Nearly half of search marketers placed content on social networking Web sites in February 2007, according to the "iProspect Search Marketer Social Networking Survey" sponsored by iProspect and conducted by JupiterResearch.
Respondents said they had "proactively placed content" on MySpace, YouTube, LinkedIn and other social networking sites.
Marketers said they placed content on these sites to drive traffic, create brand awareness, sell directly and influence purchasing. Site placements were chosen to match marketing goals. For instance, MySpace and del.icio.us were used to drive traffic, while Amazon was used to sell goods directly.
Search marketers may be seeding content on social networks, but does that content generate product searches?
The common belief not so long ago was that social networking users would prefer to conduct searches from within social networking sites, rather than going to external search engines. That feeling was in part what spurred Google to commit to its $900 million deal with Fox Interactive Media last year.
Thus far, MySpace is meeting or exceeding all of the guarantees it made to Google, a MySpace
spokesman told eMarketer in an interview for the Social Network Marketing: Where to Next?
report. But some surveys are sending a somewhat less bullish message about the value of search advertising on social networks.
A January 2007 Jupiter/iProspect study asked whether people had used the search function on the sites: 77% of MySpace users and 78% of Facebook users had. The most common reason was to search for other people: Nearly half of Facebook users and 35% of MySpace users had done so. Entertainment was the second-most-common search topic among the choices offered, particularly for MySpace users. The percentages of respondents who used the sites to research or purchase a product or service were in the single digits.
The authors of the Jupiter/iProspect study noted, "Internet users who visit social networking sites do so for a variety of reasons (or intents) including: for entertainment, to connect or network with others, to research a product or service, to purchase a product or service, and ‘other.’ The vast majority does not go to these sites with the intent to research or purchase products/services."
"Social networking sites and search marketers need to understand the way people use search on social networks and make sure their expectations for ROI are in sync," says eMarketer Senior Analyst Debra Aho Williamson.