What’s The Most Valuable Social Network?

Like many of you I’ve been following the ups and downs of Facebook‘s recent IPO and the stock’s performance subsequently. I thought about it again this morning as I read a release from The Incyte Group (via Research Brief) that states consumers want deeper connections with brands – but open social networks are not where they want to build these connections.  Facebook is the biggest of the bunch and while marketers put over $3B on to Facebook’s revenue line last year, if you speak with many marketers the ROI on that spending is unimpressive.  The notion that sort of pops into my head about marketers searching for the best social network to reach consumers is that of a drunken sailor bouncing from bar to bar, spending a little cash along the way, looking to get lucky.  Facebook to Twitter to Pinterest to LinkedIn.  Turns out that’s not what holds the most promise when we’re talking about reaching them via social networks:

(Consumers) do not expect, or even want, these communities to be part of an existing social network like Facebook or LinkedIn. Instead, their preference is for customer communities that are:

  • Run separately from open social networks, but have strong linkages to them so they can easily share information with like-minded friends
  • Proactively managed by companies
  • Tightly integrated with the company’s website

So what, in my mind, is the most valuable social network?  Amazon.  Think about it – much of the time when I’m on Amazon I’m not  actually sticking things in a shopping cart.  I’m researching.  I’m reading reviews to discover new books or music.  I’m commenting in things I’ve bought or used that are for sale.  When you look at the research findings, Amazon meets all the criteria plus it closes the circle by offering products for sale.  It’s not an ad-supported model but their sales were over $12B.  For a quarter. Several times what Facebook or any other social network’s were.

Amazon is the most valuable social network for marketers because it is for consumers.  Now ask the next logical question:  what’s your strategy on Amazon and is it the best one when you think about it as social and not as commerce?  Do you agree with my thinking here?

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