What an amazing start to 2014!
There have been some incredible social media statistics released in the last month or so that have caught our marketing eye, from the growth of Vine, to the leverage of Pinterest, to the 10th birthday statistics of Facebook.
What we especially liked was that 2013 finally proved what we have been saying for years: social media is a serious game changer and needs to be leveraged for business.
Social Media 2014: Statistics and Trends
So what what were the stats from the end of 2013, and what network news is there, and what trends have we spotted? The three main takeaways for us were:
• Last week saw Facebook’s 10th birthday (how is that possible?!) and they count nearly half the world’s online population as active users (amazing!)
• In addition, 20% of all search clicks are now via mobile, thus confirming that a mobile marketing strategy is ESSENTIAL if you want to want to ensure you are reaching all your potential customers.
And if that leaves you feeling depressed because frankly you have too much on your plate already and maybe you are stuck in the middle of the digital skills gap that is so prevalent at the moment amongst marketers, then we can help unstick you as we about to launch new dates for our essential Social Media Masterclasses – sign up here if you would like to be notified when they go live.
So, let’s have a spin round the rest of the most significant social media statistics and network news updates, starting with Facebook.
The biggest news for social media marketers just right now is that Facebook turned 10 years old last week, which prompted the latest in our irregular features focusing on Facebook covering changes to the network that affect you as a marketer.
Despite being one of the oldest, the network still leads the pack worldwide, with 49% of the world’s population currently active users. Interestingly, however, probably as the result of maturity and competition, its growth declined for the first time last year, by 3%, causing much media and some ill-conceived research speculation, which Facebook and other research quickly refuted. Facebook have just lunched their mobile Paper app (seems popular and we can already see the marketing potential), as well their Look Back video (not so popular initially, and they quickly made it editable), and seen external research confirm their continued insistence that Teens still love them!
In addition, Facebook’s revenue surged 63% on strong advertising sales over the last year, which is part of the general global surge in internet advertising spend where a 32% climb in global internet advertising spend has revealed the growing power of digital marketing.
With just over 500 million users, of whom there are 241 million monthly active users and 184 million mobile users, Twitter is the 6th largest network worldwide. Staggering figures by anyone’s standards.
However, Twitter growth slowed to ‘just’ 2% in 2014 (what other American sector, let alone business, can claim 2% growth at the moment I wonder?), and last week their first report as a public company showed a slight drop in user growth and engagement, leading to stock market wobbles and the usual doom and gloom media predictions, despite Twitter showing stronger post-IPO figures than either Facebook or LinkedIn.
Seems to us it’s more likely to have slowed as a result of all the internal changes they’ve been through over the last year, including launching Vine, their IPO in November last year, updating their interface, making advertising available to all, and launching card analytics, a nifty service which should help marketers track, measure and prove ROI more precisely.
Our prediction? Twitter will be fine, just get in there and start leveraging it properly for business.
YouTube now has 1 billion users, is the second largest network after Facebook, and not withstanding yet another media prediction of ‘failure’ after its growth slowed last year (sigh), according to Neilson it reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any other cable provider.
It also reaches waaaay more teens (ages 12-17) than any other network, with 45% of them using YouTube and tweens (7-12), 23% of whom have a YouTube account.
So, if you are in the business of appealing to the younger demographic, whether that’s with clothes, music, gadgets, make up or beauty products, then YouTube should be central to your social media strategy – and don’t forget that it is localised in 56 countries and 61 languages, so offering plenty of opportunity for locally-focused campaigns.
From an fairly unimpressive start in 2011, Google+ has leapt in users over the last couple of years, and now comes in fourth worldwide after Chinese site QZone, with a user base of over 623 million and a growth rate of 6%.
User experience tells us it is much more widely used in the last year than previously and now has a much broader demographic than the original early initiators and geeks.
However, businesses are being pretty slow to catch on, despite the fact it is so deeply integrated into Google search at a time when organic search pretty much everywhere is taking a hammering and from every angle – Matt Cutts, for example, recently declared the death of guest blogging for SEO purposes, which we suspect means they are going to use prioritise G+ author verification.
