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Selling Products and Services Using Social Networks

The article is about the kid that started facebook, a social network for highschool and college kids.

The half-a-billion-dollar kid,

Commentary: Facebook gets $550 million valuation - By Bambi Francisco, MarketWatch

"Additionally, social networks are becoming a good environment to sell products, especially if marketers want to cultivate a brand and get its loyal users to do the selling and evangelizing. That evangelism happens in a community.

MySpace has the biggest community today. According to Nielsen//NetRatings, MySpace had 36.3 million unique visitors, and 19.3 billion page views in the month of March. MySpace users spent an average of 2 hours on the site each month. Facebook had 6 million unique visitors, and 1.4 billion page views. The average time spent on Facebook was nearly 1 hour. I asked Yahoo Chief Financial Officer Susan Decker Tuesday (after Yahoo reported) if Yahoo had its version of MySpace and Facebook. Decker said Yahoo does have its Yahoo 360 service.

Despite Yahoo's pervasiveness, it's surprising that this community isn't gaining even more traction than MySpace and Facebook. Yahoo 360 had 6.1 million unique visitors in March. Visitors generated about 99 million page views, but they spent an average of 15 minutes on the service.

As for Google's social-network service called Orkut, according to Nielsen//NetRatings, the traffic numbers were too low to even be worth counting."

Abour "Flickr was a good business, too, as many users chose to pay the $25-a-year fee for unlimited photo storage and relief from advertising on the site. But that's not why Yahoo bought it for an estimated $35 million. "With less than 10 people on the payroll, they had millions of users generating content, millions of users organizing that content for them, tens of thousands of users distributing that across the Internet, and thousands of people not on the payroll actually building the thing," says Yahoo exec Bradley Horowitz. "That's a neat trick. If we could do that same thing with Yahoo, and take our half-billion user base and achieve the same kind of effect, we knew we were on to something."

Updated. We now know that it is a struggle to market and sell on social networks like myspace/facebook. For the real thing, take a look Amazon. They use many social application ideas, user generated content - recommendations, reviews, voting, etc., found on social software networks. The big difference, Amazon actually makes money selling products and services. Lots of it.

My point is there are differences in purpose of social applications. It is a matter of granularity and information flow - configuration. If you're trying to market or sell products - social shopping - your site has to be fitted with new technologies (xml/rss) to take advantage of all the big social networks.