Nearly one in four people worldwide will use social networks in 2013, according to an eMarketer report, "Worldwide Social Network Users: 2013 Forecast and Comparative Estimates". The number of social network users around the world will rise from 1.47 billion in 2012 to 1.73 billion this year, an 18% increase. By 2017, the global social network audience will total 2.55 billion.
Social network users worldwide, 2011-2017:
- 2011: 1.22 billion (23.7% change)
- 2012: 1.47 billion (+20.4%)
- 2013: 1.73 billion (+18.0%)
- 2014: 1.97 billion (+13.4%)
- 2015: 2.18 billion (+10.8%)
- 2016: 2.37 billion (+8.9%)
- 2017: 2.55 billion (+7.5%)
The rapidly expanding social network audiences in the emerging markets of Asia-Pacific and the Middle East and Africa will be huge drivers of social user growth. Though Asia-Pacific will have the largest social network population worldwide through 2017 and the Middle East and Africa will have the second-largest audience starting next year, their population penetration rates are among the lowest.
Out of the countries included in the forecast, eMarketer expects the fastest increases to come from the social network user populations of India, Indonesia, Mexico, China and Brazil.
eMarketer has increased our 2013 forecast for total social network users worldwide by 100 million since our August 2012 forecast. This upward adjustment is based on new data that indicates higher-than-expected totals for internet users in India, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Russia and the Middle East and Africa; new data showing higher estimates for UK social network users than previously forecast; and a new breakout of social network users in the Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Sweden.
Asia-Pacific has the largest social network user base, with an audience of 777 million people and a share of 44.8% of social network users worldwide expected by the end of this year. This is more than triple the size of Latin America's social network audience, which is the second-largest worldwide.
Social network users worldwide by region, 2013:
- Asia-Pacific: 777.0 million
- Latin America: 216.9 million
- Middle East & Africa: 209.8 million
- North America: 181.2 million
- Western Europe: 174.2 million
- Central & Eastern Europe: 173.6 million
TOTAL: 1.733 billion
eMarketer expects the regional portions to shift in ranking throughout the forecast period. Next year, the Middle East and Africa will surpass Latin America in share to become the region with the second-largest social network audience, while Central and Eastern Europe's share will exceed that of North America for the first time. The ranking of social network users by region will largely reflect the regional shares of the global population by 2014. This was an inevitable development, as social network usage has moved from taking place primarily in advanced markets to being a common activity for people around the world.
The Middle East and Africa will have the fastest gains in new users this year, followed by Asia-Pacific. Internet usage is expanding in both regions and is driving rising social network usage.
Through 2015, the more advanced social network markets of North America, Western Europe and Central and Eastern Europe will have the highest penetration rates worldwide. Beginning in 2016, Latin America will pass Western Europe in social network user penetration. Throughout the forecast period, Asia-Pacific's and the Middle East and Africa's penetration rates will be lower than the global figure.
This year, 67.7% of internet users around the world will use a social network at least once per month. This figure will rise to more than three out of four internet users by 2016.
The respective social network user penetration rates as a percentage of internet users for North America, Western Europe and Asia-Pacific (specifically, Japan, South Korea and Australia) are lower than the worldwide figure. The advanced countries in these regions tend to have more diverse internet user populations, as users often access the web for a variety of reasons such as shopping or searching. However, in countries with less-developed online markets in the Middle East and Africa, Asia-Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin America, internet users skew younger and more tech-savvy, and they are more likely to use social networks. Many people in these emerging markets primarily go online via both desktop and mobile devices to gain access to social platforms. (eMarketer, June 2013)
The social audience is growing across networks and countries, according to findings form GlobalWebIndex's ‘Stream Social: Quarterly Social Platforms Update'. The study found that Facebook remained the No. 1 social network worldwide, with just over half of internet users logging on to the site at least once a month in Q1 2013. eMarketer puts worldwide Facebook penetration slightly higher, expected to reach 60% of internet users in 2013.
Behind Facebook, there was a crowded field of second-place contenders, with Google+ out front at 26% of internet users. In the US, Google+ gets limited attention, though its user base is growing. Worldwide, however, Google+ has been much more successful. Given that YouTube was right behind, in use by one-quarter of active internet users, there's no question that Google, which owns YouTube, is giving Facebook a run for its money in the global social network space.
Top 15 social media sites worldwide, ranked by proportion of active users, Q1 2013 (% of internet users):
1. Facebook: 51%
2. Google+: 26%
3. YouTube: 25%
4. Twitter: 22%
5. Sina Weibo: 21%
6. Qzone: 21%
7. Tencent: 20%
8. Tencent Weibo: 19%
9. Youku: 12%
10. RenRen: 10%
11. Tudou: 9%
12. LinkedIn: 8%
13. Kalxin: 6%
14. Pinterest: 4%
15. 51.com: 4%
Twitter came in fourth worldwide at 22% of internet users, but GlobalWebIndex also found that the microblogging service claims the title of fastest-growing social network. Between Q2 2012 and Q1 2013, active users of Twitter rose 42% globally, according to the study.
After these major networks, local Chinese social networks garnered among the greatest percentage of users worldwide, a reflection of both the vastness of the social audience in China and the limited availability of foreign properties, like Facebook, in the country. LinkedIn and Pinterest each came in at less than 10% of global internet users.
Growth in social network usage came especially from the mobile phone and tablet, which were increasingly used for a variety of social activities. Watching videos on Facebook saw among the biggest jumps in usage, with viewing increasing by 47% on both PC and mobile, and nearly doubling on the tablet. Messaging friends on a one-on-one basis via Facebook also grew substantially on mobile phones and tablets.
In terms of which regions saw the biggest user gains, Asia-Pacific countries were the biggest growth drivers. On Facebook, Japan saw the fastest growth, at 42% change vs. Q2 2012. In South Korea, Google+ use exploded, increasing 209%. And on Twitter, participation in Indonesia rose 44%. Saudi Arabia was not far behind, with the number of account holders increasing by 42%.
Top 15 countries on Twitter, ranked by growth in account owners, Q1 2013 (% change vs. Q2 2012):
1. Indonesia: 44.20%
2. Saudi Arabia: 41.66%
3. Singapore: 34.74%
4. US: 34.48%
5. Russia: 33.41%
6. Australia: 28.53%
7. France: 26.40%
8. Malaysia: 23.57%
9. Argentina: 22.62%
10. Philippines: 21.18%
11. India: 19.41%
12. Sweden: 19.20%
13. Canada: 17.96%
14. Thailand: 17.10%
15. Mexico: 16.16%
(eMarketer, May 2013)
Just 9% of web users in France were active Twitter users in Q4 2012, according to data from GlobalWebIndex. Most other European nations studied (Germany and Poland excepted) registered substantially higher penetration rates.
Active Twitter user penetration in selected countries worldwide, Q4 2012 (as a % of internet users):
- Saudi Arabia: 51%
- Turkey: 39%
- United Arab Emirates: 34%
- Argentina: 31%
- Spain: 30%
- South Africa: 25%
- UK: 21%
- Russia: 21%
- Italy: 18%
- Netherlands: 15%
- Sweden: 10%
- France: 9%
- Poland: 7%
- Germany: 6%
(eMarketer, April 2013)
Nearly one in four people worldwide will be social network users in 2013, according to eMarketer's estimates. By 2014, the worldwide social network audience will approach 2 billion. Growth will be largely driven by the rapidly expanding social network audiences in the emerging markets. Social network users in the traditionally more advanced digital countries of North America, Canada, the UK and Japan are approaching a plateau. (eMarketer, May 2013)
India, Brazil and Russia, along with the Middle East and Africa, are driving the biggest gains in Facebook's worldwide user base. Facebook will pass 1 billion active users worldwide in 2013 as the company sees particularly strong growth in its Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa, and Latin American user bases, with each region set to rise by about 30% or more this year, according to new estimates from eMarketer,. By 2014, Facebook will reach 1.26 billion global users.
Facebook users and penetration worldwide, 2011-2017:
- 2011: 685.2 million (56.2% of social network users)
- 2012: 889.3 million (60.6%)
- 2013: 1,091.3 million (63.0%)
- 2014: 1,265.8 million (64.4%)
- 2015: 1,443.7 million (66.3%)
- 2016: 1,609.9 million (67.9%)
- 2017: 1,771.6 million (69.5%)
In the US, UK and Western Europe, growth will be much slower than in emerging markets. About half of the population in both the US and the UK will actively use Facebook this year. In Western Europe as a whole, penetration is somewhat lower, at 37% of the population in 2013. That will rise to 43% by 2017, as consumers in France, Italy and Germany remain marginally less enthusiastic about the social network.
Facebook users will grow from 42.6% of internet users worldwide in 2013 to 54.7% in 2017. While 46.6% of people in North America and more than 30% of people in Latin America and Western Europe will use Facebook at least once a month this year, the Middle East and Africa and Asia-Pacific will have much lower penetration rates, which bring down the worldwide percentage of the population using Facebook to 15.4%.
eMarketer estimates that 63% of social network users worldwide will access Facebook at least once per month in 2013. In recent years, it has been common for users in countries such as China, Japan, South Korea and Russia to use local social networking sites as opposed to Facebook, which gives the site room for growth. By 2017, Facebook users will account for 69.5% of social network users worldwide.
Asia-Pacific has had among the fastest growth rates for Facebook use in the past two years, and through the end of the forecast period will be the highest growth area for the social network. Robust double-digit rates across the region are led by high growth in India, Japan and Indonesia. Growth will also be strong in the Middle East and Africa, though from a significantly smaller base of 127.4 million Facebook users in 2012, vs. 227 million in Asia-Pacific that year.
