Here are all of the posts tagged ‘location-based services’.

Social, Digital, Mobile China (Jan 2013)

by Simon Kemp in News

Get ready for some huge numbers, as our latest #SDMW report takes a comprehensive look at all the latest online stats from China.

China has been the world’s largest online market for some time now, but its growth shows no sign of losing momentum.

We’ve explored a wider variety of data than usual in this #SDMW report to give a full flavour of online behaviour and trends across China, so alongside the usual Social, Internet and Mobile stats, you’ll also find some amazing data on e-Commerce, m-Commerce and Location-Based Services.

Here are the headlines:

  • China has 564 million internet users, and the country’s online population continues to grow at a rate of more than 4 million new users every month;
  • There are at least 597 million active Social Media users in China, with Tencent’s QZone continuing to lead, both in terms of registered and active users;
  • More than 1.1 billion mobile subscriptions have been activated in China, and China’s citizens activate 4 new subscriptions every second, driving growth of 10 million new subscriptions every month;
  • Mobile internet continues to dominate in China, with more than 400 million people across the country accessing internet services from their phones.

These staggering numbers give a sense of the scale of the online environment in China, but it’s only when we put the numbers in perspective that they start to have meaning.

China’s Population

A large part of China’s appeal to digital marketers lies in the sheer size of its population: if you took just 1 second to say hello to each of the country’s 1.34 billion people, it would take you more than 42 years to greet the whole nation.

The population is still growing too, albeit not as fast of some of its Asian neighbours.

China’s citizens are also slightly older than their Asian neighbours, with the media age of the population sitting in the mid 30s.

The Internet In China

China’s internet users outnumber the entire population of Western Europe, and continue to grow at a rate of 1.6 new users every second.

Much of the new growth is being driven by people from rural areas accessing online services for the first time via their mobile phones.

China now accounts for 51% of Asia’s internet users, and at 42%, online penetration in the country is well above the regional average of 29%:

Mobile is the primary internet access device for everyone in China, with 75% of the online population using their mobile phone for at least some of their internet activities.

China’s netizens spend an average of 3 hours per day online across all devices, with the most popular activities including:

  • Instant Messaging (88%);
  • Web Search (80%);
  • Online Music (77%).

Online finance activities like internet banking and e-transactions lead the fastest-growing internet activities, and more than 220 million Chinese people now use these services in some form.

Social Media

Social Media continue to be the hottest internet story in China, with active users numbers fast approaching 600 million – almost twice the total population of the USA.

China’s social media users spend an average of 46 minutes every single day accessing social media sites; added together, this means social media users spent at least 167 billion hours – some 19 million years of human time – on social media activities in 2012.

The country’s social media landscape is dominated by platforms operated by homegrown internet company Tencent.

Counting users on its Qzone, Tencent Weibo and Pengyou site, Tencent claims to host around 56% of the country’s active social media accounts, and QZone is home to at least half of Asia’s total social media population:

Weibo have been a real Chinese Social Media success story in recent months, and with more than half a billion registered users on Tencent’s Weibo service, it’s perhaps little surprise that weibo have garnered so much media attention both with China and abroad.

Moreover, 89% of China’s netizens have used a weibo at some time or other.

Active user numbers are a slightly different story though, with Sina’s Weibo service leads the weibo ctagory with almost 300 million active users:

The impressive growth of weibo were eclipsed in late 2012 though, with the explosion of one-to-one messaging services led by Tencent’s WeChat service.

With user numbers already in excess of 300 million, WeChat combines the convenience and intimacy of a messaging platform like WhatsApp and microblog-like ‘public posting’ features similar to those of weibo and Twitter.

WeChat is currently growing at a phenomenal rate, adding around 25 million users per month, the majority of whom are in China. Analysts are confident WeChat will add at least another 100 million new users in 2013.

More conventional instant messaging services continue to be ubiquitous in China too, with the country’s top platforms claiming more than 1.2 billion accounts. Tencent’s QQ service alone claims nearly 800 million users accounts.

In August 2012, 167 million of QQ’s accounts were online at the same time, setting a new record for the number of simultaneous users of the service. That’s more than the entire population of Russia.

Given all of this, the commercial opportunities offered by social media in China are clear, and extend well beyond the simple user numbers.

Two thirds of China’s social media users interact with brands in some way through social sites, and engage with an average of 8 brands each.

80% of the country’s social media users say they use these sites to search for information about products and brands, and almost 4 in 10 actively refer to their friends’ social media activities when making purchase decisions.

Social media use is also spread across age groups:

28% of weibo users actively search for brand information in weibo, and 50% of all weibo users claim to visit e-Commerce sites after noticing relevant information in weibo posts.

