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Posted by Nate Elliott on December 17, 2008
[Posted by Nate Elliott]
Since this is my first post here, let me begin with an introduction: I've worked at JupiterResearch — now a division of Forrester — for almost six years, first in New York, then in London, and now Berlin. During that time my research has focused primarily on video and rich media advertising, social marketing, and search marketing. I joined Forrester via their acquisition of Jupiter in July 2008, and I'm excited to announce that starting in January I'll be working as a Forrester Principal Analyst serving Interactive Marketers, and that I'll be based out of Vancouver.
Over the past year, I've had a number of European clients ask me which social network they should use for their social marketing campaigns. When they ask that question, the first thing I do is make sure that marketing on a social network is the best strategy for them — something that can be achieved by using Forrester's POST methodology. For many advertisers, marketing on a social network does fit their objectives and strategies, and so the question remains: how can they choose the best social network for them? To answer that question, I recently published a report called 'Social Selection: Choosing the Best Social Network for Your European Social Marketing Efforts.'
First, I should explain how I chose which social networks to discuss in this report. MySpace and Facebook were obvious choices — although many people still think of them as 'American' social networks, they're clearly the two largest networks in Europe as well, and the first two networks we're usually asked about by marketers in any country. I also discuss Bebo in the report; their only real European presence is in the UK and Ireland, but they're strong enough in those markets to make them a key player — and they're usually the third network European marketers ask about. There are many other notable European social networks, of course, but some of them accept only limited advertising (e.g., StudiVZ), some are strong only in very small markets (e.g., Hyves), some focus on specialized niches (e.g., Stardoll), and some simply don't attract as much attention from the advertisers I speak with.
Second, just to be clear, there is no single "best" choice for all European marketers, and the report specifically doesn't pick a "winner." Instead, it walks advertisers through a number of different considerations they should keep in mind when choosing a network, based upon their objectives and strategies, and then gives our opinions on how well Facebook, MySpace and Bebo perform on those criteria. Only by evaluating which considerations are most important to them can advertisers choose the network that's best-suited to their marketing efforts.
Here are the things I encourage advertisers to think about when choosing a network, and an overview of which network I think performs best on each of those criteria in Europe:
If you're a European advertiser interested in marketing on social networks, think about which activities your target audience is ready to engage in and what your own objectives and strategies are. Once you answer that question, then have a look through this list — and I think it'll be a lot clearer which social network is the right one for you.
I'd love to hear your opinions — which of these considerations are most important to you? Are there any key ones I've missed? Do you agree with my assessments of which network is strongest for each criteria in Europe? And are there other networks I didn't talk about that excel in helping marketers reach their goals?