Network-Hopping is the Norm, Welcome to the Mobile Social!

Probably not the most revealing information to anyone who spends time in the social networking environment, but a massive number of social networking users spend time on multiple services.

Carried out by Parks Associates, a market research and consulting firm focused on all product and service segments that are “digital” or provide connectivity within the home, the report confirmed that nearly 40% of MySpace users keep profiles on rival social networking sites such as Friendster and Facebook.

Nearly half of all social networkers, the report found, regularly use more than one site; one in six use three or more. The result is an increasingly interlinked environment tied together by links, widgets, and the users themselves.

“MySpace is a growing ecosystem and one that ironically now extends beyond MySpace itself,” Barrett explains.

Loyalty among smaller social networking sites is even lower than it is for the Big Three, with more than 50% of all users actively maintaining multiple profiles.

In Barrett’s view, this environment creates fertile ground for new social networking sites and application providers. “A handful of users are all it takes to connect new services to the MySpace-centered environment. From there it can begin to spread virally, assuming of course that it offers something people want.”

Since there’s no clarifying detail here, I wonder how much of this is signed up and abandoned vs using them all. I’ve used Friendster, Six Degrees, Ryze and Upoc previously… all dead to me (and most of you) now.

I have profiles on Jaiku, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and MySpace. I don’t use MySpace but felt compelled a longtime ago to check it out and realized immediately it was not for me. I signed up for Facebook when it was first out as well though have been using it only recently. I spend a good amount of time on Jaiku (if you had not noticed) and considerably less on Twitter now. LinkedIn has a very specific professional networking purpose for me and I use it to find job listings as well as people who might provide assistance in my job search. Flickr is largely one way though I do participate in a few groups lightly and post the occasional comment on contacts images.

Social Networks are only valuable if you have “friends” there. I use quotes since the vast majority of my social network friends are not people I’ve met in person and most I’ve never even talked with on the phone. I have met and spoken to a few, but we are mainly friends through shared interests (not just what school or year in which I graduated) and that’s actually been very compelling for me. I guess that’s why I use Facebook less than I have Jaiku / Twitter. Though Facebook’s platformization has been received extremely well. It lets other social networking sites create apps so Facebook can become an aggregated hub. I have a bunch of my info passing into Facebook, but it’s not something I find very useful honestly. It seems that the people who get the most from it don’t actively blog or maintain some outward (since Facebook is behind a registration door) presence.

While users are moving through a variety of social networks, they are also actually moving around. Facebook gets that which is why they are trying to become a clearing house and also when it’s easy to stay connected through SMS and the mobile web. Jaiku and Twitter were clearly started with mobile in mind and is what is truly powerful about them — regardless of which you prefer.

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