These numbers have inspired nearly a quarter of a million companies to set up a Sina Weibo account, and 25% of Fortune 500 companies – primarily companies based in the West – have a presence on China’s most active weibo platform.

72% of Sina Weibo’s users access the site via mobile devices, meaning the service’s contextual relevance has particular significance during active purchase occasions.

This contextual relevance extends to messaging apps too, and Tencent logs more than 700 million location-specific activities ever day via its QQ and WeChat services – that’s more than 8,000 every second.

Professional Social Networking is also on the rise in China, with more than 70 million people now using dedicated platforms to build their business networks:

The largest professional social network, Tianji, is growing at a rate of around half a million users every month, while LinkedIn has enjoyed some success in China too.

Mobile

China’s mobile market continues to expand at an astounding rate, with 4 new subscriptions every second driving growth of more than 10 million new subscriptions every month.

Phones have become an integral part of Chinese citizens’ lives, with 70% claiming that they “can’t live without” their phone.

This may be due to the impressive functionality available on even relatively basic handsets in China:

It’s the mobile internet opportunities that we find most exciting though, and at 420 million users, penetration of mobile internet in China has already passed 30%.

China’s mobile internet browsers enjoy a variety of online activities from their handsets:

  • News (62%);
  • Web Search (46%);
  • e-Books (44%);
  • Weibo and Microblogs (41%)

The popularity of eBooks is of particular note; reading literature via mobile devices is hugely popular in China, and searches for eBooks topped the 2012 mobile search query rankings on China’s top search engine, Baidu.

China’s mobile users are still skewed towards younger age groups though, and 62% of the country’s subscribers are under 30:

You’ll find plenty more invaluable stats in the full report embedded at the top of this post, and over on SlideShare - here are some more highlights:

  • China’s e-Commerce market was worth more than 1 trillion RMB in 2012 (more than US$160 billion);
  • Location-Based Services reach 217 million people in China;
  •  There are 350 million visitors to online video sites in China, who watch a combined total of more than 4 billion hours of online video every month.

If you’d like to know more about this report, please contact us by email, or call Simon Kemp on +65 9146 5356.

We’d also love to hear your thoughts, comments and questions via the comments, or on twitter (you’ll find us as @wearesocialsg).

Meanwhile, if you’d like to download a high-res PDF of the full report, you can do so by clicking this link.

Please note that you’ll find the relevant source for each of the individual stats in this post, and for each of the data points in the report, at the bottom right-hand corner of the relevant slide(s) in the full report.

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We Are Social Asia Tuesday TuneUp #56

by Karen Wee in News

WeChat to implement payment services in 2 months
Tencent has confirmed plans to launch payment services on WeChat, and will integrate the chat app with a PayPal-esque service within the next two months. This highly anticipated development offers greater money making opportunities for the company as retailers will be encouraged to sign up and advertise via the WeChat platform. WeChat’s Asian competitors such as Line and Kakao Talk monetise by offering ads and opt-in marketing to brands with registered accounts and updates users on promotions. Although WeChat doesn’t offer advertising at the moment, it has already signed up top brands such as Starbucks and Nike. WeChat has been enjoying strong growth outside of China, especially within the Southeast Asian region with the service hitting 1 million users in Malaysia in 5 months.

Hootsuite adds Simplified Chinese & Renren support
Showing strong commitment to making headway into China’s internet community, Hootsuite has added support for Simplified Chinese language and Renren, China’s Facebook equivalent. Adding to its existing Traditional Chinese support and integration with microblogging platform Sina Weibo, Hootsuite looks set for a competition with Hubblr, a rival social media management tool for the Chinese market.

Burpple offers Foursquare-ish discovery & friend finding features
A Singapore-born app for food lovers, Burpple users can now discover restaurants and tips posted by other users close to their location via the Explore feature. That’s in addition to friend finding features via Facebook, Twitter, WeChat, address book entries and location. As you may recall, we mentioned in September that the app syncs with Instagram and supports Japanese language. The company is further improving the user experience by organising its data in an intuitive manner – showing what other users have eaten and liked – thus helping the user make a decision on what to eat at the restaurant they’re at. This gives the app yet another one up on platforms like Foursquare and Yelp. Declining to reveal user figures, the company said that users have posted 150,000 ‘food moments’ – Instagram-esque photos with title, comment & location. The app is fairly popular in Asian markets such as Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Japan. With the app’s integration with Tencent’s WeChat, Burpple is expected to gain more mileage amongst Chinese users.

Snapdish secures investment from Digital Garage
Could this be a food fight of the app variety? A Japan-based developer has secured funding from Digital Garage (an early Twitter and Path investor) for Snapdish, a mobile app for food lovers. iOS and Android users can share photos and descriptions of food and drinks on Snapdish as well as Facebook, Twitter and China social network Renren. While details of the deal weren’t revealed, it is worthy to note that Snapdish has registered 600,000 downloads and more than 1.5 million shared photos. The app monetises by working with beverage brands in Japan for branded marketing though the company is still exploring alternative methods of generating income.