Asia-Pacific leads the rest of the world not only in Facebook user growth, but in sheer number of Facebook users. By 2017, eMarketer estimates, 616 million internet users in Asia-Pacific will use Facebook at least monthly, with nearly half that number coming from India alone. Latin America is the second-largest region in terms of number of Facebook users, and fast growth in the Middle East and Africa will push that region's Facebook population ahead of North America's this year.
Penetration rates, though, are still highest in the developed markets of North America and Western Europe. In Canada, nearly half of the population will use Facebook monthly this year; in the Netherlands penetration will be closer to two-thirds. While such high penetration does lead to slower growth, eMarketer does not believe Facebook has reached saturation even in the most-penetrated markets. Facebook users as a share of the total population will go up more than 6 percentage points in the Netherlands between 2013 and 2017, for example. Usage will climb more slowly in the US, but will rise from 46.4% of the population this year to 49.6% by 2017. (eMarketer, May 2013)
TripAdvisor is the first travel site to reach 100 million reviews and opinions, a more than 50% increase year-on-year. The site now covers more than two million tourism businesses in more than 116,000 destinations around the world.
Nearly nine out of ten users (87%) agree that TripAdvisor hotel reviews ‘help me feel more confident in my decisions', according to a study by PhoCusWright, commissioned by TripAdvisor. Despite travellers' increasing expectations and demands, the study also revealed that eight out of ten users (80%) agree that TripAdvisor hotel reviews ‘help me have a better trip'.
The benefit of the wisdom of the crowds is increasingly supplemented by the wisdom of friends, as Facebook-connected users currently submit 35% of new reviews on TripAdvisor. With the integration of Facebook on TripAdvisor, this means that travellers are able to see and share valuable perspectives with their own friends and their friends' friends.
The average review rating on TripAdvisor in 2012 was 4.1 out of five.
The coverage and associated usefulness of the site is set to exponentially grow as its user and membership base grow. TripAdvisor currently has more than 200 million unique users a month, more than 47 million marketable members (more than 100 percent growth year on year) and collects more than 60 user contributions a minute.
TripAdvisor Fact Box:
- For a hotel in the top 500 searched destinations on TripAdvisor the average number of reviews is 139and the average number of candidphotos is 53.
- TripAdvisor features reviews on hotels in every country except Vatican City, which has no hotels listed on the site
- TripAdvisor has restaurant reviews in 99 percent of all countries in the world (exceptions: Marshall Islands and Somalia)
- The site features reviews on attractions in 98 percent of all countries in the world (exceptions: South Sudan, Nauru, Equatorial Guinea)
- 16 attractions feature more than 5,000 reviews, with the most reviewed being Central Park in New York with 11,993 reviews
- 26 hotels feature more than 5,000 reviews, with the most reviewed being the Luxor in Las Vegas with 9,904 reviews
- For a hotel in the top 50 searched destinations in the UK on TripAdvisor, the average number of reviews is 240 and the average number of candid photos is 53.
(HOTELMARKETING.COM, March 2013)
For leisure travelers in Asia-Pacific, online peer influence is at the forefront of planning, according to Text100's ‘Digital Index: Travel & Tourism' study, conducted by Redshift Research in October 2012.
The study found that 44% of Asia-Pacific leisure travellers used social media platforms for advice and inspiration regarding travel destinations; more than double the percentage who did the same in the US and EMEA. More than one-third of these travellers also looked to social media to get ideas for attractions, vacation activities and hotels.
Leisure travellers worldwide who have used social media platforms for travel inspiration/ideas, by category, October 2012 (% of respondents):
- Travel destinations: 27%
- Hotels: 23%
- Vacation activities: 22%
- Attractions: 21%
- Restaurants: 17%
Leisure travellers worldwide who have used social media platforms for travel inspiration/ideas, by region and category, October 2012 (% of respondents):
- Travel destinations: 44% in Asia-Pacific* / 18% in the US / 14% in EMEA
- Hotels: 36% / 18% / 14%
- Vacation activities: 35% / 16% / 13%
- Attractions: 34% / 16% / 10%
- Restaurants: 24% / 17% / 11%
* Asia-Pacific: Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, and Singapore
** EMEA (Europe, Middle east and Africa): Denmark, France, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.
The use of social media by Asia-Pacific travellers is significantly different than that of leisure travellers from the US and the EMEA regions. Less than one in five US consumers sought social inspiration for any of these travel activities, and in Europe and South Africa (the only non-European country from the region included in the survey), only about one in seven travellers used social media to get ideas for trips.
When they were ready to actually choose their travel destination, the Text100 survey found that 57% of leisure travelers in Asia-Pacific looked to internet reviews, compared to 38% of US travelers, and 33% of EMEA travelers.
Social media used to choose a travel destination according to leisure travellers worldwide, by region, October 2012 (% of respondents):
- Internet reviews: 57% in Asia-Pacific / 38% in the US / 33% in EMEA
- Online travel forums: 51% / 30% / 28%
- Facebook: 42% / 19% / 15%
China's leisure travellers were far more likely than the average Asia-Pacific consumer to seek out internet reviews on their path to choosing a travel destination; 71% of travelers in China were influenced by online peer reviews. (eMarketer, January 2013)
A sizeable study of leisure trippers in 13 countries around the globe has shed further light on how important social media in two important areas of the travel funnel.
The influence of social media is strong at the points where inspiration for a trip is being sought and at the point where consumers are busily sharing their experiences, but not at the point where money changes - ie. purchasing a flight, hotel, car hire, activity, etc.
The study spoke to 4,600 travellers Australia, China, Denmark, France, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, UK and US who had taken at least one leisure trip in the past 12 months or planned to over the course of the next year.
Headline findings on the social media side of it all:
- Those under the age of 34, 87% use Facebook for travel inspiration.
- Over half also use Twitter, Pinterest and other social media platforms for inspiration.
- Around two-thirds (68%) use their mobile devices to stay in touch with friends and family while on vacation - higher than those taking photos (43%) or checking news sources (20%).
- Over half (52%) post photos and videos during their travels, while 25 percent write reviews.
The company behind the report, Text100, has broken down the report in to a number of key points:
- Recommendations from family/friends came in front as the top influence on the choice of a vacation destination (63%) ahead of web searches (55%).
- Websites with reviews are the most popular, followed by professional travel guides and travel columns.
- Majority of travellers download travel apps before leaving for a trip, with maps being the most popular.
-Positive experiences are most likely to be posted on review sites.
The findings show that armed with recommendations from family and friends, plus some tips from various social media channels, consumers are relying on apparent traditional sources to feed them to the booking: online travel agencies, suppliers (hotel, airline), tour operators, etc.
(See the Text 100 Travel & Tourism Study 2012 Infographics for more details).
(tnooz, November 2012)
TripAdvisor announced the results of an independent study that underscores how essential online traveller reviews have become for hotel bookings. The commissioned report, conducted by PhoCusWright on behalf of TripAdvisor, reveals more than half (53%) of respondents state that they will not book a hotel that does not have any reviews on the site, and 87% of users agree that TripAdvisor hotel reviews "help me feel more confident in my decisions."
Of those polled, 98% of respondents have found TripAdvisor hotel reviews to be accurate of the actual experience, and 95% of users state that they would recommend TripAdvisor hotel reviews to others.
The survey also reveals some interesting findings about why travellers write reviews, how they use them when planning a trip and the impact management responses have on their perceptions of properties. Overall travellers stay positive and mostly ignore extreme comments; and responsive hotels attract more business
The survey debunks a common misconception that travellers primarily write reviews to complain about bad guest experiences. In fact, sharing positive experiences is their main motivation:
- 74% state that they write reviews because they want to share a good experience with other travellers.
- 78% state that they write reviews because they feel good about sharing useful information with other travellers.
- 71% of users state that they like to see basic information (i.e., number of reviews written) about contributors as they browse through reviews.
- 67% of users state that, when available, they look at traveler-submitted photos to help them make hotel choices.
- 59% of users state that when reading reviews, they ignore extreme comments.
- Only 5% of users state that they focus more on negative reviews to check for hotels and avoid potential pitfalls.
The survey finds that travellers expect hotel management to be actively responding to their reviews, and those who do stand to generate more business:
- 57% of users agree that seeing hotel management responses to reviews generally "makes me more likely to book it (versus a comparable hotel that didn't respond to travelers)"
- 84% of users agree that an appropriate management response to a bad review "improves my impression of the hotel"
- 78% of users agree that seeing a hotel management response to reviews "makes me believe that it cares more about its guests"
- 64% of users agree that an aggressive/defensive management response to a bad review "makes me less likely to book that hotel".
(traveldailynews, November 2012)
An Hotel Resort Insider article provides the top trends that have been incorporated in the newest social travel sites:
- Recommendation engines for travel: Majority of the newly launched sites, which emerged in past several years are included in this category. These sites try to recommend you suitable places to go based on the suggestions from your network of Facebook friends. Some of the recognized sites in this category are Gogobot and the lately launched Tripbird.
- Travel friend finders: It seems that Wayn have found the appropriate path for bringing users together for friendship and dating. But they are a little different than the conventional dating sites and they are mainly focused on bringing all users together around places. Tripl has made a new turn to this formula, which explore the users profile deeply and then extends ideas of places for your next trip. These kinds of sites help in creating a culture of globetrotters, who are free to travel from country to country, but still can connect with fellow lonely traveler in each country they visit.
