Keeping pace with mainstream social media

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Keeping pace with mainstream social media
Keeping pace with mainstream social media

Social network membership is growing among average Americans, according to a recent Forrester Research study. The most rapid growth has occurred among consumers 35 and older; however, the report found that all ages and demographics use social networking sites regularly.

"This means the time to build social marketing applications is now," said Sean Corcoran, an analyst at Forrester who wrote the report. He points out that 75% of Americans are a spectator of what's happening on one or more social networking sites.

The giant in the space remains Facebook, which gets 87.7 million unique viewers per month, according to ComScore. MySpace, with nearly 70 million unique monthly visitors, has seen growth stagnate over the past year. Other recent climbers are Twitter (21.2 million visitors) and LinkedIn (8 million).

"In 2009, everyone is participating socially," Corcoran said. He advised adding social elements to any campaign targeting those 35 years or younger, but noted that the older crowd is certainly online as well: "Seventy percent of online adults 55 and older say they tap social tools at least once a month."

Despite its broad appeal, social media is still a channel for relevant, compelling niche offers. Brisas Hotels & Resorts narrowed its audience focus to women 21 to 40 when it launched a bilingual Facebook campaign, "Chicas y Margaritas," last week.

Normally, the Mexican hotel chain seeks to promote its golf resorts, romantic getaways and leisure travel attributes to business travelers, couples, families and retirees.

"We wanted to inspire women across the nation to come together to celebrate friendship, while at the same time helping those in need," said Pilar Arizmendi, US spokesperson for Brisas.

The campaign asks women to become a fan of the hotel and post an entry to the page. For every entry, the participant is entered into a contest to win a trip to a Brisas' beach resort in Mexico with four girlfriends, and $1 is donated to Fondo Para la Paz, a nonprofit that supports rural communities in Mexico.

"We wanted to combine doing good with having fun," Arizmendi said. "This is just the kind of thing that fits the social networking environment — girlfriends encourage each other to sign up."

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