Sina Weibo updates NGO platform
In addition to enterprise weibo accounts, Sina provides for public interest and charity groups via its Gongyi platform which has just been overhauled. The intuitive interface makes it easy for visitors to donate money or specific items, volunteer, participate in charity auctions or retweet messages from NGOs and other nonprofits to help generate attention and potentially more donations in the process. The site encourages giving with a leaderboard that ranks users who earn points through donations and other charitable activities. To help protect users from scams, registration is available only to verified users.

Alcohol brands see highest engagement on Facebook
Alcohol brands score the highest marks for engagement on Facebook, with the average post engagement rate sitting at 0.40%, according to new research by Socialbakers. Engagement with automotive pages on Facebook came in a close second. Interestingly overall engagement for all pages has increased 2-3x since the first quarter of the year.

Facebook says it’s ‘way too soon’ for F-commerce for luxury brands
Facebook’s director of retail says luxury brands should wait for Facebook to launch the ‘want’ button before they dive into F-commerce, which should be coming next year. So far, only a handful of UK brands have created Facebook stores for their products, but Facebook has made its payment platform more robust, especially for gifting and gaming.

Facebook adds photo sync to iOS
Some Facebook users can now sync their iPhone photos to a private album in real time, a feature already available on Android and also seen on Google+. Facebook will store up to 2 GB of photos, which can be synced via Wi-Fi or 3G. Facebook has tried to make it clear that these photos will remain private until users are ready to share them. Facebook has posted about the feature in its Help Center but hasn’t yet rolled it out to all users.

More tweets from retailers mean more purchases from Twitter users
Twitter users who see tweets from retailers are more likely to visit their online shops and to make purchases, according to new research from Twitter and Compete. And the more tweets users see, the more likely they are to visit a retailer’s website and click ‘Buy.’ Twitter users who see these tweets visit a retailer’s online shop with a higher intent to make a purchase, meaning that high-quality and frequently posted tweets can help drive sales.

Tumblr breaks into top 10 sites in the US
Tumblr is now one of the top 10 sites in the US, and now has a global audience of 170 million. The graph below says it all. Bravo, Tumblr.

Foursquare’s paid ad platform still waiting in beta
Foursquare announced a platform for paid ads four months ago, but it looks like the company wants to get it exactly right before rolling it out to more brands. The feature is still in beta, and it’s not looking like it will be available outside of the small test group of 20 before the holiday season. CEO Dennis Crowley has stayed tight-lipped about all of the details, but in an interview, he describes Foursquare’s ads as a combination of Promoted Tweets and Google Adwords and says that the powerful Explore button is a strong indicator of footfall for brick-and-mortar stores.

Amazon announces brand pages
It looks like Amazon is ready to do what Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter have been slow to integrate: tying purchases into a social platform. We all know Amazon as the go-to online retailer, but the site has now added Timeline-esque profiles and images, shoppable photo galleries and a feed of status updates for brands who are selling on the platform. Amazon is also providing analytics for brands to see reach, post views, how many people considered buying a product and how many did click ‘Buy.’ Brand posts are limited to 140 characters, but at the moment can be cross-posted only to Facebook, not to Twitter.

Sephora attributes its online success to early adoption
From early on, makeup retailer Sephora has been quick to integrate digital into  all of its marketing efforts, including Instagramming Halloween looks from in-store staffers and offering their Facebook fans a sneak peek into Black Friday deals before they went live on the day. The brand also recreated its online shop in April to coincide with the launch of its page on Pinterest, and the photos and Pinterest-integration show how important digital is to the company’s DNA. Read the full interview for more juicy details.

TV ads for Halo 4 include real gamers from Facebook page
The popular video game series Halo has created a Facebook app to recruit gamers with the promise of being featured in a series of TV ads being aired in the UK, France, Germany & Spain. This campaign is a fantastic way of tying social into other platforms, and we’re sure more will soon be in the pipeline for other brands.

Heinz Beans go to battle
We’ve helped Heinz Beans create a new Facebook app that’s sure to keep you entertained for hours. Grab a friend or start a Battleship-esque match with a fellow fan of the page to splat their beans on toast. May the best bean win!

7 For All Mankind’s new Facebook apps plays Santa for fans
Have you started making your Christmas list? Decide which item you want most from 7 For All Mankind, and you could win it in a new Facebook app that We Are Social has created for the brand. The app lets the brand’s Facebook fans browse the collection and then pick the piece at the top of their Christmas lists that they’d like to win. Christmas comes only once a year, but for these fans, it might just come a bit more often.

