We’re already helping adidas, Heinz, Unilever, Heineken, eBay, Jaguar, Intel, Moët & Chandon & Expedia.
Twitter acquires Indian startup Zipdial
In a move that indicates greater emphasis on emerging markets, Twitter has bought over Zipdial, an Indian startup that allows users to subscribe to brands’ content without having to connect to the Internet. In order to do so, all users have to do is to give a missed call to a specific number belonging to a brand or service, and they will receive updates. This offline component of the service will be beneficial for Twitter to pursue users in emerging markets, where smartphone penetration and mobile data usage are still low.
Major brands in Indonesia find success on social media
While major brands like Coca-Cola have traditionally been focusing efforts on TV to launch products in Indonesia, marketers are increasingly citing issues like saturation and clutter on TV as reasons to look to Facebook first when planning campaigns. With 37 million daily active users and 71 million monthly active users, Indonesia has one of the largest Facebook users in the world.
WeChat is testing ads
WeChat has started testing ads in ‘Moments’, its (rough) equivalent to Facebook’s News Feed. So far, the network has been reluctant to include advertising; with 468.1 million monthly active users, this could be a big business. Sponsored posts will be marked as ‘promoted’.
Transfer money via Twitter
Indian bank, ICICI, has launched a ‘tweet to pay’ function. Users simply need to follow @icicibank and send a DM containing the recipient’s username and amount to be transferred. The recipient doesn’t need to be an ICICI customer either.
I joined Rishaad Salamat on Bloomberg TV this morning to discuss how brands need to change the way they approach social media in light of the changes we highlighted in our new Digital, Social & Mobile in 2015 report.
As you’ll see from the video of our chat above, the most valuable findings to come out of this report are not the staggering numbers, nor the impressive, growth of all things digital; much as these things are important, it’s the change in the ways that people are using digital connectivity, and why they’re using it, that has the greatest significance for marketers.
If brands are to make best use of the huge opportunities in social, they’re going to need to make a few changes of their own.
1. Mobile Is More Organic
The biggest shift highlighted in this year’s report was the increasing adoption of mobile social – in particular the rapid adoption of chat apps like WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger, all of which are growing at averages of more than 25 million active users per month.
But that has some serious implications for brands:
- Very few people choose to interact directly with brands on social media. Instead, almost all of their chat-app activity involves direct, real-time conversation with friends. They may well be talking about brands, of course, but marketers can’t see this activity, nor can they measure it.
- If people are sharing branded content, those shares are all organic. They’ve actively chosen to take the content or the link, move to a new app, and then share it. For this to happen, there needs to be a clear, personal benefit to doing so. The traditional ‘share this with your friends for a chance to win’ tactics aren’t going to work either, because there’s no way for brands to track that behaviour.
- Because of this, we’re going to need to adopt a content approach that’s more about inspiring active, peer-to-peer conversation than it is about stimulating the social media head-nodding of likes and RTs.
Key tip: make marketing worth talking about, rather than talking about yourself
2. It’s Time To Grow Up
Too many marketers believe the world revolves around their brands. However, just as toddlers learn to realise that they’re not the centre of the universe, and that they need to exist in social harmony with other people, so marketers need to accept that people aren’t living their lives waiting for the next advert or innovation from their brands.
It’s time marketers learnt the key social skills of empathy, consideration and generosity, otherwise we’re going to continue being that kid who turns up to a friend’s birthday party and expects to be the centre of attention
Key tip: it’s not about you.
3. Think Longer-Term
Most brands still approach social media thinking they’re channels to deliver immediate sales. However, this is a mistake – for two important reasons.
Firstly, people’s primary motivations for using social media aren’t related to learning about a shampoo’s ingredients, or hearing about a credit card’s 1% cash-back offer. People use social media for their own interests – principally to interact with the people they care about, and to tell their own stories. For the most part, they don’t care about brands unless those brands help them with their own, personal objectives. As a result, brands’ social media activities need to be built wholly around their audience’s motivations, rather than obsessing about their own selfish desires to ‘increase likes’ or drive this month’s sales.
This last point brings us to the second, critical part of the mistake, though: many communications channels are well suited to driving those short-term sales conversions, but no other channel offers the opportunities to interact with people on a one-to-one basis, at scale and over time, that social media do. As a result, marketers would do better to use all those other channels for short-term uplift activities, and focus their social media activities on building longer-term equity and increasing lifetime value.
Key tip: stop getting stuck in ‘one night stand’ marketing, and build longer-term, mutual value instead.