Our prediction is that this is G+ is one network you simply can’t afford to ignore if you do any form of marketing, and that you should get in there before other businesses wake up to its potential – and do come and say hello if you take our advice or are already a user!
Following it’s makeover last year, LinkedIn will undoubtedly get an extra boost from its integration with China’s popular messaging app WeChat, which has over 500 million registered users in China alone. Interestingly, LinkedIn already has 3 million users in China, despite not having a Chinese version, and is one of the few Western social media networks with Chinese penetration.
In addition, founder Reid Hoffman has previously highlighted the importance of Android smartphones in China, and with WeChat’s team clearly being highly experienced at mobile marketing, as shown by their clever recent Chinese New Year campaign, which tied gifting money via mobile into the Chinese tradition of New Year money gifts, this is clearly a partnership that is worth watching.
Pinterest continues to go from strength to strength despite relatively low numbers – while it grew 6% last year, that only took it to 70 million users – and the picture sharing network continues to punch above its weight.
So much so in fact, that it recently overtook Facebook for UK referral revenue, and last year it beat email to become the USA’s third most popular way to share online after Facebook & Twitter, according to ShareThis.
Recent statistics confirm our gut feeling that Vine has really gelled with it’s 6-second video sharing capability – it now boasts 40m users ie it’s grown as big as Foursquare!
Now, that’s pretty amazing growth considering Foursquare has been around a lot longer than Vine, which was launched just a year ago by Twitter.
And if your brand is still not using Vine yet, or confused as how to leverage it, here’s a good starting point for using Vine for marketing.
Instagram enjoyed the greatest growth (+23%) to 150m users by end of 2013, in part probably fuelled by its video capability, giving the network a global penetration of just under 10% worldwide.
According to Social Bakers, teens are one of the fastest growing demographics using the app, and a recent survey showed it’s the favourite network for 23% of tween girls (ages 8-12) and 44% of teen girls (13-17) so that could give it’s ratings a real boost going forward.
Snapchat, the ephemeral photo-sharing app so beloved of teens, suffered a major privacy leak that affected 4.6m of its users on New Year’s eve, followed by a huge wave of spam Snapchats.
Since then, security has been tightened, although the first ‘Spot the ghost’ security lock that they introduced soon afterwards was quickly hacked and exposed as ineffective, so has been replaced with a very cute verification window featuring nine cartoon pictures, which should help prevent spambots.
With no analytical capabilities, Snapchat has not really registering with many marketers or brands as yet, but it clearly lends itself to competitions and offers aimed at its demographic, so we see this as a network that will be part of the Gen Z marketing trend as the eldest of that demographic turn 18 this year. No idea where to start? Ask us.
Other Network News
In other network news, Jelly, another photo sharing app, launched last month, although this one is a much more grown-up affair than Snapchat.
While it looks promising, the network will take a while to mature (as every social media network has to, although the maturity cycles are getting ever faster), so ignore the doom and gloom merchants and start playing with it now its still in its infancy.
Social Media Marketing Trends
Overall, one of the major trends we have been commenting on for a number years now is the rise in visual content, and Jelly is the latest to join the ever-increasing plethera of photo/video sharing sites, from the senior citizen, Flickr, through to Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, Vine, Whisper and Tackk. Although to be honest, sharing visual content on social media sites is looking less like a trend and just the way people prefer to share – they do say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that is a mantra you should live by when marketing on social media.
Another significant trend is integration as the networks get bigger and more of them come online, and people will literally blend their network usage as teens are already doing. I also think that we will see a shift from marketers seeking ‘social media activity’ (ie likes, shares, comments) to a recognition that they need to drive engagement to bring fans into the Sales funnel – and for Sales to finally see social media as a useful tool they need to access – and that the rest of the business also needs to get involved in social media, from customer service to recruitment ie become a Social Business.
And finally, we will also see an increased need to understand metrics as we monitor and track activity in order to measure, analyse and predict in order to make the best with what we have and can do with time and resources.
It’s a data-driven, visually-orientated, social world out there and if you, like me, find that exciting, then let’s go play.
Contact us today, and let us help you take your digital and social media marketing to the next level.