British boxer wears Twitter handle into the ring
Boxer Ricky Hatton went back to the ring for the first time in three years, this time donning a pair of shorts with his Twitter handle. And he’s setting a record of sorts by doing so, as he becomes the first UK athlete to compete in a major live televised sports event wearing his Twitter handle. This is sure to drum up his already-dedicated fan base whose tweets of support using the #RickysCorner hashtag have been posted around his gym for motivation.

Guardian exposé says Wonga employee is harassing MP on Twitter
Follow the Twitter trail: A Twitter user named ‘Daniel Sargant’ called MP Stella Creasy, a prominent anti-payday loans campaigner, “mental,” “nuts” and a “self-serving egomaniac,” and an investigation traced the Twitter account to a Wonga employee, the payday loan giant. It looks like the same IP address was also used to change Wonga’s Wikipedia entry to remove some ‘unfavorable’ comments about its deal to sponsor Newcastle United. Wonga has since apologized and claims these were the actions of a ‘junior employee.’

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We Are Social Asia Tuesday TuneUp #52

by Karen Wee in News

Momo in a SoLoMo dating world
Online dating services are big and have evolved rapidly. Last week, we mentioned that Indian website Shaadi.com was the most engaging brand on Facebook. This week, a report by The Next Web looks at the evolution of online dating services in China. Moving on from scouring online profiles in the hopes of meeting “The One”, social networking app Momo allows users to meet new people who are nearby, meetings powered by the confluence of  social networking, location-based and mobile services. The service is barely over a year old and has attracted 16 million users, of which 6 million signed up within the past 2 months. Though the service has a reputation for enabling easy hookups between young people (the average user is around 25 years of age), the company says it was created for a loftier purpose of allowing Chinese urban dwellers to make friends with their neighbours in an increasingly disengaged world. Momo doesn’t see themselves as a competitor to Tencent’s WeChat, which has a similar feature allowing its users to meet strangers, claiming that the 2 apps function on different levels. There are plans to release an English-language version, complete with Facebook integration, in an effort to make headway into the international market.

Singapore-based Sprooki to expand into the Philippines next
Singapore-born location-based mobile commerce platform Sprooki announced that it has secured S$590,000 in seed funding. Comprising a lean team of 8, Sprooki has over 60 mall and retail partners within Asia and Singapore for their services, which enable retail shops to send targeted messages and promotions to potential customers milling close by.  Having recently appointed a representative in Manila, Sprooki is also exploring opportunities in Australia.

RealLifeConnect adds Sina Weibo support for social media check-in stations
“Offline social media” sharing is now available in China through Austrian startup RealLifeConnect’s check-in stations with support for Sina Weibo. The RFID/NFC-equipped check-in terminals allow users to share from stands at events, exhibitions or stores without needing to use their own smartphones. Brands or event organizers can benefit from the service by giving out free cards or tokens at events, thereby allowing recipients to talk about them easily on Weibo. Variations of RealLifeConnect’s social media check-in stations allow users to transfer files or contact details via NFC or RFID, giving the platform more flexibility in application. The company shared that it has seen 50 successful cases through the application of its platform across 5 continents within the past 10 months and is now looking to expand globally.

@WeAreMumbai is India’s first rotational curation Twitter account
India is making another mark in Twitterverse with it’s first rotational curation account @WeAreMumbai, which is managed weekly by a new tweep from Mumbai. The curator recommends things to do and places to see in addition to sharing opinions and ideas for 7 days. The account has gained 848 followers within a space of 3 weeks and received positive feedback. During its first week, the hashtag #WeAreMumbaiQuiz trended in India for 6 hours with 350+ mentions and increasing follower numbers by 150. The account has attracted the attention and following of influential Twitter users within Mumbai and looks set to grow significantly as users get wind of its existence.

More UK businesses adapting to social
A new survey from the Internet Advertising Bureau has found that 55% of UK business execs are changing their company’s strategy to be more social. While this figure is now firmly in the territory of the majority, the more worrying find from this report is that 45% haven’t made any changes at all, mostly because of a lack of confidence, education and training in the area. Also frightening is the fact that just 45% of companies are using social media to raise brand awareness, and an even smaller fraction (28%) are using it to actually interact with customers.

Facebook’s revenue on the rise
Facebook has reported $1.2 billion in revenue for the third quarter, up from $954 million from this time last year, beating analysts’ expectations and sending Facebook’s share price soaring. The lion’s share of Facebook’s revenue came from advertising, which has grown steadily since 2011.

Facebook hit 1 billion users just over a month ago, and its biggest growth has been in Asia, especially Japan, which had a 216% increase in users in the last year. The number of monthly active users in the US and Europe has also increased since the last quarter, though those markets have slowed down now.