4. Don’t Let Numbers Fool You
Almost every marketer I speak to talks about ‘increasing social media engagement’, but none of them defines it in the same way. What’s more worrying, though, is that many of us are still measuring ‘engagement’ in terms of likes, shares, comments and the like.
However, these metrics are all too easy to game, and this has resulted in a plethora of thoroughly misguided marketing on platforms like Facebook, where marketers and their agencies have focused on those activities that deliver immediate, platform specific results, instead of more meaningful, brand-oriented change.
That’s the reason why so many brand’s Facebook pages focus on quizzes, competitions, and questions. However, far too many of these posts are designed to maximise results, presumably so that the marketers and agencies involved can tell a ‘good story’ to their colleagues in other departments.
But we’re only fooling ourselves. This sort of behaviour is akin to asking our partners to tell us that they love us; while they’ll almost always respond in the affirmative, such behaviour does very little to strengthen bonds or help us achieve the outcomes we really desire.
Let’s be absolutely clear about this: there is no point in managing a social media presence for your brand unless it adds real brand value.
We must, must, must move on from our industry’s obsession with increasing knee-jerk response metrics such as likes and comments, and instead focus on the activities that are actually going to make a difference – to us and to our audience’s lives.
If you can’t explain in a single sentence how your social media activities are improving your brand’s bottom line – rather than that of the social platforms you’re buying advertising from – then it’s imperative that you rethink your brand’s approach to social.
Key tip: measure what matters, not what flatters.
5. Be Sociable
The final point is surely the most obvious, but for some reason, it remains the most overlooked. The secret to success in social media lies in its name: we need to be social.
True friendship isn’t built by throwing lavish parties or creating amazing content, much as that might be the way we first get acquainted. It’s certainly built through attempts to mitigate our own insecurities by asking other people to tell us they love us (i.e. ‘click like if…!‘)
Rather, friendship is built through being a friend: by showing we care about the other person, by talking about the things that we share a common interest in, and by being there for them in the bad times as well as the good.
The brands that will succeed in tomorrow’s longer term are those brands who treat their audiences and consumers as equals, not simply as pawns in their selfish quest for world domination.
Top tip: behave like a true friend, and people are more likely to see you as one
2014 was a landmark year for growth across all things digital, and We Are Social’s new Digital, Social and Mobile in 2015 report indicates that this year will see even more impressive numbers.
Including stats for more than 240 countries around the world, and profiling 30 of the world’s biggest economies in detail, this report is the most comprehensive, free compendium of up-to-date digital statistics and data you’ll find.
So what do its 376 pages reveal?
As we’ve seen in our on-going series of Digital Statshot reports, mobile increasingly dominates the digital world, and we’re confident that ‘ubiquitous connectivity’ will gather even more pace during 2015, as cheaper handsets and more affordable data connections reach further around the world.
What’s more, with mobile-oriented services like WhatsApp, WeChat and Facebook Messenger achieving the top social media ranking spots in some of the world’s biggest economies, it’s clear that much of our digital behaviour is now converging around mobile devices.
Based on the trends within this data, we expect that mobile will help to push internet penetration beyond 50% of the world’s population during mid to late 2016.
Before that, though, we expect to see social media penetration reach one-third of the world’s population – likely by the end of 2015 – with new users in developing nations accounting for almost all of this growth.
In Context: 12 Months of Amazing Growth
The digital world passed some impressive milestones in 2014:
- Worldwide social media users exceeded 2 billion back in August;
- Worldwide penetration of mobile phones passed 50% in September;
- The number of global internet users passed 3 billion in early November;
- The number of active mobile connections surpassed the total world population just last month;
Excitingly, the numbers in our new 2015 report suggest that this growth shows no signs of slowing anytime soon:
You’ll find an amazing wealth of data and infographics designed for easy copy-paste into your own presentations in the SlideShare embed above, but read on for our additional insights into the numbers. Read the rest of this entry »
A puzzle game with social features
More than just a puzzle game, Socioball allow players to create their own levels and share it on Twitter. Using Twitter as a level-sharing platform, the gaming app uses the hashtag #socioball to decode image data and make levels created by its players accessible and playable by other users.
— James Heffernan (@jamestothemax8) January 19, 2015
— Gordon (@codegordon) January 16, 2015
Tumblr to create a Chinese version of its platform
Unlike other blogging sites like WordPress and Blogger, Tumblr is still free from China’s Great Firewall, possibly due to the fact that the blogging site is still not known to the masses. However, with Tumblr’s efforts to open itself to the Chinese market, it may soon be subjected to China’s censorship.