- Local guides and experiences: A host of sites have been launched, which are focused on connecting travelers to different travel guides in local cities. Toursbylocals is a well informed and simple site and Vayable promises you amazing experiences by connecting with locals.
- Special interests networks: A number of sites are popping up everyday in an effort to engage users with specific activities, whether its cruising, expats or group adventures. These sites are working effectively by attracting loyal and engaged audiences and powering them with social tools.
- Communities based around products: A host of sites have emerged, which are bringing suppliers and travelers on the same platform and are engaging the travelers with a product. Here, users come together to share rooms, while they are touring. Users with a room to spare also visit commercial sites, like Airbnb, as they can earn excess cash by renting the room out. Airbnb has truly done a great thing by merging travelers and suppliers in a social environment.
(Hotel & Resort Insider, October 2012)
Traditionally, nations in the Middle East and Africa tend to share less online than other cultures, but in recent years, social networks have been making a significant social and cultural impact. Greater social network usage is especially being seen in those who are younger and well-educated, and mobile phones (already popular among users for accessing social networks) will continue to drive usage. However, despite recent expansion, internet access remains limited in the Middle East and Africa, especially outside of urban centers.
But those who do go online are likely to visit social networks. Earlier this year, eMarketer forecast that the Middle East and Africa region was estimated to have the third-highest social network penetration rate among internet users at 71.2%. Though this number has been revised slightly downward to 70.2% for 2012, because of larger reductions in penetration for Latin America and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa now holds the top spot in social network user penetration among internet users worldwide.
Social network users and penetration in Middles East & Africa, 2010-2014:
- 2010: 83.0 million / 55.9% of internet users / 6.5% of population
- 2011: 111.1 million / 62.8% / 8.5%
- 2012: 146.4 million / 70.2% / 11.0%
- 2013: 180.9 million / 76.6% / 13.3%
- 2014: 209.4 million / 80.2% / 15.1%
eMarketer projects that in 2012, there will be 146.4 million social network users in the region, revised downward from the previous estimate by 2.1 million based on research released during 2012.
Research has also led eMarketer to slightly reduce the region's number of Facebook users for 2012 from 119.7 million to 117.8 million.
Facebook users and penetration in the Middle East & Africa, 2010-2014:
- 2010: 45.9 million / 30.9% of internet users / 3.6% of population
- 2011: 81.7 million / 46.2% / 6.3%
- 2012: 117.8 million / 56.5% / 8.9%
- 2013: 149.3 million / 63.3% / 11.0%
- 2014: 175.7 million / 67.3% / 12.7%
Facebook remains a strong presence in the region's social network market, in part due to mobile carriers that deliver a low-bandwidth version of Facebook to 2G phones. (eMarketer, October 2012)
Social networks and user reviews can have a profound impact on the booking decisions of website visitors looking at anything from leisure or business trips to dinner reservations, according to Monete. Monetate has produced some tips on 4 key social networks use brands can adopt to influence travel and hospitality bookings:
1. Drive website traffic from social networks:
- 1 Facebook fan = 20 additional website visits
- Over 75% of travellers turn to social networks to find some type of shopping-related deal
- 30% of travellers consider information from their social networks to be useful during travel planning.
2. Use ratings and reviews to achieve higher booking rates:
- 70% of Americans say they read reviews before taking the next step toward conversion
- 61% refer to traveller-submitted user reviews
- 52% read reviews from travel professionals
- 32% post reviews of places they've visited after travelling for business.
- About 1 billion restaurant visits are influenced by online marketing.
3. Become part of the conversation: leading business objectives for using social networks:
- Better customer engagement: 78%
- Revenue generation: 51%
- Better customer experience: 47%
4. Ways to increase conversions from social networks:
- Avoid the ‘bait and switch'
- Optimize the user experience
- Maintain message consistency
- Get involved in the conversation.
(tnooz, October 2012)
The website-version of the location check-in service, Foursquare, has allowed users to make what it calls a "one-check reservation" for restaurants since May 2012 via a deal with food booking platform OpenTable. Since September 2012, instant reservations from mobile are now available.
The service is simple: if a user finds a (OpenTable-covered) restaurant in their immediate vicinity when they fire up the app and they fancy making a booking they just tap a button within the app and the table is reserved.
Such a move illustrates where Foursquare might finally be able to find its real worth for travellers, especially in the hotel, tour and activity sectors. In fact, partnerships down the line between Foursquare and any of those sites (or their online travel agency rivals who have seen the opportunity such as Booking.com) seem pretty obvious now. It is the one-click (ish) element to this which works so well for the user. Same goes for the tour and activity space, arguably even more so. Instant reservations or tickets for a museum, gallery, theme park (perhaps avoiding the annoying queue) through a booking platform for tours and activities is a logical next step. (tnooz, October 2012)
Awareness of social network sites is very high, Facebook is close to 100%, Twitter reaches 80% awareness and Google+ is know by 70%, according to findings from InSites Consulting Social Media Around the World 2012 report. On its report, InSites Consulting offers five insights on the status of social media and more than 2,000 facts and figures about social media in 19 countries.
1. The social media landscape is rather stable
2. Mobile is the perfect accelerator for social media usage
3. Consumers connect and interact with a limited set of brands
4. Consumers reach out to brands: we want to help you!
5. Opportunity for brands to optimize conversation potential of consumers
(Insites Consulting, September 2012)
The number of social network users around the world will rise in 2012 to 1.4 billion from 1.18 billion in 2011, according to eMarketer. This near-20% increase is a slight drop from the rise in 2011, and growth rates will continue to moderate as the market matures.
Social network users worldwide, 2010-2014:
- 2010: 965.4 million (+27.3% change)
- 2011: 1,176.2 million (+21.8%)
- 2012: 1,403.2 million (+19.3%)
- 2013: 1,632.6 million (+16.3%)
- 2014: 1,826.4 million (+11.9%)
The fastest growth will come from the emerging markets of the world, especially the Middle East and Africa (where the base of social network users remains small) and Asia-Pacific. Latin America will also grow its user base by 18.5%, slightly below the worldwide average.
Social network user growth worldwide by region in 2012:
WORLDWIDE: + 19.3%
- Middle East & Africa: +31.8%
- Asia-Pacific: +24.8%
- Latin America: +18.5%
- Eastern Europe: +12.0%
- Western Europe: +11.9%
- North America: +6.6%
Growth in Facebook users will follow a similar pattern. eMarketer forecasts that Facebook will have nearly 826 million users around the world in 2012, up from 650.7 million in 2011. The 2012 figure will represent 58.8% of social network users, 36.4% of internet users and just under 12% of the total worldwide population. Penetration among internet users will remain highest in North America, followed closely by the Middle East and Africa and Latin America, which have smaller bases of internet users than countries like the US and Canada, where web access is more widespread.
Facebook user growth will come fastest from Asia-Pacific, where adoption rates in India, Indonesia and Japan far exceed the worldwide average growth of 26.9% this year. The Middle East and Africa and Latin America will also post higher-than-average growth rates. (eMarketer, August 2012)
81% of travellers find user reviews important, while 49% of travellers won't book a property without reviews, according to Olery Infographics about The Naked Truth about Hotel Reviews. 46% of travellers post reviews.
Other findings from this inforgraphics inlcude:
- The more stars a hotel carries, the more likely it is rated higher in reviews.
- 53% of reviews are written by women, but men tend to complain more.
- 22% of smartphone owners read hotel reviews on their mobile.
The top 10 reviews sites by number of reviews:
4. Best China Hotel
(TRAVELTHINK e-News No. 8, July 2012)
Four Pillars Hotels in the UK has compiled infographics (click here) on the impact of social media on the travel industry. It contains some interesting snippets, including some which illustrate the contextual influence of how social media is influencing the search and buying processes, as well as sharing habits:
- In most major cities the search volume on Google for ‘Hotels in [city name]' has lost over 70% in just the last 6 years, instead they use the likes of Kayak, TripAdvisor, and Expedia.
- 38% of US travellers and 64% of non-US travellers use social networks while travelling. Of those, 32% of US and 22% of non-travellers frequently blog about their experiences.
- 85% of leisure travellers user their smartphone while abroad. 30% have used mobile apps to find hotels deals, while 29% have used mobile apps to find flight deals.
- 92% of consumers say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.
- 47% of consumers around the world say they trust paid television, magazine and newspaper ads.
- 70% of global consumers say online consumer reviews are the second most trusted form of advertising.
- 52% of Facebook users said their friends' photos inspired their holiday choice and travel plans.
- Social media has a huge influence on travel bookings. Of those who used social media to research travel plans, only 48% stuck with their original plans: 33% changed their hotel; 7% changed destination; 10% changed resorts; and 5% changed airlines.
- 40% post restaurant reviews.
- Post-vacation, 46% of travellers post hotel reviews.
- 76% post vacation photos to a social network.
- 55% ‘liked' Facebook pages specific to a vacation.
(tnooz, July 2012)
Among the most visited websites around the world, Facebook had roughly 152 million unique US visitors in March 2012, or more than two out of three Americans who were active online visited Facebook. This rate is even less than in other markets, including Brazil, New Zealand and Italy, underscoring Facebook's transcendence of borders around the world - and on the worldwide web.
Since its founding in 2004, the social network has passed many milestones as it skyrocketed from a few million US users to millions more around the world. Looking back at Nielsen data from over the last eight years, here are some of the key moments in Facebook's story:
- In January 2009 Facebook passed Myspace to become the top social network/blog site for the first time, a position it's held in the US ever since.
- Between 2005 and 2009 Facebook doubled its traffic each year in the US, surpassing 10 million uniques for the first time in November 2006 (11.6 million).