Facebook Mobile is marching toward widespread adoption and has now crossed the halfway point in terms of number of users. About 600 million people access Facebook via their phones every month, a 61% increase since last year. The company reported that 14% of its ad revenue came from mobile this past quarter.

Brands see up to 5x more reach with Facebook ads
It’s no surprise that brands that pay to run advertising on Facebook are seen by more users, especially with the recent changes to Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm. But how many more users see these posts exactly? Facebook investigated the top 100 brand pages by fan base and found that using paid-for ads exposed the page to five times as many people. The reach of a single post is amplified more than 100%, and the reach of all page posts from that week increased significantly as well. The study also found that these new fans love to shop more than the average internet user, both online and in store, and are more engaged with the brand and the category. Amazing content can go a long way, but paying to have it pushed up the newsfeed seems to go even further.

Twitter introduces gender targeting for Promoted Products
With Twitter’s simple profile, it’s not always easy to tell the guys from the girls based on a simple bio, but Twitter is trying to do just that to make it easier for marketers to target their campaigns on Twitter by gender. However, Twitter isn’t adding this option to users’ profiles, but instead it’s looking at “signals” in users’ tweets, such as their account name and who they follow, similar to what it uses for interest targeting. And when gender can’t be determined, those users will not be exposed to the ads. Twitter has said that its predictions were found to be 90% accurate in tests.

More than 2,000 brands now have ‘expanded tweets’
Twitter has announced that it now has more than 2,000 partner sites on board for Twitter Cards, which expand tweets to include more of a description of the linked content, as well as interactive media. The potential for this is huge, and Twitter might be headed down the right trail to monetization if it can take a slice of sales from tweets.

Pinterest motivates more online shopping than Facebook
A new study has found that Pinterest is one of the top online destinations for online shoppers looking to browse, easily topping Facebook in terms of engagement and where Internet users go to keep up on the latest trends. 70% of respondents said that they turn to Pinterest to get inspiration on what to buy, with just 17% saying they used Facebook for that. More Internet users also said they are more likely to follow a brand on Pinterest to get special offers compared to liking them on Facebook.

In other news, Pinterest users can now verify their website on their profile page, similar to Twitter’s verified accounts. But unlike Twitter, Pinterest users can request verification themselves, and when approved, a red circle with a checkmark will appear next to their site name.

Yelp buys Qype for $50 million
If you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em. That’s the latest from Yelp’s biggest European rival Qype, which Yelp has just purchased, as it looks to grow in Europe and become a stronger competitor to Google. Earlier this year, Qype soared ahead of Yelp in terms of the number of places reviewed in Europe, which stood at 860,000, so it looks like this is a good deal for Yelp’s expansion.

Romney’s Facebook app finds your most influential friends in the election
If you’re stuck in a heavy red or blue state for the presidential election, a new Facebook app created by presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s team will find your Facebook friends who are most likely to have sway in the election and lets you sway them with a private message or a post on their wall. But will taking a stance on social media change your friends’ minds? Nearly 20% of social media users say they block friends who spout off about politics on their pages, even though 2010 saw a 2% increase in voter turnout, a boost thanks to political messages sent on Facebook.

Tesco Wine and Topshop reveal campaigns to celebrate Halloween
Halloween might be on Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a party. To celebrate, We Are Social developed the #HalloWine hashtag to get Tesco Wine’s followers in the Halloween spirit with the chance to win a few bottles. Topshop is also using a dedicated hashtag and is asking its followers to submit photos of their Halloween costumes using #TrickorTweet to win in-store goodies. Followers can present their tweets to staff at special ‘tweet shops’ in selected stores, where they will get to take home free cosmetic products. The shop is rewarding the best daily photos with £100 gift cards.

New campaign asks Facebook users to ‘Like’ the rainforest to save it
Coffee company Kenco has created a new campaign that vows to protect a square meter of Colombian rainforest for every ‘Like’ it gets on its Facebook page. Facebook fans can return to the page to see how their area of the rainforest has grown over time, as the Likes keep pouring in.

We Are Social appointed to accounts for Evian, Volvic and Badoit
We’re incredibly thrilled to be starting work with three fantastic bottled water brands that have taken the plunge into social media. We Are Social has been appointed to work with Evian, Volvic and Badoit. Watch this space for our work with them as it goes live.

Tweet your composition to save Amsterdam’s orchestra
Amsterdam’s Metropole Orchestra could be on its last strings because of cuts to public broadcasting in the Netherlands. In an attempt to save it, they’ve paired Twitter with a digital piano interface and asked fans to tweet their compositions. The orchestra will select and perform the most interesting Twitter songs and play them in a live broadcast from the studio.