UC browser to incorporate real-time Facebook notifications
UC Web’s browser was recently ranked the most popular third-party mobile browser in the world and even ranked above first-party browsers in some key Asian markets such as India and China. As part of its efforts to make the browser more appealing to Facebook users, it will now feature real-time Facebook notifications, and will be the first browser to allow users to receive notifications outside of Facebook’s mobile apps.
WeChat’s investment fund banked US$16 billion in just a year
Since the launch of WeChat‘s online investment fund, the messaging app company has garnered a total of 10 million users in China who have invested a total of US$16.2 billion in just a year. Besides the relatively high interest returns compared to banks, the ease at which users can invest is a strong pull factor.
We’re a mere three weeks into 2015 and as typical for this time of year – no-one is focused on today. We’re all talking about what will be going on by the end of the year, or even beyond. Particularly now that the 2015 International CES conference has come and gone.
Of course, future gazing like this is important, particularly in the fast-moving world of social media. At the beginning of 2014, Facebook still had (some) organic reach and the term ‘vlogger’ wasn’t exactly commonplace. Over the year, instant messaging apps soared in popularity and image centric networks saw huge success.
In 2015 we’ll see many 2014’s trends develop, along with new ones. We’ll see a platform-led approach to social media become less important. Rather than Facebook and Twitter executions, the focus will be on understanding social behaviour, creating ideas that people want to share, talk about and get involved with. Alongside this, the now-mature social industry will be working to prove to brands the value of its efforts.
Of course, there are similarities and differences in the challenges and opportunities facing different markets around the world. As We Are Social’s reach spans eight offices in five continents, we’ve asked our senior management worldwide about how they see the social landscape changing this year.
Simon Kemp, Regional Managing Partner, Asia
The increasing importance of Discovery
As social becomes more ingrained in people’s daily lives, ‘word of mobile’ takes over some of our more day-to-day search activities. People will be asking each other for answers as often as they ask Google, and while many of these conversations will be ‘hidden’ on closed networks like WhatsApp and WeChat, many will also take place in more public platforms like Twitter.
Don Anderson, Managing Director, Singapore
The initial seeds of a new era of Hyper-Experiential Sharing may surface in 2015 with the introduction of Oculus Rift, which is already expected to change the dynamics of gaming, film and a host of non-entertainment related industries. The real potential of this technology becoming ubiquitous will depend on whether users will be able to capture POV experiences — be it hurtling down a 30 metre drop on a pair of skis to summiting Everest — and then share across social networks in the same way we do with video and photos. If that possibility becomes reality, then Facebook’s purchase of Oculus makes even more sense.
Leila Thabet, Managing Director, US
Mobile Default replaces Mobile First
A cell phone hasn’t been “just a phone” for a long time, but more than ever smartphones and tablets are becoming the primary digital gateway for consumers. The reality of Mobile First, in which mobile serves as a platform for driving innovation, is being replaced by a new Mobile Default, in which mobile becomes the primary means for consumer engagement. As these new norms take shape in the hands (and on the wrists) of consumers, brands should be prepared to find new ways to offer value and engage in these diverse, always on contexts. Easy to use applications, image-led, concise campaigns will prove vital for brands if they want to use mobile effectively in capturing user attention and telling their brand story.
Jim Coleman, Managing Director, UK
The popularity of social media means the time to engage with consumers is not dictated by marketers, it’s led by the target audience’s lifestyle and their preferences. Many brands that we work with cater to a global audience, taking this one step further again. As our editorial director Charlie Cottrell wrote in the Guardian earlier this year, publishing models should now reflect consumers’ 24/7 behaviours. Marketers will need to take their audience’s habits and behaviours into account when creating and publishing content across any platform. They will need to analyse the data generated from their content (with a focus on business, not just social results) to learn what works and what doesn’t, resulting in a more effective long-term strategy.
Sandrine Plasseraud, Managing Director, France
The digital economy is nothing new, however its fast pace is drastically impacting companies. 90 percent of the world’s data has been created in the last couple of years. Instead of surviving on one-off campaigns, brands need to create ongoing storytelling to be visible within this data driven world. Content creation is no longer enough. We now have algorithm curation tools, like Facebook’s, making things complicated. Companies are battling for attention – the notion of ‘continuous partial attention’ highlights the fact that individuals now divide their attention among different devices, daily activities and real life conversations, in a desire to be recognized amongst their peers and avoid fear of missing out. How, as a company, do you grab consumers’ attention in this landscape, capturing them on them on the go, without interrupting their daily routines? This will be an even bigger challenge with the arrival of smartwatches and the rise of ‘glance media’associated with it.
