Feb 09

According to a recent study done by comScore, social networking is ranked as the most popular content category for worldwide engagement, with market penetration of 85 percent in 41 out of 43 markets. That’s a pretty powerful statement to soak in, yet comScore continues to dissect the data even further in their 69 page whitepaper labeled It’s a Social World: Top 10 Need-to-Knows About Social Networking and Where It’s Headed.

Image courtesy of vabulous.com

Data was collected from 2 million people and sourced from 171 countries with data reported specifically for 43 countries. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, MySpace, SlideShare and many more were included in the analysis.  We realise not everyone has the time to read the entire report, so the top 10 noteworthy trends and points to consider are highlighted for convenience below.

#1. Social networking is the most popular online online activity worldwide. That translates to 19 percent of all time online. To break that down even further, it means that 1 in every 5 minutes is spent on social networking sites globally.

#2. Social networking behaviour both transcends and reflects regional differences around the world. Although social networking engagement varies per country (93 percent in the U.S. compared to 53 percent in China) it is pretty safe to say that in general, over half of local online populations are actively using social media.

#3. The importance of Facebook cannot be overstated. Not surprisingly, Facebook (launched in 2004) reaches more than half of the world’s global audience (55 percent) and accounts for approximately 3 in every 4 minutes spent on social media and 1 in every 7 minutes spent online around the world.

#4. Microblogging has emerged as a disruptive new force in social networking. This is in large part due to the Twitter phenomenon that began to emerge significantly in 2009. Twitter now reaches 1 of 10 internet users worldwide and grew 59 percent in the past year.

#5. Local social networks are making inroads globally. Most of the Top 20 social networking sites may be based in the US, but in many cases the majority of the audience now reside outside of the U.S. For example, LinkedIn’s highest market penetration is from the Netherlands.

#6. It’s not just young people using social networking anymore – it’s everyone. In the last 18 to 24 months since comScore released this report the audience has been quickly changing from young to everyone. In fact, the fastest growing age segment is the over 55 crowd.

#7. ‘Digital natives’ suggest communications are going social. Social networking is the norm for digital natives between the ages of 15 and 24 that have grown up with the internet. In fact, most communication is now over social media versus email and mobile. The highest average engagement worldwide is with this age segment, which is an important indicator for the future.

#8. Social networking leads in online display advertising in the U.S., but lags in share of dollars. Social networking sites account for 1 in 4 U.S. display ad impressions. However, even though more than a quarter of ads are seen on social networking sites, they only attract 15 percent of U.S. display ad dollars.

#9. The next disrupters have yet to be decided. Social networking audiences gradually shifted from MySpace to Facebook who has remained on top for several years. Google+ is showing traction as it surged to over 25 million users in less than one month, which is the fastest any social networking site has grown, but whether it continues its popularity remains to be seen. However, the numbers are still impressive considering it took Facebook 36 months and Twitter 33 months to gain that kind of audience.

Social sites to keep an eye on are microblogging sites such as Sina Weibo, Tumblr, and Badoo. Social content-sharing site Pinterest’s engagement skyrocketed 512 percent over the course of six months in 2011, which is a sign of the overall increase in social media interest in general.

#10. Mobile devices are fueling the social addiction. Mobile devices represent the future of social networking from a technology point of view. In October 2011, one third of the U.S. population accessed social networking sites on their mobile phones at least once a month. Across the five leading European markets of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and United Kingdom, that number was nearly 25 percent.  Of special note is the increase in smartphone usage and popularity of tablets as an influential factor on  mobile social media engagement.

To Conclude

If social media is here to stay, then it’s imperative for brands to determine which social networking sites are relevant for its customer segments. ComScore’s report talks a lot about the numbers which indicates which social networking sites are the most popular, and therefore the minimum to be engaged.

However, there are social networking sites that are segment specific, indicating the ever growing fragmentation of social media. In fact, additional research suggests the number of  mentions or likes doesn’t necessarily determine the popularity of a brand, but dispersion amongst the various social networking sites does. In other words, the wider and broader the discussion of a brand or campaign within online social media, the more likely it will become popular (Source: avc.com). Something to consider for the ever evolving social networking strategy.

About Preview Networks

Preview Networks is a platform for brands and content aggregation and syndication platform for publishers. We provide the tools for brands to centrally distribute and manage marketing and PR content across media destinations, devices, and commerce platforms; allowing media partners to automate content acquisition delivering audience and advertising revenue growth.

One Response to “Social Media is Here to Stay: 10 Things You Should Know”

  1. [...] media is here to stay. A recent study by ComScore (summarized here), states that social media is now the most popular online activity in the world. Interestingly, the [...]

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