- Facebook connected friends around the globe quickly: reaching 10 million unique UK visitors by April 2008. In 2009, the French, Spaniards and Germans followed suit, with 10 million visitors apiece in January, May and November, respectively.
- As recently as August 2011, Facebook overtook Orkut as the top social networking site in Brazil; it has continued to grow its audience since then.
Facebook continues to grow around the world, with consumers in each market finding unique uses for social media sites. While Facebook is the top social network globally, many netizens visit multiple social media sites; in Japan blog sites are more popular in the social media category (Facebook is ranked 5th), and in Brazil sites like Tumblr and Google+ are growing quickly as well. Currently Facebook is the top Social Networking & Blogs site in eleven of the following 12 markets:
Global Visitors to Facebook in March 2012 (from Home/Work computers):
- Brazil: 38,138,000 unique audience (76.7% active reach)
- Italy: 21,270,000 (70.5%)
- Spain: 15,628,000 (67.0%)
- France: 28,335,000 (66.9%)
- United Kingdom: 25,737,000 (63.9%)
- Germany: 24,508,000 (54.6%)
- Japan: 14,877,000 (24.4%)
- Switzerland*: 1,985,000 (50.3%)
- New Zealand**: 2,672,000 (79.8%)
- Taiwan**: 11,068,000 (77.9%)
- United States**: 152,763,000 (69.6%)
- Australia**: 11,010,000 (68.4%)
Read as: 38.1 million Brazilians visited Facebook during March 2012, about 76.7% of those who were active online that month from Home/Work computers in the market.
* Online measurement in Switzerland is from Home computers only.
** New Zealand, Taiwan, the U.S., and Australia use Hybrid measurement, which includes sources in addition to home/work computers.
(nielsenwire, May 2012)
Professor Dimitrios Buhalis, director of eTourism Lab at Bournemouth University and president of IFITT has given 20 steps advices on how to use social media in the tourism industry.
In the last two years the proliferation of social media in tourism has brought a range of new tools and platforms for tourism and hospitality organisations around the world. What looked as innovation for the first six months soon become a commoditised and cliche type of interaction. Social media is becoming a boring me-too, similar to Web 1.0 ten years ago when everybody started to imitate everybody else, essentially killing all sorts of innovation and failing to address the opportunities.
Research and professional practice from around the world needs to better understand and feed into the strategy of businesses so they can take advantage of the fantastic opportunities available to us all - and travellers - through social media. Below are Professor Buhalis's 20 point plan:
1. Engage, engage, engage with the wider communities and stakeholders: employees, customers, local people, special interest groups
2. Consumers centric approach to absolutely everything - this means that:
TIMING - you cannot simply interact in the office hours of the marketing personnel but around the clock.
TOPICS - speak about what users/consumers want to engage with - not just promoting your products.
VALUE - engage with what consumers perceive as value.
3. Human centricity and connections - identify how people connect with people, whether these are employees, customers, tourists. Build the community feel and engage everybody in positive interaction.
4. Address criticisms instantly and fix things in real time, restoring the promised level of services as soon as possible and give alternatives to compensate inconvenience.
5. Harness the collective power and knowledge of the community to share solutions for all.
6. Facilitate co-creation at all levels: Consumers with business; consumers with employees and consumers with consumers.
7. Visual multimedia rules: encourage users to take photos, videos, drawings etc and upload to their social networks.
8. Offer genuine value and reward engagement through special offers, value added services, special experiences, engagement behind the scenes.
9. Challenge all operating practices and "normal" processes to reflect consumer dynamic requirements within the context of "now".
10. Explain operating difficulties and issues and engage consumers in finding creative solutions.
11. Geo-tagged user generated content will demonstrate the real experience and maximise impact.
12. Facilitate interaction by offering FREE WIFI to guests. This is a preconditions for people to generate and share content, especially for travellers that do not want to pay data roaming charges.
13. Look after special markets and their social media, for example RenRen and Weibo in China, Odnoklassniki and Vkontakte in Russia.
14. Fully exploit the potential of Tripadvisor including its Forum and listings.
15. Make guests, customers, and locals brand advocates and ambassadors giving them the opportunity to champion and defend the brand online.
16. Stop being paranoid on Return on Investment ROI in Social Media and focus on value generation and co-creation for all involved.
17. Develop context and location-based services that are integrated with social media. Use QR codes to direct people to deep links with special offers and engagement.
18. Create photo and video opportunities and incentivise sharing.
19. Fully integrate social media with web presence and aim to convert to bookings.
20. In-source and resource social media as the mainstream communication channel. Train most of the work force to contribute and engage in the dialogue, from the CEO/general manager to receptionist and front line employees.
(tnooz, May 2012)
Facebook is getting into the app store game, announcing an initiative called App Center which it claims will help developers get their social web and mobile applications discovered by more people.
The App Center will spotlight free and paid applications that use Facebook's social graph. It will be a part of the Facebook website, but also the company's iOS and Android apps.
Facebook believes that for the over 900 million people that use Facebook, the App Center will become the new, central place to find great apps like Draw Something, Pinterest, Spotify, Battle Pirates, Viddy, and Bubble Witch Saga. Apps will be sorted by category, including games, communications, lifestyle, music, news, photos & videos, sports, travel & local, TV & movies and utilities. Each app gets its own page on the store, which will become the first thing Facebook users see when searching for it - but only if it's deemed good enough.
Success through the App Center is tied to the quality of an app. Facebook use a variety of signals, such as user ratings and engagement, to determine if an app is listed in the App Center. Well-designed apps that people enjoy will be prominently displayed. Apps that receive poor user ratings or don't meet the quality guidelines won't be listed.
Within Facebook's mobile apps, people will be able to browse apps and then install them from Apple's App Store or Google's Play store if they're native, or go straight to them if they are mobile web apps.
The App Center will also see Facebook moving beyond its historic focus on free apps that make money from advertising and/or in-app purchases. To support more types of apps on Facebook.com, Facebook will give developers the option to offer paid apps," explains the company. This is a simple-to-implement payment feature that lets people pay a flat fee to use an app on Facebook.com. (Guardian, May 2012)
100% of travel brands surveyed globally had a facebook brand profile, up from 82% in February 2011, according to findings from a video co-produced by EyeforTravel & Digital Visitor using research data from EyeforTravel's Social Media & Mobile in Travel report that looks at the upcoming trends in Social Media and Mobile and the impact it has had on the travel industry. (View video here)
Other findings show that:
- 75% had a twitter profile, up from 64% in February 2011.
- 71% of travel brands agree to some extent that social media has improved engagement.
- 50% of travel brands surveyed agreed that they have generated direct bookings from social media.
- 20% of respondents globally cited social media as their most successful market format. In Brazil, this figure jumps to 33%.
- 42% of travel brands allocated more of their marketing budget to social media advertising in the third quarter of 2011 than they had in the previous quarter. 61% of travel brands are expecting to increase their investment in social media over the next three months.
- 33% of travel brands allocated more of their marketing budget to managing their presence in social media channels.
- Travel marketers surveyed found that using social media reduced PR costs by 24%.
- Social media is to become more of a key component of search engine results page algorithms.
- 51% of travel brands cited an increase in traffic from facebook in the third quarter of 2011, while 39% cited an increase in traffic from twitter.
(EyeForTravel, March 2012)
There were an estimated 835.5 million Facebook users worldwide at the end of March 2012, according to Internet World Stats. Europe was the region with most Facebook subscribers (233 million), followed by Asia (195 million). In third place was North America (173 million), next are South America, Central America, Africa, the Middle East, Oceania, and the Caribbean. The most important conclusion is that only eight regions show growth. Asia and South America stand out as the regions with the highest growth for Facebook.
Facebook subscribers by regions, 31st March 2012:
WORLD TOTAL: 835,525,280
- Europe: 232,835,740
- Asia: 195,034,380
- North America: 173,284,940
- South America: 112,531,100
- Central America: 41,332,940
- Africa: 40,205,580
- Middle East: 20,247,900
- Oceania / Australia: 13,597,380
- Caribbean: 6,355,320
Internet World Stats have analyzed the number of Facebook subscribers in 210 countries and territories, in three month periods since March 31, 2011 till March 31, 2012. (Internet World Stats, April 2012)
There will be 1.43 billion social network users in 2012, a 19.2% increase over 2011, according to eMarketer "Worldwide Social Network Usage: Market Size and Growth Forecast" report.
In 2012, 63.2% of internet users will visit a social network at least once a month, rising to 67.6% in 2013 and 70.7% in 2014. At those user rates, one out of every five people in the world will use a social network this year, and one in every four will do so in 2014.
Social network user penetration worldwide, 2011-2014 (% of population):
- 2011: 17.3%
- 2012: 20.4%
- 2013: 23.4%
- 2014: 25.8%
Facebook is a leading reason for the growth; it has rapidly expanded in markets such as Brazil, India and Indonesia, gaining new users and poaching from longstanding local favourites like Google's orkut. In 2012, 837.3 million people worldwide will use Facebook, a 27.4% increase from 2011.
Three of the five top social networking markets in 2012 are also among Facebook's largest markets-the US, India and Brazil. But the absence of China and Russia from the list means Facebook still hasn't conquered the world.
