New research states the obvious for advertising on social networks

In a shocking revelation, research has revealed that adverts running on non-social media sites get better click-through rates than on sites such as Bebo and Flixter.

Via Brand Republic, social advertising network Lotame compared figures with Google’s Doubleclick – although interaction with ‘advertising communication’ was higher on social networks.

There are a stack of reasons why this is the case – the fact that conversion rates and click-throughs can be monumentally different due to designs, ad placement and topics means that these types of comparison are never particularly useful.

But the main one is that when I want to communicate with my friends and family, I don’t give a monkeys about any product unless I’m actively asking about it, or my network are actively recommending it.

When I’m viewing non-social sites, I’m more likely to be possibly searching for something related to my browsing.

If you’re monetising something via social networking, surely the best way is to remove advertising, and just go straight from recommendation to purchase?

AOL buys Bebo for $850 million

I don’t have time to start hypothesizing, but thought this was worth sharing asap. AOL has announced today it has entered into an agreement to buy Bebo for $850 million.

Bebo’s one of the biggest social networking sites in the UK, number 1 in Ireland and New Zealand, and is number 3 in the US. It’s also more focused on the early and pre-teen market, and has also been developing video channels/promotions, including Kate Modern (currently the most successful web TV show).

There’s more info on the purchase as BusinessWire.

My quick response is that I have an element of fear about a Myspace type stagnation due to a purchase, but coming a week after opening up AOL Instant Messenger, hopefully AOL has thought carefully about how to oversee Bebo without destroying what has made it successful. And it’ll be interesting to see what efforts they might make to change the monetisation of the site – something social networks have traditionally struggled with despite huge predictions of ever-increasing advertisement spending.

As long as I don’t get bombarded with cd’s to set me up on Bebo, I’ll be happy.

Social Networks could be good for your mental health…

I recently read an article on psychologist Oliver James, and his book defining the ‘Affluenza‘ virus – the physical and mental illnesses that can come from constantly putting too high a value on money, possessions, appearance and fame.

James claims that the fact English-speaking nations are more Affluenza-stricken, and have rates of mental illness twice as high as nations in mainland Europe. (Interestingly, books I’ve read about Swedish culture, for example, point to the idea of ‘lagom‘ – doing just enough to do well, without being ostentatiously super-successful)

So, and here’s the interesting bit, if constantly being bombarded with superstars on TV can lead to Affluenza-stricken people comparing themselves unfavourably to TV characters, then Facebook etc could actually boost their self esteem and mental wellbeing.

Because, after all, Facebook puts you in touch with your peers, equals, and friends. So you can compare yourself to people who are on an equal footing – and suddenly things don’t seem so bad. (Obviously it doesn’t work quite as well if you start stalking superstars).

So, ignore the superstar accounts set up by PR companies, and start connecting with people who you share something in common with. It’ll make for more meaningful conversations – and make you saner…

You don’t make real friends with Social Networks

Researchers at Sheffield Hallam University have surveyed social network users, and discovered that you’re unlikely to make real, close friends, as reported on the Guardian
Despite the huge lists of contacts you can accumulate, the number of real, close friends is around the same as you’d have offline, and will tend to be people that you’ve met in real life.
Facebook, Myspace, Bebo et al can allow you to message 100s, or even 1000s of friends (In Robert Scoble’s case), but the actual number of close friends is likely to be about……five.
The reason is that humans tend to only really trust people after face-to-face interaction.

That figure may change as users become more trusting in connections made via social networking, but certainly it suggests that the social network would need to result in face-to-face meetings for real trust to be formed.

There’s also research that suggests those people who interact most successfully online are the same people who are most social-minded offline.

With all this is mind, it suggests that simply joining a social network and adding friends etc will simply maintain your existing contact list. The only way to use them to gain new contacts would be to go to the next level of participating in groups and discussion boards etc, utilising the now old school mechanisms of chat rooms and forums.

Certainly I’m a member of a huge range of social networking sites, but the only new friends who have become in any way close friends have come from two very focused forums, and one of those groups came together to attend a real life meeting.

The one reassuring thing is that it means those who put in time and effort will still gain more from social networking than those who just sign up to be part of the crowd…which is the way it should be.