Foursquare drops new badges for Halloween and two UK exclusives
Cheers, Foursquare: In the last week, the social check-in platform announced two new badges available only in the UK that celebrate the country’s two favorite drinking occasions: the after-work pint and the afternoon high tea. Sounds like the perfect excuse to cram both events into the same day. Foursquare has also released three new badges for Halloween, including a standard 2012 pumpkin and a special spooky swarm.

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Five Friday Facts #50

by Karen Wee in News

How much do Chinese social media users value their privacy?
Privacy is a key concern for many social media users around the world, so it was interesting to review the statistics presented in a recent Nielsen survey of Chinese social media users. The results revealed that 38% of Chinese users create profiles with real names on social networking sites while only 23% and 13% do so on microblogs and location-based services respectively. 23% of microblog users posted personal updates frequently whilst 19% of social networking users and 15% of location-based service users did so. In terms of friend requests, microblog users were the most approachable with 63% accepting friend requests while only 59% do so on social networking sites and 48% for location-based services. The data seems to indicate that users tend to utilise social networks for real-life relationships whilst microblogs were used for more casual and open communication with fellow social media users.

How are Chinese netizens using social media?
Statistics gathered in a (different) recent Nielsen survey showed that Chinese netizens used a variety of social media platforms to fulfill their varied needs. With the only exception being the ubiquitous microblog that seemed to be used for almost all aspects of their social media life, social networks were the next most popular platforms, albeit with a strong slant towards the social and fun aspects of their online lives.

How are Sri Lanka’s Top 100 brands using social media?
Statistics gathered in a recent study of social media usage by top brands in Sri Lanka showed that 78.59% of the country’s internet users had Facebook accounts, putting the country at 74th place in a ranking of the Top 100 Facebook countries with a userbase of 1,395,960. The demographics trend younger in Sri Lanka, with 18-24 year-olds forming the largest age group with 572,344 users, followed by 25-34 year olds. 68% of Sri Lankan Facebook users were male and 32% female.

The study showed that 88 of the Top 100 brands had official websites while 5 had sites that were under construction and the remaining 7 had no web presence at all. Examining the home pages of the 88 brands, the study showed that 27 had a Facebook icon, 14 had a Twitter icon, 10 had a YouTube icon, 6 had a Google+ icon, 5 had a Flickr icon, 2 had a LinkedIn icon and only 1 had a Foursquare icon.

The study also showed that there were brands that had a Facebook page but didn’t have a Facebook icon on their home page indicating a lack of integration of social media sharing buttons. An awful pity considering Facebook seems to the social networking platform of choice for Sri Lanka’s increasingly wired population. We’ll be following up with a much more detailed report on Sri Lanka’s social, digital and mobile landscape in the next few weeks as part of our on-going #SDMW series of reports.

More users follow retailers on Pinterest than other social networks
Social commerce is growing with an increasing number of marketers using the power of social media to influence online purchases. Pinterest was the social media darling for marketers registering a userbase of 23.4 million in the US in July 2012, which equated to about 10% of all internet users.

However, user demographics are highly important for all marketers so a study was done to show the age distribution of users in the US. More than 60% of US Pinterest users were aged 35 and above with an average age of 40.1 while 79% of them were female. A study in March 2012 showed that users followed 9.3 retailers on Pinterest versus 8.5 on Twitter or 6.9 on Facebook.

Pinterest was also more influential than Facebook or Twitter in influencing purchases made by US female social media users. The click-through rate resulting in a purchase for Pinterest was estimated at 59% in May 2012. This is significant for retailers as although Pinterest user numbers are significantly smaller than Facebook or Twitter, their users were more valuable from a social commerce standpoint with higher average spend and a higher propensity to share their finds.

Social Media Penetration in the Middle East and Africa
Social networks have been making waves in online sharing mindsets in traditionally reserved cultures such as the Middle East and Africa.

Social networking is on the rise in these regions especially amongst the younger and well-educated segments of the population that access these networks frequently via mobile phones. eMarketer forecasts social network penetration in the Middle East and Africa region at 70.2% or 144.3 million users for 2012.

Facebook is particularly popular in the region, largely due to greater ease of access via a low-bandwidth version that works well on 2G phones. eMarketer estimates Facebook penetration in the region to reach 117.8 million users in 2012.

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We Are Social Tuesday TuneUp #30

by Cai Yu Lam in News

Sina Weibo officially implements ‘user contracts’
We previously wrote about Chinese microblogging service Sina Weibo‘s new ‘user contracts’ that seek to further control and censor users’ posts through the creation of a user committee that will enforce the terms of the contract and mediate any issues. This new scheme has gone live and will apparently be carried out in the form of a points system. Weibo users will be given a total of 80 points each, and will have points docked off for breaching the terms of the contract. Accounts that have been depleted of all 80 points can be subjected to deletion by Sina. At the moment, there is still no sign of the points system being implemented, since there are no points detailed on user profiles as yet. Many Sina Weibo users also still seem oblivious to these changes, and will most likely be largely unaffected by this scheme. 

