Here are all of the posts in the ‘News’ category.
The wonderful folks at GlobalWebIndex have been great partners to us over the years, most recently helping us to put together our incredibly popular report on digital stats from around the world. In this guest post, GWI’s Jason Mander shares his take on the rapidly evolving world of social media, and what it means for marketers.
Look through We Are Social’s comprehensive new Digital, Social and Mobile in 2015 report, and it’s clear why fast-growth markets are now so important to digital and social trends: regions such as APAC and LatAm contain online populations which are not only vast in size but which are growing at phenomenal year-on-year rates.
What’s more, GlobalWebIndex’s data shows that digital consumers in these fast-growth/emerging markets are some of the most engaged when it comes to online behaviour. We’ve been tracking the daily time that people spend on various forms of media since 2012; by asking our 170,000 annual respondents how long they typically devote to the internet as well as online and offline forms of TV, press and radio, we can build a detailed profile of daily media behaviors. The results show that the internet is capturing more and more of our time each day – with total hours spent online via PCs, laptops, mobiles and tablets growing from 5.55 in 2012 to 6.15 in 2014.
One of the drivers of this is still-increasing levels of engagement with social networks, which have climbed from a daily average of 1.61 to 1.72 hours over the period in question. This offers important food-for-thought given that some commentators still like to proclaim the “end of social networking”. In actual fact, we’re spending more time on networks now than in the earlier part of the decade – with the rise of the mobile internet, and the ability it affords us to connect to a still-widening range of networks at any time and from any location, being a major driver of this.
Click image to enlarge: Average number of hours per day spent using social networks, by country. NB: GlobalWebIndex have calculated these average times using data for all internet users (including those who do not use social media at all), whereas the figures in We Are Social’s Digital, Social, & Mobile 2015 report are averages based on the same source data, but which do not include the data for non-social media users.
That said, engagement with social networking can vary significantly from country-to-country. Typically, it is highest in fast-growth/emerging nations where online populations are skewed towards young, urban and affluent demographics (all of these being characteristics which increase an individual’s likelihood of being a social networker).
The Philippines posts the highest figure of all (with a sizeable 3.42 hours), but LatAm countries follow very closely behind. It’s hardly a surprise that there’s a very strong correlation with usage of the mobile internet here; where the mobile web scores well, we typically see social networking accounting for large amounts of daily media time too.
At the other end of the spectrum, we find the lowest amounts of time being devoted to networks in a number of mature markets; here, internet penetration rates are normally very high, meaning the corresponding online populations have a much broader / higher age profile, and are more representative of the country’s total population.
In short, older segments are better represented in mature nations but are some of the least enthusiastic about social networking – something which has an obvious impact on national averages. Japan appears at the very bottom of the table, with just 0.30 hours spent on networking per day; the lack of enthusiasm for networks generally – and for Facebook in particular – are key local factors in this market. Behind this are other mature APAC markets such as Australia as well as most of the European countries tracked by GWI.
Given these geographic and demographic patterns, it’s hardly a surprise that internet users in fast-growth nations are also the biggest “multi-networkers” (those who maintain accounts on the highest number of social platforms). Indonesia tops the table here, with internet users typically being members of 7.39 networks, but it’s in China where people are most likely to actively use the greatest number of social networks (4.27 per internet user). That there are so many local platforms in China is a major contributor to this, as is the fact that leading global names such as Facebook are not as off-limits as is often assumed.
In some studies – especially those based on data from passively collected analytics – it’s still common to see Chinese usage of Facebook, Twitter and similar sites recorded as zero. This is a major mistake; there are in fact a number of ways that Chinese internet users are bypassing official restrictions on social networks, including accessing via apps (16% in China say that they have used the Facebook app in the last 30 days, and a look at the top apps being downloaded in China on a daily basis shows that Western social networks feature very prominently within the list).
Click image to enlarge: Average number of active social media accounts maintained by internet users, broken down by age and by country.
Significantly, VPN (Virtual Private Network) apps are also being widely downloaded in China – with these tools representing the other major access route for those Chinese users looking to bypass official restrictions. Close to a fifth of online adults in China in fact say they’ve used a VPN in order to access restricted websites or social platforms.
Not only does this trend underline the potential limitations of using passively collected, geo-located data in isolation – which can over-estimate the size of social audiences in markets such as the USA, Netherlands, South Korea and Sweden, where VPN and Proxy servers tend to be located – it also emphasizes the growing futility of attempting to prevent national audiences from accessing certain sites. Most clearly of all, though, it demonstrates why networking behaviors in China – as well as in many other fast-growth markets – are much more diversified and sophisticated than is often assumed.
Our joint research suggests that such ‘brand principles’ are a core tenet of enduring brand success, so we decided to explore this topic in more detail; the WFA have been kind enough to let us share our findings here.