Top five Facebook countries, ranked by users, 2012:
1. US: 141.2 million
2. India: 68.1 million
3. Indonesia: 49.1 million
4. Brazil: 45.4 million
5. Mexico: 25.6 million
The US is still by far the leader in Facebook users with 141.2 million in 2012, although that base is growing the slowest among key countries. India will have the second largest Facebook population, with 68.1 million users this year, followed by Indonesia (49.1 million) and Brazil (45.4 million). Mexico will be the fifth largest, with 25.6 million users. (eMarketer, March 2012)
55% of heavy social media advertisers worldwide were planning on increasing their social media ad budgets in 2012, according to a February 2012 white paper from Microsoft Advertising, "Driving Word of Mouth with Social Advertising". A majority of marketers in Brazil and the US saw room for growing social media ad budgets in their countries, at 81% and 64%, respectively, compared to a minority of marketers in countries such as France, the UK and Canada.
Social media marketers in selected countries who plan to increase their social media ad spending, 2011 (% of respondents):
- Brazil: 81%
- US: 64%
- Singapore: 47%
- France: 47%
- UK: 42%
- Canada: 38%
Marketers in Brazil have good reason to expect increases in social ad budgets: eMarketer forecasts social network users in Brazil will reach 75.7 million in 2012, for an internet user penetration rate of 87.6%.
According to the white paper, the No. 1 worldwide goal of social media marketers was increasing word-of-mouth, whether through rebroadcasting ratings and reviews or generating product and brand conversations on blogs or discussion boards. With social networks reaching so many internet users in Brazil, online word-of-mouth's importance is almost a given. (eMarketer, March 2012)
Warholian (contemporary art and culture photographer Michael Cuffe - aka Warholian - and his team) used a donut illustration photo to explain social media in a humoristic way on its Facebook account:
Twitter - I'm eating a donut
Facebook - I like Donuts
Foursquare - This is where I eat donuts
Instagram - Here's a vintage photo of my donut
YouTube - Here I am eating a donut
LinkedIn - My skills include donut eating
Pinterest - Here's a donut recipe
Last FM - Now Listening to "donuts"
G+ - I'm a google employee who eats donuts
(Facebook - Warholian, February 2012)
25% of all Groupon purchases in December 2011 were bought on mobile devices. Groupon's mobile app user base tripled in 2011 compared to 2010. Groupon said it has more than 9 million users of its app, which was launched in March 2010. For comparison, Foursquare (which is a mobile-focused company that debuted its app a year earlier) has 15 million users.
In a press release highlighting year over year growth for mobile usage, Groupon said merchants have gotten on board as well. According to the Chicago-based brand, 12,000 retailers are using its merchant mobile app to record voucher redemptions. At the same time, the lion's share of Groupon's business is still done online. It has well over 115 million email subscribers.
(ClickZ, February 2012)
Social networking is a worldwide phenomenon that eMarketer predicts will encompass nearly 1.5 billion internet users by the end of 2012. As of December 2011, eMarketer estimates, just over 1.2 billion people around the world used social networking sites at least once per month. That represented 23.1% growth over 2010, and double-digit growth will continue throughout eMarketer's forecast period, though the rate of change will decrease as the market matures.
Social network users worldwide, 2011-2014:
- 2011: 1,202.2 million (+23.1% change)
- 2012: 1,433.5 million (+19.2%)
- 2013: 1,662.4 million (+16.0%)
- 2014: 1,854.7 million (+11.6%)
The region with the highest number of social network users is Asia-Pacific, where 615.9 million internet users will log on to social sites by the end of 2012. About half of those users will be in China, where social network users will outnumber their counterparts in the US by nearly two to one.
Social network users worldwide by region, 2011-2014:
- Asia-Pacific: 853.7 million in 2014, up from 493.5 million in 2011
- Latin America: 236.9 million in 2014, up from 164.9 million in 2011
- North America: 189.2 million in 2014, up from 163.9 million in 2011
- Eastern Europe: 192.7 million in 2014, up from 139.0 million in 2011
- Middle East & Africa: 211.6 million in 2014, up from 111.1million in 2011
- Western Europe: 170.8 million in 2014, up from 129.8 million in 2011
WORLDWIDE: 1,854.7 million in 2014, up from 1,202.2 million in 2011
China and the US are the top two countries in terms of overall number of users, but the rankings of key social networking countries around the world change when examined based on penetration rates vs. growth rates. In 2012, the US will have the greatest share of social network users as a percentage of the total population (49.9%), followed by Canada (49.3%), South Korea (46.6%), Australia (44.4%) and Russia (41.9%). As a share of internet users in 2012, however, Brazil will come out on top (87.6% of web users in the country will use social networking sites) followed closely by Indonesia at 87.5%. In developing markets like these, fewer people overall are online, but among those who are on the web, social networking is often a key driver of internet usage.
Social network users worldwide by country, 2011-2014:
- China: 414.5 million in 2014, up from 256.5 million in 2011
- US: 170.7 million in 2014, up from 147.8 million in 2011
- India: 129.3 million in 2014, up from 50.2 million in 2011
- Brazil: 90.7 million in 2014, up from 66.2 million in 2011
- Indonesia: 79.2 million in 2014, up from 34.4 million in 2011
- Russia: 69.3 million in 2014, up from 52.1 million in 2011
- Japan: 50.7 million in 2014, up from 39.5 million in 2011
- Mexico: 37.2 million in 2014, up from 23.7 million in 2011
- Germany: 34.7 million in 2014, up from 25.7 million in 2011
- UK: 29.4 million in 2014, up from 23.9 million in 2011
- South Korea: 25.9 million in 2014, up from 20.7 million in 2011
- France: 25.0 million in 2014, up from 19.9 million in 2011
- Italy: 21.3 million in 2014, up from 15.8 million in 2011
- Spain: 21.2 million in 2014, up from 15.5 million in 2011
- Canada: 18.5 million in 2014, up from 16.1 million in 2011
- Argentina: 17.9 million in 2014, up from 14.1 million in 2011
- Australia: 11.6 million in 2014, up from 8.8 million in 2011
The fastest growth in social networking this year, meanwhile, will come from India (where usage will increase by 51.7%), Indonesia (51.6%) and, lagging distantly, China (19.9%). Much of this growth is due to the ever-climbing popularity of Facebook-though notably not in China, where the site is banned. eMarketer estimates the social networking giant will pass the billion-user mark by the end of 2013.
Facebook users worldwide, 2011-2014:
- 2011: 657.1 million (+44.0% change)
- 2012: 837.3 million (+27.4%)
- 2013: 1,003.6 million (+19.9%)
- 2014: 1,143.1 million (+13.9%)
(eMarketer, February 2012)
Hoteliers in the US and Middle Eastern cities take the lead in social-media adoption, according to a study from eHotelCheck.com. For the second year in a row, San Francisco topped the ranking while hotels in Dubai surged to the second spot, up nine places compared with last year. Selected major destinations were ranked based on their ‘Tripadvisor Top 10' listed hotels' adoption of and the internet users' response to the main social-media tools.
The results of eHotelCheck's 2011 global scan show that over the last year many more hoteliers from around the world turned to social media to attract and retain customers, and started using tools, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tripadvisor - the main global social media tools used in the tourism industry, to interact with internet users - their (prospective) guests.
The hotels in Europe may lag behind their US and Middle Eastern counterparts, however, measured by the number of online reviews on Tripadvisor, their guests are active contributors within the virtual community. Especially London, Paris, and Rome have active online guests, but their most appreciated hotels make only limited use of social media.
Other findings show that Facebook has seen a huge increase over the last year, with an astonishing 84% increase in its adoption by hotels and more than a tripling of the number of Likes by its users. Currently still only 59% of the hotels included in the study have a Facebook account.
Compared to Facebook and Tripadvisor, Twitter shows lower and slower adoption by hotels as well as internet users. The share of hotels with a Twitter account increased by 46%. Over the period of one year, the top 10 hotels in the selected 33 destinations as ranked on Tripadvisor increased their online audience by 172.000 Followers, currently averaging 3.500 Followers per account. At the moment, it is the hotels in Las Vegas that are setting the bar in Twitter adoption. (TravelDailyNews, February 2012)
comScore has examined the current state of social networking among online users around the world in a report on the global state of social networking, entitled "It's a Social World: Top 10 Need-to-Knows About Social Networking and Where It's Headed".
Here are three of comScore's key findings:
- Social Networking is the most popular online activity worldwide: in October 2011, 1.2 billion users around the world visited social networking sites, accounting for 82% of the world's population. Nearly 1 in every 5 minutes spent online around the world is now spent on social networking sites, making Social Networking the most popular content category in engagement worldwide.
- Microblogging has emerged as a disruptive new force in social networking: microblogging, a way of communicating through short-form content, has emerged as a leading social networking platform over the past few years, led by Twitter. In October 2011, Twitter reached 1 in 10 worldwide internet users, reflecting its emergence as a leading global social network. Other microblogging platforms on the rise are Tumblr and Sina Weibo.
- Mobile devices are fuelling the social addiction: as mobile devices provide users with the means to connect on-the-go and interact in real-time, they show promise in taking social networking even further. Nearly one third of the US mobile population age 13 and older accessed social networking sites at least once in October 2011. Across five leading markets in Europe, nearly a quarter of the mobile population reported doing so as well. With smartphones driving even more frequent social networking use through apps and the emergence of tablets, we expect mobile social networking to be the wave of the future.
(comScore, January 2012)
Facebook is the social web leader in number of users and at year-end 2011 registered the impressive number of 799 million subscribers worldwide, according to Internet World Stats.
Europe has the largest number of Facebook subscribers in the world, 223 million, and a penetration rate of 27.4 %. Northern America has the largest Facebook Penetration Rate, 50.3 %, indicating that one out of every two persons in America has a Facebook account.