Your Facebook profile photo is determined by your culture?
A new study reveals that the Facebook profile photo you choose is likely a reflection of your culture more so than anything else. Research Digest points to a study by psychologists in the USA which shows that Facebook users in the US and Taiwan have a distinctly different approach to choosing their profile photos. 200 Facebook profiles of users based at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the National Taiwan University in Taipei were chosen, where half the users in Taiwan were US citizens, and half those in Illinois were Taiwanese. It was discovered that Facebook users originally from Taiwan were more likely to have a zoomed-out picture, where they were seen against a background context. In contrast, users from the US were more likely to have a picture of their face in close-up. The second study observed the Facebook profiles of 312 students at three US universities in California and Texas, and three Asian universities in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan, which yielded the same conclusion. Although this is nothing conclusive, it does suggest that one’s culture influences the act of self-presentation, even on social networks like Facebook. Companies therefore have to be more aware of the cultural nuances of how people in different regions use social media, as this would affect the way they engage their audiences online.

The most social retail brands in India
A study by social media management infrastructure platform Simplify360 looked into how retail brands were using social media in India, and determined that Pizza Hut is the most social retail brand in India. The brand is popular with teens and influences both male and female social media users, and received a large share of positive reviews with 71.3% of all comments that mention the brand on social media platforms channeling positive sentiments, and only 4.45% of negative brand mentions. Dabur, the fourth largest FMCG Company in India, is second on the list and also received more positive than negative mentions on social media, but Indian food products corporation Brittania did not fare as well, with 59.21% positive brand mentions and 13.5% negative mentions. Rounding off the top 10 are Amul, McDonald’s, Big Bazaar, Pepsi, Coca Cola, Parle and Domino’s, which shows an equal number of homegrown and foreign brands making up the top 10 most social retail brands in India. For more information on how these brands fared, here’s Simplify360′s slideshare presentation.

Smartphone habits of users in India
eBay‘s India Mobile Commerce Survey revealed how mobile users in India used their smartphones. Around 94% of respondents log on to the web with their smartphones, while 80% of respondents said they were “always on” the mobile Internet. Another 84% of contributors often use mobile Internet at home, 66% do so when at work, and 55% while waiting for friends. The social, local, mobile opportunities for brands in India are also particularly high, with 65% of respondents locating bricks-and-mortar stores on their phone, while 57% researched brands, 55% attempted to track down special offers and 48% checked product availability on their mobile devices. In particular, 57% of respondents had used their mobile devices to look at prices online before going to a mall or a physical retail store.

Mobile users don’t want to receive social marketing messages
The Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) Mobile Marketing Council surveyed some 1,200 UK mobile consumers about how they felt about social media marketing, and around 35% believe that brands should not have a mobile social media presence. A further 31% said that they actively dislike the idea of communicating with brands via social media, while 44% of users said that marketing on mobile social media was “too invasive”. 62% also said that they did not enjoy reading updates or comments from brands, which begs the question why they followed or ‘Liked’ the brand in the first place. Even though there is a disparity between what consumers say and do, where 23% of those surveyed claim to be happy interacting with brands on mobile social media when a larger proportion of 43% likely do it, this does signal to marketers that they can’t afford to be ‘pushing’ advertising messages on mobile social media.

Nearly 9 of 10 buyers look at reviews before making a purchase
A new survey from Reevoo delved into the way we react to recommendations and how much we are influenced by our friends online. More then half of respondents said friends’ recommendations were influential, closely followed by consumer reviews (48%), advertising (24%) and advice from sales assistants (22%).

One very interesting stat comes from the rather large 88% of consumers who ‘sometimes or always’ consult a review before making a purchase, and with 63% of those spoken to more likely to make a purchase from a site that has user reviews.

Twitter the most popular social media platform for the FTSE 100
A fact that has remained unchanged for some time now, Twitter remains the most popular for the top FTSE 100 companies to stay social, with 69 companies having an official account compared to 63 in 2011.

The research from CorpComms Magazine also shows that one in ten FTSE 100 members are actively engaging on Pinterest, while YouTube is the fastest growing platform in terms of popularity. Facebook has also seen an increase to 47 members having a presence on the network, compared with 33 in 2011. Google+ is gaining momentum with 40% of FTSE companies with a profile.

Facebook releases its own photo app
Facebook revealed its simply named ‘Facebook Camera’ app on Thursday, something that it appears to have developed independently of Instagram, which lets users experience a photo-only version of Facebook and adds 15 filters and cropping and straightening tools directly in the app, marking Facebook’s first foray into photo editing.

