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The Rise And Rise Of Social Media As A Marketing Channel

Posted in: Social Media,Statistics by Richard Hearne on March 2, 2007
Internet Marketing Ireland

Listening to the radio the other day I couldn’t help but notice how most ads made reference to the Internet. But one ad really stood out for me.

It was an ad for a new movie starring Hillary Swank called Freedom Writers. The ad itself was unremarkable. What was very remarkable though was the official website URL.

More and more advertisers turning to Social Media Marketing

It’s generally observed wisdom that big box office movies are supported by nice media-rich websites. Most of the major studios have in-house teams of web designers who churn out high quality flash sites to beat the band. Freedom Writers is another such big box office movie (should I be hyphenating?).

But Freedom Writers is different. Rather than host the movie’s official site on a dedicated domain or under the studio’s primary domain, as has often been the case for new movies in the past, the site is hosted on MySpace:

Freedom Writers MySpace

And to top that I noticed a small button about halfway down the page ‘BE HEARD AT YOUTUBE‘. They’ve managed to completely tap into video as well:

Freedom Writers YouTube Be Heard

From the YouTube profile:

Be Heard
525 Videos | 5339 Members | 170 Discussions
Freedom Writers is now in theaters! Click on one of the links below to see the story that inspired a record-breaking group on YouTube

This is a fantastic case of a product connecting with it’s customers through Social Media Marketing.

Hard, cold statistical evidence of Social Media driven traffic

And if you need some hard Social Media statistics to show to your boss, Heather Hopkins has posted some great data yesterday on her Hitwise blog that shows just how much traffic social media sites have generated for two large UK high street brands:

TopShop.co.uk and ASOS.com last week received more than twice as much traffic from MySpace than from MSN and Yahoo! Search combined.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the charts from Heater’s post (which I hope she/Hitwise wont mind be reproducing here):

Hitwise Data Charts

In a later comment Heather postscripts some other up-stream data for topshop.co.uk:

Bebo accounts for significantly less traffic than MySpace to both ASOS and TopShop. Here are the figures for last week:

#2 MySpace 5.12%
#9 Bebo 2.89%
#14 MSN UK Search 1.29%
#15 Yahoo! UK Search 1.15%

#5 MySpace 4.55%
#9 Bebo 2.27%
#13 Yahoo UK Search 1.16%
#15 MSN UK Search 1.11%

Whilst MySpace and Bebo are close to tied (ranking at #8 and #9 respectively among all categories last week) MySpace accounts for a much larger share of traffic across the web. We see this across many categories, in particular music and retail.

It’s safe to assume that Google is the #1 referrer missing from TopShop.co.uk’s figures, but it really is impressive to see just how much traffic is coming from the Social Media sites.

Given the popularity of Bebo here in Ireland, this last nugget from Heather is especially notable:

Our data can’t bear this out, but from what I hear from people in the industry (and what I hear from my younger cousins), Bebo replaces email and the phone. MySpace can be dipped in and out of. But socialising after school happens on Bebo.

Perhaps the mobile operators might be signing deals with Bebo at some point in the not-to-distant future?

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  1. Figuring out how to use the social networking sites is a challenge though. Films are media rich as you say and there’s a street cred element associated with Top Shop and the like.

    Comment by Anthony — March 2, 2007 @ 9:42 am

  2. I think it’s true about the Bebo replacing email – I heard a young couple arguing outside Dundrum cinema, the girl yelling “I never said that! Did you not, like, read your Bebo?!?”
    (Ross O’Carroll Kelly meets Social Networking)

    Comment by Stewart — March 2, 2007 @ 9:45 am

  3. There are some very interesting sites popping up on the likes on MySpace though. If you check out wendys or BugerKing. You can see that the secret to these sites is to promote the brand through entertaining content.

    I’m begining to think that you can sell absolutely anything online these days, and promoting the ‘un-promotable’ is just a challenge rather than an impossibility.


    Comment by Richard Hearne — March 2, 2007 @ 9:52 am

  4. yes I notice Bebo has the powerofone campaign profile, which is actively adding friends, and posting messages, it seems to be – as you have noted very effective….

    I find myself that myspace is a huge mess of a site – very unorganised

    Comment by John — March 2, 2007 @ 2:09 pm

  5. @Stewart – the twinkle in my parents’ eyes came 10 years too early :(

    @John – MySpace is an absolute mess. But that doesn’t seem to have put off the masses. I could never figure out the attraction myself… but it must be paying for somebody given all the money businesses are sinking to advertise/market over there.

    Comment by Richard Hearne — March 2, 2007 @ 2:37 pm

  6. I realize this post is about the effective use of social networking to promote a movie, but just because some studio finally figured out that posting promotional material where the target audience exists is a good idea doesn’t strike me as all that groundbreaking. Billboards & newspaper, radio, & TV ads have been doing that for a long time. Of greater interest to me is the statistical evidence of social media driven traffic. If anyone can figure that bit out, then they will have the proper tools to really harness the power of social networking.

    Notice that in the first graph, the highs and lows correspond with each other almost pefectly until myspace.comakes yahoo & msn, at which point the highs and lows become inverse. It’s almost as if overall internet traffic affected all services until mid Oct ’06. ANything happen around that time to really draw people to myspace? News stories, controversy, some band hitting it big? In the second graph, the relationship is inverse from the beginning to about the same time, where the trend reverses itself and become more analogous.

    Comment by Justin — March 2, 2007 @ 7:11 pm

  7. Hi Justin

    You’re quite right, but there is a very subtle yet powerful distinction between social media marketing and broadcast advertising. I think we’ll agree that if we simply put up a brochure or corporate site onto MySpace (or similar) it wouldn’t generate any return. Creating something entertaining and interesting will though.

    I think when you look at sites like Digg it is fairly obvious that direct traffic has little value. But indirect value (backlinks, buzz, brand recognition) can be very useful.

    I cant say how successful the movie strategy was, but I think that social media are particularly suited to media industries. The YouTube stats give some idea of the popularity of user-generated (and I’m sure planted) content.

    I don’t know of any drivers in MySpace’s traffic at the time you mention – you could ask over at the Hitwise blog. They’re pretty cool for responding to comments and emails. But looking at the graph you mention I can’t really see a very high correlation TBH? Some corresponding peaks and troughs maybe, but not a very strong correlation that I can see.


    Comment by Richard Hearne — March 2, 2007 @ 8:05 pm

  8. Thing about Bebo is that it has too many user restrictions but if your advertising via their channels you could have some success.

    As for Myspace, its a powerful marketing tool to drive visitors to a site. Even chitika have copped on and released new ads that can be used on Myspace profiles opening more doors for revenue.

    Having a 15 year old sister as a lab rat has helped me with social networking sites. ;-)

    Comment by Gavin — March 2, 2007 @ 9:05 pm

  9. [...] if we needed any more confirmation that rich media is the hottest ticket on the [...]

    Pingback by Hello YouTube, Please Come In, Make Yourself at Home | Search Engine Optimisation & Online Marketing Ireland .:. Red Cardinal — June 20, 2007 @ 12:15 pm

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