Facebook users in the world by geographic regions, Q4 2011:
- Europe: 223.4 million (27.4% penetration rate)
- Asia: 183.9 million (4.7%)
- North America: 174.6 million (50.3%)
- South America: 103.3 million
- Central America / Mexico: 38.3 million
- Africa: 37.7 million (3.6%)
- Middle East: 18.2 million (8.4%)
- Oceania / Australia: 13.3 million (37.7%)
- Caribbean: 6.2 million (15.0%)
(Internet World Stats, December 2011)
34% of American and Canadian consumers say they would never purchase products via a retailer's Facebook page, compared to 19% who said they would (9%) or already have (10%) done so, according to an Oracle study released in December 2011.
Data from "Cross-Channel Commerce 2011: The Consumer View" indicates that 15% of respondents did not know that they could purchase a product via a retailer's Facebook page. The remaining 32% of respondents do not use the social network.
23% of respondents say they have liked a merchant on Facebook, with women (30%) more ready to do so than men (17%). Roughly one-quarter say they look for coupons and special promotions on the social network.
23% of respondents reported using Twitter, although less than half say they interact with a merchant on the site. For consumers that use Twitter, 44% of those aged 25-34 say they interact with friends about products they plan to buy, followed by 30% of users aged 35-44. According to data collected by Compete in April and May 2011, a combined two-thirds of Twitter users say retailer feeds on the social network have influenced their decision to purchase products or buy from certain retailers.
Oracle's online study polled 2,169 US and Canada consumers aged 18 years or older. (MarketingCharts, December 2011)
In large emerging markets, including Mexico and Indonesia, social network penetration ranged from 56% to 86% of internet users, according to Pew Research Center's "Global Digital Communication: Texting, Social Networking Popular Worldwide".
In some markets, especially those with relatively low overall internet penetration, that put social network usage higher than the US's 60% of internet users. Unlike in developed markets, where growth in social network usage has plateaued, emerging markets are experiencing double-digit increases. Social network penetration was highest in Indonesia and Russia, at 86% for each in May 2011, up from 63% and 76%, respectively, in 2010.
Social network users in selected countries, May 2011:
- Indonesia: 86% of internet users
- Russia: 86%
- India: 72%
- US: 60%
- Mexico: 59%
- China: 56%
While not included in the Pew study, social networking may be even more common in Brazil. A study by local ad agency F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi found that penetration reached 93% of internet users in August 2011.
Aside from zeroing in on a large number of internet users, social media marketing is also more effective in emerging markets than more established ones. The TNS "Digital Life 2011" study found that users in BRIC, Indonesia and Mexico were more likely to view social networks as a good place to learn about and buy brands and products than users in developed markets like Canada, the UK and the US.
In developed markets, users are accustomed to third-party ecommerce sites and payment methods and mainly look to social networks for keeping up with friends. In emerging markets, ecommerce is untested and new; knowing the person or brand, even virtually, can engender more trust among users.
Social media marketing is important in the US and other developed markets, but higher levels of trust in emerging markets suggest that social networks can play a bigger role in the purchase cycle there. (eMarketer, January 2012)
Social networking accounted for nearly one in every five minutes spent online globally in October 2011, ranking as the most engaging online activity worldwide, according to a study. According to comScore's recently released report, It's a Social World: Top 10 Need-to-Knows About Social Networking and Where It's Headed, social networking sites now reach 82% of the world's internet population age 15 and older that accessed the internet from a home or work computer, representing 1.2 billion users around the globe.
In October, Facebook reached more than half (55%) of the world's global audience and accounted for one in every seven minutes spent online around the world and three in every four social networking minutes. In the US, 64% of smartphone users accessed social networking sites at least once in October 2011, with two in five smartphone owners connecting via social networking nearly every day. In the EU5, 45% of smartphone owners accessed social networks on their mobile device during the month, with nearly one in four doing so on a near daily basis.
A lot of brands started to invest in social media, sometimes heavily, but recent studies showed that an overwhelming majority of consumers don't want to have their social media space invaded by brands. A recent global study indicated that brands must harness digital more carefully if they are to use it to their advantage and deepen relationships with customers and prospects. It added that businesses are wasting time and money trying to reach people online without realising many resent big brands invading their social networks. (eyefortravel, January 2012)
In an interview with EyeforTravel in 2011, Gurmej Bahia, director of Customer Marketing at Expedia, recommended do' and don'ts when it comes to working on a Facebook App:
1. Treat your Facebook App as a unique channel, focus on the user experience and look at what will add value to your users.
2. Leverage the technology and the specific strengths of the platform don't fall into the trap of replicating something that already exists on the website
3. Look beyond your sector for inspiration and take the learning where appropriate (Fast fashion brands have a well established social presence and are often leading the way).
4. Iterate and test new functionality. Facebook is constantly evolving so you should adopt an agile approach to enable quick testing and development.
5. Dedicate a permanent resource to the project to safeguard the user experience and develop future functionality.
6. Think about promotional marketing activity to drive uptake of the app. Seeding with bloggers, including it in your ATL marketing activity and developing acquisition initiatives are imperative to spread the word and gain users.
1. Don't create a vanity App, think about your objectives before jumping into App development.
2. Don't launch your app and leave it for a year before reviewing the functionality. Functionality can change quickly within FB so be prepared to evolve your app over time.
(eyefortravel, January 2012)
Social media, content, mobile and apps, and natural search engine optimisation will be the top four areas for travel organisations to increase spending in 2012, according to a global survey by Frommer's® Unlimited, the business-to-business division of Frommer's®.
The report found that more than 83% plan to increase overall digital marketing spend in 2012. The survey of 350 travel organisations was undertaken with global digital travel news service Tnooz and respondents included airlines, agents, tour operators and consolidators, hoteliers, tourist boards, car rental, rail, travel insurance, publishing and cruise companies.
78% of those surveyed said they planned to increase digital marketing budgets for the year ahead and 19% said budgets would remain the same. Only 3% said they were decreasing marketing spend in 2012.
Two thirds of businesses surveyed said they would invest more money in social media next year and more than half said they would also be increasing spend on content (55%), mobile and apps (54%) and natural search engine optimization (52%).
Three quarters of those surveyed say they are maintaining and increasing translation budgets for 2012. Half of the travel organisations surveyed currently operate a site in one language, a third operate sites in up to five languages and a fifth have sites in more than 5 languages. For 2012 that will increase - 26% said they plan to have up to 5 language sites and 17% plan to have more than 5 language sites.
Giles Longhurst, Frommer's Unlimited Director Europe, Middle East and Africa indicated that their fourth annual survey shows a clear trend of sustained investment in content in many different platforms, and global players looking to create engagement as well as customer acquisition. (Travelmole, November 2011)
A new study based on a survey of 5,000 consumers in the US, UK, France, and Germany found social media to be one of the least effective engagement techniques for encouraging customer loyalty for larger and small businesses alike, according to a study from Pitney Bowes.
The survey found that just 18% of the respondents believed that interaction with a larger company or its brands on social media would encourage them to buy from that business again. The social media approach was deemed even less effective for smaller businesses, where just 15% of those responding said it would encourage their loyalty to a company. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, November 2011)
Over 1 billion people in the world use social networks in the second quarter of 2011, according to the results of Insites Consutling "Social Media around the World 2011" global study about the usage of social media around the globe, with 9,000 repsondents in 35 countries. This represents more than 70% of the internet population worldwide. More than 600 million people use social networks at least daily.
Awareness and usage of social networks is high. In Europe, 98% know at least one social network and 73% are member of at least one network. Social networkers are member of 1.9 networks on average. Western Europe lags behind the rest of Europe in terms of social network penetration.
Awareness, penetration, average number of networks in Europe:
- Europe: Awareness of at least one network (98%) / Member of at least one network (73%) / Average number of networks one is member of: 1.9
- Easter Europe: 99% / 79% / 1.9
- Southern Europe: 99% / 77% / 2.2
- Northern Europe: 98% / 75% / 1.5
- Western Europe: 97% / 66% / 1.8
Emerging markets like China, India, and Brazil have a higher social network penetration than Western Europe. Membership penetration, average number of networks and daily usage are higher in these countries. In Brazil, 86% are member of at least one network, Brazilian social networkers are member of 3.1 networks on average and 66% log in on a daily basis. Figures for India are comparable or even higher.
Awareness, penetration, average number of networks worldwide by region, countries:
- Europe: Awareness of at least one network (98%) / Member of at least one network (73%) / Average number of networks one is member of: 1.9
- Brazil: 97% / 86% / 3.1
- India: 98% / 88% / 3.9
- US: 95% / 76% / 2.1
- Australia: 96% / 67% / 1.5
- Japan: 86% /34% / 1.8
- China: 75% / 44% / 3.4
The study found that awareness of Facebook is close to 100%, with more than 400 million people using Facebook daily. Average Facebook session lasts 37 minutes. There is a big Twitter paradox: while 80% is aware of Twitter, only 16% is using it. Average Twitter session lasts 23 minutes. Vkontakte is big in Eastern Europe, with 55% awareness and 39% penetration.
The Study has shown that it will be difficult for new social networks to succeed; with 60% of social networkers who do not want any new social networks and 93% that are happy with what they have and won't increase or decrease their use. InSites believes that big social networks will get bigger and small ones will get smaller.
The Study also found that:
- People connect online with their offline friends and that people love to connect to people.
- More than half of social network users are connected to brands.
- Offline brand experiences are the main online conversation starters.
- Positive experiences are bigger conversation starters than negative experiences. People like positive stuff.
- People become a fan on Facebook because they like the product, not because of advertising.
