15Social Networking as Marketing

The popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn is phenomenal. Social networking sites make it easy for people to create profiles about themselves and use them to form virtual networks combining their offline friends and new online friends. According to Twitter, there are 284 million monthly active users, and people generate an average of a half a billion tweets a day. Facebook now reports 890 million daily active users, and LinkedIn, the largest professional social network, has more than 300 million members. And it's not just the United States; social networking is extremely popular all over the world. For instance, more than 80 percent of Facebook users are outside the United States. Not all visitors to these sites create their own profiles, but there are millions and millions of people who do—to share their photos, journals, videos, music, and interests with a network of friends.

While these huge numbers are impressive, we can easily lose track of what this means to us as marketers. When we consider the reach of influential people on social networking sites, we should rethink our notions about who can best spread our ideas and tell our stories. Many people tell me that they want to get quoted in important publications like the Wall Street Journal or have their products mentioned on television news networks like the BBC or on shows like the Today show. These media hits are seen as the holy grail of marketers. ...

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