March 25, 2010

Needs Matter

A statistical breakdown of social networking sites and the supposed needs of each network's users. To summarize the findings:
... nearly half the traffic (47%) that Twitter generates falls into the news category. In fact, Twitter users’ interest in the news genre surpasses that of Facebook users by nearly 20%, which would appear to make it the number-one social network for newsies.

Another interesting tidbit is that MySpace users have no interest in news whatsoever. Instead that corner of the web splits its interests between video games (28%) and celebrity and entertainment content (23%).
No surprises here; however, I wonder what the "Other" category indicates. Most of the charts' Other categories are substantial. 26% in the case of Digg. I'm wondering if "Other" covers the topic of stalking. My point here is that other could stand for any number of variable uses that I don't see represented in the rest of the categories. For example, one apparent omission of the research is the fact that the Facebook chart has no segment for "Video Games" or "Gaming". I find it hard to believe that the "Other" category of the Facebook chart covers this area. Anyone with Facebook friends who play Farmville or Cafe World knows that gaming is a large part of what Facebook is used for. It doesn't make sense that the category is unaccounted for in the chart.

Overall, this study is helpful. I think it is necessary for social network administrators to be aware of these differences. Anyone using Facebook over the past year will have a heightened awareness of all the changes made when Twitter became the new kid on the block. It didn't make sense to me why Facebook made the changes. I always thought there were different uses for each social networking site. Perhaps it was my innate librarian sense to categorize them in different areas. Therefore, Facebook experiences substantial backlash whenever they make changes to keep up with Twitter. The underlying lesson here is that, no matter the business be it library, social networking site, or otherwise, they always need to be aware of the user community and its needs.

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