Users of online social networking services and web sites appear to have very little loyalty to the networks they use, with many hopping between networks thanks to a growing number of interconnections and links between these sites, according to research from Park Associates.
MySpace users were found to be particularly unfaithful, according to the 'Web 2.0 & the New Net' report, which found that nearly 40% of its users keep profiles on other social networking sites (such as Friendster or Facebook). Perhaps not surprisingly, user loyalty among the smaller social networking sites was also low, with more than 50% of their users actively maintaining multiple profiles.
Marketers who want to take advantage of the social networking phenomenon will need to link into more than just the top two or three networks, it seems. The trends identified in the report highlighted a peculiar aspect of the market for social networking services: Nearly half of all social networkers regularly use more than one site. In fact, one out of six users make use of three or more such sites.
The result is an increasingly interlinked environment tied together by links, "widgets", and of course the users themselves. According to John Barrett, the lead author of the report, services like MySpace represent a growing ecosystem that now extends beyond the original bounds and ties set up by the services involved.
In Barrett's view, this kind of environment creates fertile ground for new social networking sites and application providers: "A handful of users are all it takes to connect new services to the MySpace-centred environment. From there it can begin to spread virally, assuming of course that it offers something people want."