the US, Western Europe, and Japan, yet this might not be so in other regions.

“Places like Bulgaria, Serbia, India... you're probably going to get less bang from any kind of marketing effort using online social networking areas,” he says.

Gur Tsabar, VP of the interactive strategies group at Ketchum, points out that most people probably are not losing interest in the networks, but instead getting used to them as a part of their lives.

“They are no longer exciting because we're all adopting them at a pretty heavy rate, especially in the United States,” he says.

John Bell, MD and executive creative director at Ogilvy PR Worldwide, says his agency's digital teams and clients in Europe, Asia, and North America are aware of the power of online social networks and blogging communities to find potential brand influencers.

Yet, he notes that technology challenges, such as mobile connectivity, might dampen social networking in certain regions.

Five facts:
1. According to the Synovate survey, 55% of social network members in Japan and 45% in the US said they are losing interest in online networking.

2. In the survey, 53% of social networkers said they notice social networking Web site sponsors, with a higher percentage, 66%, in the US.

3. According to the survey, the Netherlands has the highest percentage of people who belong to online social networks (49%); In the US, 40% participate.

4. A 2008 comScore report found that the number of global visitors to social networking sites grew 34% from a year earlier, to reach 530 million.

5. MySpace and Facebook each attract more than 100 million visitors each month, but the latter overtook its rival for the top spot this summer, comScore reported.

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