- 36% posted content about a brand on social networks.
- 38% of internet users has a smartphone. They are more intensive users of social networks than people without a smartphone. Most used apps are social network apps.
(InSites Consulting - four words newsletter, October 2011)
Social media is having a major impact on all parts of the travel life cycle. For example, feedback is instantaneous, causing airlines to respond to customers where and when an incident occurs. 65% of respondents worldwide to a JD Power research use social media for travel-related purposes, according to an Amadeus Report entitled "The always-connected traveller: How mobile will transform the future of air travel".
Use of social media for travel-related purposes by countries:
TOTAL: 65% of respondents using social media travel-related sites
- China: 92%
- Hong Kong: 85%
- India: 71%
- Japan: 42%
- Singapore: 81%
- France: 46%
- Germany: 60%
- Italy: 59%
- Spain: 71%
- Sweden: 53%
- UK: 77%
- Argentina: 72%
- Brazil: 69%
- Chile: 78%
- Mexico: 78%
- Egypt: 59%
- Saudi Arabia: 53%
- UAE: 54%
- Canada: 66%
- US: 59%
(Amadeus, June 2011)
The number of Facebook users in the US will increase 13.4% in 2011, according to eMarketer estimates, after 38.6% growth in 2010 and a whopping 90.3% rise the year before. The rate of adult Twitter user adoption has similarly begun to plateau, dropping from 293.1% growth in 2009 to 26.3% this year and still slowing. In many developing countries, these and other networks are seeing their audience growth taper off as most new users come from other countries such as the BRIC nations and Indonesia.
Meanwhile, users in more advanced countries have been shifting their behaviours after spending years on the sites. According to the GlobalWebIndex "Wave 5 Trends" report, social network usage growth has all but stopped among 16- to 24-year-olds in the US, and in a few countries usage within this already-saturated group is actually declining.
Among those who remain on Facebook, GlobalWebIndex reports, there were declines in participation in activities like messaging with friends, sending digital gifts, installing applications and joining groups between July 2009 and June 2011. The activities on the wane are decreasing faster in the US than worldwide, and are often decreasing even further among college-educated US users under the age of 30.
Meanwhile, on microblogs like Twitter, the heaviest users are focused on disseminating content. Links to other microblogs, personal photos, and links to videos and news stories were the top subjects of status updates on these real-time oriented social sites among frequent users. Other than personal photos, these all relate to content created by others, while most content creation activities scored lower.
The report also noted the high demand for professional content. Traditional sources of news were dominant, including among microbloggers and heavy social network users. And when asked what they want from brands, consumers ask for knowledge and, among younger adults, entertainment. Brands have an opportunity to use the transmission-oriented social media landscape to disseminate valuable content to followers-who in turn are hungry for interesting and entertaining content to transmit. (eMarketer, August 2011)
There were over 710 million Facebook subscribers worldwide in June 2011, according to Internet World Stats. Thier Facebook Penetration Rate, the index or ratio, expressed in percent, relates the number of Facebook subscribers to the total population of the region or country, indicating that one out of every ten persons in the world has a Facebook account (10.3%).
Facebook subscribers worldwide by regions, June 2011:
WORLD TOTAL: 710,728,720 (10.3%)
- Asia: 152,957,480 (3.9% Facebook penetration)
- Africa: 30,665,460 (3.0%)
- Europe: 208,907,040 (25.6%)
- Latin America: 115,288,940 (20.7%)
- North America: 167,999,540 (48.4%)
- Middle East: 16,125,180 (7.5%)
- The Caribbean: 5,903,520 (14.3%)
- Oceania / Australia: 12,881,560 (36.4%)
(Internet World Stats, July 2011)
Facebook has announced a new video calling feature which will be powered by Skype.
For Skype, the attraction of partnering with Facebook is that their video calls will start being used by some of the less affluent but prolific internet users. Facebook on the other hand will get to tap into the multi-ethnic audiences that Skype already attracts.
The integration of video calling into Facebook should help the social network extend its dominance in the market. (Experian Hitwise, July 2011)
Erik Qualman has launched in June 2011 its latest update of its "Social Media Revolution" video series. Key findings include:
- Facebook tops Google for weekly traffic in the US
- If Facebook were a country it would be the world's 3rd largest
- 50% of the mobile internet traffic in the UK is for Facebook
- YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world
- A new member joins LinkedIn every second
- Generation Y and Z consider e-mail passé
- eReaders have surpassed traditional book sales
- GROUPON will reach $1 billion in sales faster than any company in history
- 34% of bloggers post opinions about products & brands
- 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations; only 14% trust advertisements
- 93% of marketers use social media for business
(Socialnomics, June 2011)
Simon Jones, director of marketing at Digital Visitor shared the social media trends to watch in 2012:
1. Social media as a customer service tool: Social media allows businesses to quickly and economically communicate to a large audience and in 2012, we will see more and more organisations using it as a customer service tool.
2. More companies using social media sites for competitions: While there have already been some great examples of companies using social media sites such as Facebook to run competitions, we will see more companies launch exciting and creative competitions via social media to make them really stand out from their competitors.
3. Social media will more prominently affect search engine results: In addition to crawling traditional content of a company's website and blogs for relevant keywords, search engines will also pull results from social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Therefore, as we search online, we will start to see more real-time information in our results from Facebook, Twitter, blogs and user generated reviews.
4. More companies will include user reviews and ratings on their websites: There are flurries of statistics across all industries that prove why online reviews are important for businesses today, particularly how they impact purchasing decisions, so we will start to see more businesses gathering user reviews and ratings on their websites.
5. Social media and relevance: Social media has become everything to everyone, and as more and more people and brands engage via the ever growing number of social media sites, the question of how to match up relevant information with the right people will become vital for businesses to succeed.
With over 98,000 tweets per minute, 695,000 Facebook status updates per minute, 79, 364 Facebook wall posts per minute and 600 new YouTube videos uploaded per minute (and this is just the tip of the iceberg), it is important to provide people with the information that you know they are interested in or they will quickly be ‘turned off'.
6. Greater impact for social media in B2B sector: Traditionally, B2C marketers have been the first to realise the benefits of social media marketing and while it has in the past year been on the rise among B2B brands, the impact and benefits of social media marketing for this sector will become more valid in 2012.
(EyeForTravel, July 2011)
Google has launched a new social networking website in its latest attempt to take on Facebook, which now claims more than 500 million users. Google+ allows individuals to share photos, messages and comments but also integrates the company's maps and images into the service. It also aims to help users easily organise contacts within groups.
But some analysts say Google has simply reproduced features of Facebook while adding a video chat function. Google, which handles roughly two out of every three internet searches in the US, has taken several stabs at Facebook in recent years. But its previous efforts ended in failure, with both Google Wave and Google Buzz proving unpopular with users.
The company is now boasting that four features in Google+ could help make the company a permanent player in social networking:
- Circles - a functionality that allows individuals to place friends into groups, allowing users to share different forms of content with targeted clusters of friends
- Hangouts - live multi-user video conferencing that permits friends to drop in and out of live group conversations
- Huddle - group instant messaging
- Sparks - a feature that connects individuals on the network to others with common interests.
The current version of Google+ has only been released to a small number of users, but the company has said it soon hopes to make the social network available to the millions of individuals that use its services each day. (BBC News - Technology, June 2011)
Facebook has continued to grow during the first quarter of 2011, showing an increase of approximately 79 million users, going from 585 to over 664 million subscribers worldwide, according to Internet World Stats.
Regarding demographics, nearly 30% of the new Facebook registrations are from users in the 18-24 age group. This age group remains the largest with 210 million registered Facebook users. The next in size is the 25-34 age group with approximately 20 million new subscribers, for a total of 174 million registered Facebook users. The third group, both in growth and in size, is the 35-44 age group with an increase of nearly 11 million new subscribers, for a total of 90 million Facebook users.
In summary, 72 % of all Facebook users, 475 million approximately, are in the age group between 18 and 44 years of age. Facebook continues to grow and attracts new users every day in over 213 countries and regions of the world. Almost one out of every ten persons in the world has a Facebook account. (Internet World Stats Newsletter - Number 064 - May 30, 2011, May 2011)
Twitter users (especially ones with more followers and thus, presumably, more experience) tend to ask questions with tweets directed at all followers rather than using @ replies or direct messages, according to May 2011 research from InboxQ, a service to feed businesses questions from Twitter.
This means questions are often not directed at a relevant brand, but many users want brands to answer them anyway.
Eight in 10 Twitter users surveyed worldwide said they thought the answers businesses posted on Twitter were at least as trustworthy as those from regular people, and about six in ten said they wanted businesses to respond to them on the microblogging service.
Twitter users worldwide who would like to receive answers from businesses to their questions on Twitter, by number of followers, May 2011 (% of respondents):
- <100: 57%
- 100+: 59%
Yet just 21% of Twitter users with under 100 followers and 41% of users with over 100 followers said they had actually received a response from a business via Twitter.
Users indicated that more responsive brands would benefit from greater loyalty and purchasing. Almost 60% of respondents said they would be more likely to follow a brand that answered them, and 64% said they would be more likely to make a purchase from that brand. (eMarketer, June 2011)
While the main reason to bring a mobile phone on trips remains making calls, 38% have used their mobile devices to plan a trip and 60% of respondents said they have downloaded travel apps on their mobile devices, according to a TripAdvisor survey.
Smartphone adoption around the world is skyrocketing, and is fundamentally changing the way people get travel advice, according to Mike Putnam, director of mobile product for TripAdvisor. Whether it is finding the perfect museum or restaurant, booking a hotel or a flight, or sharing advice, it is clear that travellers around the world now rely on their smartphones and other mobile devices to plan and have better trips.
