Why You Should Avoid Paid Social Networking Sites
We all know that social networking sites are growing very fast. In fact, while the total internet audience grew by 11% last year, the number of new social networking site users grew by 25%.
Facebook holds the top spot among social networking sites, with 153% growth in the past year. MySpace still holds the No. 2 spot, but its growth over last year was just 3%.
Despite this tremendous growth, so far advertising on these social networking sites is nothing short of anemic, according to a report by market research firm IDC.
According to the IDC, more than three-quarters of social networking site users log on at least once a week, and 57 percent do so daily. And more than 61 percent of users spend at least half an hour on these sites per session, with 38 percent staying at least an hour.
Despite these numbers, social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook significantly underperform when compared to overall online advertising. Only 57 percent of social networking users report clicking on an ad in the past year. That compares to 79 percent of all internet users.
These numbers are part of the reason behind the evolution of a fairly new trend, which is paid social networking sites. There are too many to mention, but a few that come to mind are Yowie, Yippi, and Mylot. Before you spend any money or invest your time in any of these sites, educate yourself on what social networking is all about.
The paid social networking sites have largely developed a platform to take advantage of the tremendous success of sites such as Facebook. Their pitch is that they will become just as huge as Facebook and allow you to share in a piece of the pie. So they encourage you to pay to join (although some like Yowie offer free membership) and then recruit other people to join as well.
This sounds a lot like network marketing, doesn’t it? But stop and think about it. Why would you want to befriend anyone whose sole purpose of wanting to interact with you is due to money? The people using the paid social networking sites aren’t interesting in “social networking”. Their goal isn’t to share information with people and meet new people. They want to make money. Just like there are some people who join a network marketing business not because they like the products, but because they want to make money. I would argue that both groups are missing the point and will ultimately fail.
Social networking sites are a great opportunity to share information, make contacts, learn new things and create a community support. To be successful at social networking, you have to be a solutions provider and a thought leader. If you’re not sure what to write about, think about where you can add value, and specifically, think about what makes you unique in terms of what other people want. How can you help people be successful?
I have met some absolutely incredible people thanks to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Hubpages, Squidoo and Digg. While even at the free sites there are people there just out to make a sale, by and large, I’ve met some amazing people who really get it. It’s about helping others, giving freely of your time and knowledge, and opening your mind to learning from others as well. If you go into it with the right mindset and educate yourself on how to conduct yourself on social networking communities, you’ll be amazed at the value you can gain. And for free.