IE Focus | By David Gracia, Professor at IE Business School
The social networking phenomenon is unstoppable, but there is still no business model capable of successfully exploiting the services these companies provide.Social networks are attracting more and more consumers´ attention. As a result, they are becoming an unbeatable opportunity for advertisers to showcase their products and services to potential consumers. However, advertisers´ and users´ interests are not always the same and social networks need to find a balance so that they can attract new users and, at the same time, capitalize on their services in an Internet culture ruled by freebies. It is a three-edged challenge: advertisers, users and the social networks themselves.
Social networks are a particularly attractive platform for advertisers. Facebook, which has just completed its sixth year, was visited by 460 million people in February, 13.3 million of them from Spain (according to figures released by Nielsen). If Facebook were a country, it would have the third-highest national population on the planet, with more than 400 million inhabitants.
The comparison between Google and Facebook is particularly interesting. On the one hand, the percentage of Internet users that use the search engine in Spain is 91%, whereas only 53% use the social network. On the other, the key factor lies in the time spent by users on the site: whereas with Google people enter, search and leave, whereas Facebook users are getting more and more involved in a growing number of activities. On average, users spend 1.45 hours a month on Google, which is very little in comparison with the 6.5 hours they spend on Facebook.