Facebook testing regional filters for Pages, post reach data, newsfeed games
Facebook is also now testing region-specific Pages so that the Page’s content can be customised depending on fans’ location whilst maintaining a single number of Likes.

Facebook is now allowing Page admins to see post reach data directly on their posts, making it easier for brands to see which posts are more engaging.

And Facebook is now letting users play game demos without leaving their news feed. The addition comes as part of Facebook’s goal to improve game discovery on its network, in a “try-before-you-buy” type of approach.

New Google+ Android app
Another update on the Google+ side is one that should put a smile on Android device owners’ faces, with an updated Google+ app now available on the platform. This follows the release of the new iOS app at the start of the month and includes a new photo-first interface – echoing Facebook’s app move this week. The app also allows its users to create and use “Hangouts”, edit and +1 posts.

Google+ enhances search results for brands
A new addition from Google now sees Google+ within its search engine results. Previously search results would show a mixture of Google+ recommendations on the top right. Now for some brand related searches, the results come with only the brands Google+ page displayed.

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How Google+ impacts SEO performance
Econsultancy’s Kevin Gibbons has been researching the impact of Google+ on organic search and has written a post testing Google’s own theory that “on average, search ads with annotations have a 5-10% uplift in click through rate and the AdWords Social Extension helps you to show more of them”.

Using Soft32.com’s Google+ page as an example, he set some tests and his results were rather interesting. He concludes that while +1′s are actually currently having a negative impact on click through rates, brands with a strong Google+ profile are seeing growth in organic traffic (especially in the last six months) and finally that a strong social footprint is more likely to future proof SEO – not a quick fix.

British Airways helps Brits home via Facebook with Olympic theme
Airline British Airways is to launch a competition for its Facebook fans, giving away 240 flights to bring people home for the Olympics. Fans can nominate friends and family who will also get a ticket to the Games thrown in. Winners can be from one of 20 selected international destinations, including Sydney, Moscow and LA.

Nominators are limited to those in the UK and nominations are all via Facebook. BA is also offering 50 free flights to family and friends of Team GB athletes.

Foursquare launches Olympic Day Badge
It was bound to happen really and to be honest it is quite a nice tag-on to the Olympics social presence. Foursquare has announced that it has partnered with the Olympics to release an Olympics Day Badge.

The badge can be unlocked by those that follow the games and check-in at two sports-related venues between now and Olympic Day (June 23rd). Tips have been left at the venues from the Olympics and the scheme is aiming to encourage users to Get Fit in the lead up to the games.

London Olympics protesters suspended from Twitter
An “Official Olympic Protestors” group, overseen by Space Hijackers, has had their twitter account suspended due to a trademark complaint from the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. As the Space Hijackers so eloquently put it themselves:

Twitter, the beacon of free speech which so vocally lent its support to the Arab Spring did, of course, what everyone expected and immediately curtailed to the interests of big money and business. We, The Official Protesters, were immediately locked out of our account, losing access to thousands of followers, in a move designed to silence our dissent.

This is certainly a troubling development from the social network and it has been criticised for the controversial move. We Are Social’s Global MD, Robin Grant, commented:

Twitter has a proud history of being a conduit for political protest, and we all remember the parody @BPGlobalPR account that was allowed to build an audience of 150,000 followers despite breaking BP’s trademarks during the Deepwater Horizon crisis.

More recently Twitter stood up for its users by challenging a US Court order to release one user’s data. But in this instance Twitter has been inconsistent with its previous position and let its users down by taking this politically motivated action.

House Beautiful integrates Pinterest from its print magazine
Home design magazine, House Beautiful, has made a rather clever addition to its latest edition, via Pinterest. The publication is letting users post photos from its “Kitchen of the Month” article in the magazine on their Pinterest boards using an app. The apps include the House Beautiful Connect app for iOS and the Digimarc Discover app for iOS and Android.

The magazine is using Pinterest-enabled watermarks on the special section to aid readers to upload direct to their ‘pinboards’. This is certainly a growing market and a great way to link online presence with real-world print editions. One magazine, Real Simple Magazine, has accumulated over 100,000 followers via Pinterest and says it has double the referral traffic from Pinterest than it gets from Facebook and Twitter combined.

Kylie Minogue fans take to Twitter to unlock video
Last week a new video from Kylie Minogue was unlocked by her fans using the social network Twitter. Fans needed to generate 25,000 #KylieTimeBomb tweets in oder to reveal the song.

At its peak, the campaign was generating 10 tweets per second making it a trending topic in just six minutes. Once the number of tweets was reached the song was made available on iTunes and Spotify.

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