Content production will need to take into account ambient proximity and potentially the emotion of users in the near future. The digital scene has been an extremely complex one for businesses, but is becoming even more so in 2015 and beyond. The need for digital transformation is crucial. Most companies claim to have embraced digital transformation, but in reality they have focused on technologies and channels rather than on their organisation and their employees. They now need to put consumers at the centre of their organisation, forget silos, think brand utility i.e. how to be useful to consumers rather than focus on technology and platforms. This is what we call Social Thinking.
Gabriele Cucinella, Stefano Maggi, Ottavio Nava; Managing Directors, Italy
Influencer engagement will strike back
In a world where all you need is reach – the right reach – and relevance, influencers are still one of the best and most effective tool brands can leverage to talk with specific target audiences. We will see a change in the form of collaboration between brands and influencers, from the one shot outreach approach (mainly earned media) to a more structured partnership model (mainly paid media) where the two parties can collaborate regularly to co-create a long term narrative.
In search of content and conversation
In 2015 people will have more and more tools to find content, and the platforms they find it on will change. Google won’t be the only tool people use to search, social platforms like Facebook and Twitter are presenting solid solutions for people who are looking for specific information; people will choose the channels they are already using every day as search platforms. In this important shift, social media will be a great destination to search for content, and brands will start planning their strategies to reflect this, thinking about social channels as a search channels as well.
Bastian Scherbeck, Managing Director, Germany
Explosion of Social Performance
In 2015 “social performance” (performance optimized paid media in social channels), will explode as percentage of total media spend. This poses a both a risk and an opportunity. If done well, analytical expertise and social intelligence will help deliver relevant content (anything from text to interactive experiences), at the right time and place, to people who you know will care about it. However, if it’s done badly (as it often has been so far), it will result in the delivery of irrelevant content to huge numbers of people, with marketers doing it “just because it is cheap” compared to ATL advertising. If the advertising industry wants to thrive and prosper in a digital today and a digital future, it is essential that we use our tools and power, responsibly. Otherwise, we might lose the most important currency we have: people’s trust.
The focus on performance also poses another risk: it shouldn’t come at the expense of true creativity and innovation, with marketers falling into a “target group” mindset. Instead of outdated behaviours like this, a new mindset – what we call ’social thinking’’ – is needed.
Leslie Orsioli, Managing Director, Brazil
The rise of YouTube
YouTube is the second most accessed social network in Brazil, according to the ranking prepared by Serasa Experian. In the United States, the audience is so great that beats any cable network. Strategies focused on YouTube will become essential not only because of the number of people accessing it, but because campaigns developed on the platform offer a wider reach across the social and digital landscape.
Mobbie Nazir, Chief Strategy Officer
If 2014 has been the year of content creation, 2015 will be the year of content ROI. Continue to build content, but be smart about it. It’s hard to produce quality content in quantity, so think about how anything created can be leveraged and re-purposed. Ditch thinking about social as a free-place market. As with any form of advertising, inventory on social is limited and will go to the highest bidder. Make your investment work by taking the time to really dig deep on audience segmentation and targeting on advertising on the social platforms that are right for your brand. Measure the effectiveness of your investment by how your work affects your sales, not just your likes and followers. This is how the most successful, impactful activity on social will stand out in 2015 and prove the value of investing in social media.
Nathan McDonald, Co-Founder of We Are Social
Innovation, addiction and the new normal
The explosion of blogging that created an alternative universe of media and opinion was a liberating era, full of exciting possibilities, in contrast to the mainstream, broadcast-led approach of the last decade. Since then we’ve seen the pendulum swing in the other direction, with concerns over the impact of monetization, commercial and government use of data, and the physical, psychological, and social impacts of internet and device usage. These worries will co-exist with an inherent techno-optimism about new innovations. Even as we start to fetishise wearable hardware (which gathers ever more intimate personal data), we’ll be checking in family members for Facebook addiction clinics.
Even with the Snowden revelations in mind, we’ll demand more online services from governments, and see political parties take leaps ahead in their use of social and digital marketing techniques. The backlash against the increased monetization of our favourite social networks will be accompanied by an ever increasing reliance on social networks to facilitate our lives. As all this becomes the new normal, the pendulum swings ever faster.