Why it pays to have a compelling brand personality
There’s been plenty of chatter in recent months about the importance of ‘humanising’ brands.
The buzzword may make you cringe, but the potential rewards of building a more personable and engaging brand merit serious investigation.
So, what defines a compelling, ‘human’ brand?
We asked some of the world’s leading marketers the same question, and their answers consistently focused on the same traits that define popular, sociable people.
Authenticity and Sincerity
Brands that try to trick people won’t succeed in the long term; they may generate a few quick sales, but very few (if any) consumers would re-purchase a product that failed to meet their expectations the first time around.
Moreover, people typically form a more favourable impression of brands that are open about who they are and what they do; that treat their employees, partners, and suppliers with respect; and that stay true to the things they believe in over time.
That favourable impression fosters trust, and predisposes us to listen to what the brand has to say. As a result, we’re more likely to try the brand’s products and services, so playing a crucial role in getting people over the first marketing hurdle.
Authenticity is also critical in times of crisis. A number of the marketers we spoke to referenced the transparency and sincerity of Johnson & Johnson’s 1982 Tylenol recall, which – although costly to the brand at the time – ensured that people didn’t lose faith in the brand.
Tip: the truth has more value than deception; if your brand truths aren’t compelling, change the product rather than spending more money on advertising.
We’re universally drawn to people – and brands – who give before they ask for anything in return.
This shouldn’t be news to marketers; we’ve known the power of the free sample for decades. However, this approach has even more potential in today’s connected world.
Brands now have many more opportunities to deliver ‘proactive value’ to their audiences, whether that’s through entertainment (think GoPro and Red Bull’s YouTube content), education (think American Express’s OPEN Forum), or social connectivity (think Coca-Cola’s ‘Share a Coke with…’ and IBM’s Smarter Cities forums).
Brands also stand to benefit if they can help their audiences to be more generous; much of TOMS’s success has been built on making it easy for people to give back to others.
Tip: build marketing activities around what your audiences care about, not just around what your brand cares about.
Humour is central to many of the world’s best-loved commercials, but its potential stretches well beyond adverts.
It’s worth caveating that humour can be a tricky one to get right – especially across different cultures – but when done well, it helps build a highly engaging and sharable brand.
As we saw in our recent post outlining why Social is About More Than Media, Innocent Drinks came up a number of times in our conversations with marketers, especially in reference to the brand’s use of humour on its packaging:
Humour can also turn a mundane customer service episode into a story that gets shared by hundreds of people around the world, transforming a problem into a valuable brand-building episode – as this recent example from Amazon demonstrated:
Tip: judicious use of humour can establish a differentiated personality that draws people into your brand narrative, keeping them coming back for more.
In a social context, we’re drawn to people that are similar to us, or who demonstrate an understanding of the things we care about.
While brands may never convincingly demonstrate an understanding of our inner feelings, they can build greater affinity by demonstrating a firm belief in, or commitment to the things that matter to the people they hope to engage.
As with humour, though, this can be a tricky one to get right; brands need to demonstrate a genuine interest and belief in the things that matter to their audiences, and not merely reflect people’s behaviour in their marketing.
Dove’s ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’ and P&G’s ‘Thank You Mom’ are two common examples that came up in our conversations, but it’s worth noting that empathy works in B2B contexts too; a number of marketers pointed out that American Express’s Small Business Saturday initiative has built considerable brand equity amongst the small retailer community, as well as with society at large.
Tip: actively champion the causes that matter to your audiences, instead of just reflecting them in your advertising.
People who inspire us gain our respect and admiration, and we actively seek out their thoughts and opinions.
This ‘magnetism’ has clear potential value in marketing too, and those brands that inspire us the most are invariably those that can also command the most robust price premiums.
Inspiration can come in many forms, though:
- Nike’s mission to make everybody on the planet more active;
- Lifebuoy’s mission to save lives in the developing world by spending their marketing dollars on large-scale health education campaigns;
- Red Bull’s consistent ability to challenge our perceptions of what’s humanly possible;
- The passion, innovation and visionary leadership of Sony’s Akio Morita and Apple’s Steve Jobs that have made portable technology an inescapable part of our everyday lives;
- Dove’s on-going commitment to help women everywhere reclaim their own definition of ‘beauty’;
Looking at the list above, it’s easy to see a link between brand inspiration and brand ‘purpose’, which we covered in a recent post in this series.
Without this engrained purpose, brands will find it difficult to deliver sustainable inspiration, so the two need to work hand-in-hand for marketers to achieve the best results.
Tip: don’t just aim to engage people – aim to inspire them too.
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 not built through attempts to mitigate our own insecurities by asking other people to tell us they love us, either (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 »