When asked what parts of the travel planning process they conduct on their mobile devices, the TripAdvisor survey found:
- 52% researched restaurants
- 46% read about destinations
- 45% read traveller reviews
- 42% booked or researched accommodations
- 34% booked or researched flights.
While travelling, 62% of travellers said they use their mobile devices to research restaurants. 51% check their flight status and 46% research attractions. 28% have checked in to a restaurant, hotel or attraction using their mobile device while on a trip, according to TripAdvisor. (travelmole, May 2011)
The number of people using Facebook has dropped in the UK for the second month in a row, mirroring similar falls in the US, Canada and Norway, giving the first signs that the social network's popularity may be waning in the west, according to data from the tracking company Inside Facebook, which uses Facebook's own advertising tools to determine the number of people using the site every month.
The drop in use was most marked in the US, where numbers fell from May's 155.2 million, just under half the 239 million people online, to 149.4 million at the start of June. It marked the first time in a year that the number of people logging into the site over a month had fallen. In the UK, the fall was smaller at around 100,000 users to 29.8 million, or 58% of the 51.4 million people online. Canada saw a fall of 1.62 million to 16.6 million, while Norway also saw a fall of around 100,000 users over the month.
The website continued to grow worldwide, hitting an all-time high of 687 million users, according to Inside Facebook. Growth slowed however, having risen by 13.9 million accounts in April and then just 11.8 million in May. Typically in the past year it has grown by 20 million a month. That slowdown could thwart founder Mark Zuckerberg's ambition to reach 1 billion users worldwide, despite his prediction last June that "it is almost a guarantee that it will happen". The fastest-growing countries, including Brazil and Mexico, grew at a maximum of 10% over the month. Facebook still dominates the world in terms of social network use, with Russia and China marking the biggest holdouts where home-grown networks are the most popular.
Growth in Facebook use seems to peak in any country once the site is used by roughly half of those who have internet connections - though with more than 2 billion people online worldwide, the site could still reach the 1 billion figure. However, it would need people who have joined the site to stay with it - and that hasn't been happening in some countries. The fall in users is most marked in those developed countries where Facebook first launched to the public in September 2006, after its first two years when it catered only to US college and high school users.
Magnus Hoglund, chief executive of the law media portal Law360.com, who has worked on digital media companies for the past decade has said that from his experience, he gets the sense that being on Facebook is not cool anymore. The early adopters and trend setters are moving away. But these are also exactly the type of people brand advertisers want to reach; if they are leaving, it doesn't look good for Facebook. The site has been criticised in the west for its approach to users' privacy, with repeated protests about the way in which controls on data access are relaxed. In Early June, the revelation that it had extended an automatic facial recognition system for tagging photos beyond the US without asking people if they wanted to opt in drew criticism from privacy groups and security consultants.
A spokeswoman for Facebook has said that they are very pleased with their growth and with the way people are engaged with Facebook. More than 50% of their active users log on to Facebook in any given day. (Article on The Guardian, June 2011)
The Netherlands has an exceptionally high representation among social networking sites Twitter.com and Linkedin.com, ranking #1 among all countries in internet penetration for these sites, according to comScore. In each case, more than one in four Dutch internet users visits these sites during the course of the month. While the top ten countries in LinkedIn penetration are either English-speaking or in Western Europe, the top countries for Twitter touch virtually every corner of the globe.
Top 10 countries in internet penetration for LinkedIn by reach (%), March 2011 - Total internet, Age 15+, Home & Work Locations:
1. Netherlands: 26.1%
2. Ireland: 21.0%
3. US: 17.6%
4. Canada: 15.6%
5. UK: 14.9%
6. Denmark: 14.4%
7. Australia: 13.1%
8. New Zealand: 12.9%
9. Belgium: 12.6%
10. Singapore: 12.0%
Top 10 countries in internet penetration for Twitter by reach (%), March 2011 - Total internet, Age 15+, Home & Work Locations:
1. Netherlands: 26.8%
2. Japan: 26.6%
3. Brazil: 23.7%
4. Indonesia: 22.0%
5. Venezuela: 21.0%
6. Canada: 18.0%
7. Argentina: 18.0%
8. Turkey: 16.6%
9. Philippines: 16.1%
10. Singapore: 16.0%
(comScore, April 2011)
Some of the world's most avid social network users live in Indonesia, where more than half of the country's online population participates on social networking sites, according to the Boston Consulting Group. Like in a number of emerging markets where most of the population earn low incomes, users in Indonesia tend to connect to networks via mobile devices rather than PCs.
Facebook has 35.2 million members in Indonesia, making it the second-largest market for the network, according to CheckFacebook.com. Web users of all ages, ranging from teenagers to those over 50, are using Facebook to stay connected and updated with friends.
Top ten countries, ranked by number of Facebook members, April 1, 2011:
1. US: 152.2 million
2. Indonesia: 35.2 million
3. UK: 28.9 million
4. Turkey: 26.4 million
5. Philippines: 22.7
6. India: 22.1 million
7. Mexico: 21.9 million
8. France: 21.0 million
9. Italy: 18.4 million
10. Canada: 17.4 million
Using Facebook primarily via mobile means a different mix of social networking activities for users and marketers alike. Social networkers take advantage of Facebook Chat as a free alternative to SMS and voice calls, for example. And marketers that, in the US, may have relied on Facebook display advertising, do so less frequently in Indonesia because banners do not appear on social networks accessed through mobile devices.
Further, ecommerce is challenging because few people in Indonesia have credit cards and bank accounts. But marketers are finding ways to bypass a card-based payment system. Mobile social networking application provider Mig33, for example, has developed a virtual economy in which 4,000 merchants in 150 countries (Indonesia being its largest market) sell prepaid cards whose credits can be used to exchange virtual gifts, play online games and create avatar communities.
Taking advantage of the nation's highly mobile population, location-based services such as Indonesia-based Yahoo!Koprol, with 1.5 million users, and foursquare are growing fast. Yahoo!Koprol has strong ties with prominent regional brands such as Black Canyon Coffee, cinema operator Blitzmegaplez and Celebrity Fitness. It also recently launched Koprol for Business to help small- and medium-sized businesses incorporate location-based social networking as part of their marketing strategy.
These examples indicate marketers are finding ways to reach online consumers in countries where mobile is the screen of choice and credit card access is limited. Targeting consumers through location-based social networks and offering a virtual currency system rather than online advertising are two techniques helping marketers achieve their goals. (eMarketer, May 2011)
While Facebook provides a highly effective advertising platform, commerce on the social network might not take off, according to a report by Forrester Research. According to the report, email has better customer acquisition rates than social networking.
Some of the highlights of the report:
- There are retailers (albeit small ones) seeing a double-digit percent of their sales coming through their Facebook stores. These companies often have unique demographics or marketing models (e.g., flash sales) that drive this behaviour.
- Facebook's "data layer" is probably one of the most underleveraged assets that exists with respect to F-commerce. There is myriad information about fans, what products consumers are liking, and competitive insights that can be gleaned from merchant and consumer activity on and off Facebook.
- Facebook credits is a non-starter for most retailers. This is the "currency" that consumers can use to buy, say, potatoes on Farmville. Facebook, however, has little to no credibility with respect to financial services among consumers, and the same retailers reluctant to implement PayPal (which so many large merchants are) will be 10 times more resistant to a less-tried, less-reliable, newer payment mark.
(HOTELMARKETING.COM, April 2011)
Facebook had 664 million subscribers worldwide as of March 31, 2011, according to Internet World Stats. This means that a third of all the internet universe is a Facebook user or subscriber.
Facebook World Statistics - March 31, 2011: subscribers by world regions:
- Europe: 200,260,360 (24.5% of population in the region / 30.2% of Facebook users)
- North America: 173,640,240 (50.0% / 26.1%)
- Asia: 131,556,800 (3.4%/19.8%)
- Latin America: 97,685,000 (17.6% / 14.7%)
- Africa: 27,414,240 (2.6% / 4.1%)
- Middle East: 15,779,440 (7.3% / 2.4%)
- Oceania, Australia: 12,333,780 (34.8% / 1.9%)
- Caribbean: 5,362,600 (12.9% / 0.8%)
- TOTAL: 664,032,460 (9.6%)
(Internet World Stats, April 2011)
LivingSocial has hired Doug Miller (formerly at Expedia) illustrating the company growth ambition in the travel industry. Consumers don't always have an easy time finding a "near-cation" options, because the travel industry's not set up to market well to locals. That's the void that LivingSocial hopes to fill.
The company sends members a weekly email that touts several hotel deals. The deals are available for purchase only for seven days, and the time frame for use varies but generally lasts one year. Once you make your purchase, it's up to you to call and set up your trip, which gives the hotel a chance to try to sell you on an extra night or two since many people like to escape for more than one night.
To promote sharing, LivingSocial Escapes promises you a free escape if you share a deal with friends and three of them buy it. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, March 2011)
Facebook is fast becoming more than a customer relationship tool for many independent properties and chains. Many hotels now offer room-booking technology on their Facebook pages, which is leading to incremental sales.
Douglas Quinby, senior director of research for PhoCusWright indicates that over the course of 2009, they saw the volume of direct referrals from Facebook to hotel websites grow. The conversion rate was higher for Facebook than it was for TripAdvisor and other travel review sites.
The conversion rate on direct referrals from traveler review sites to hotel supplier websites ranged from 4% to 6% in 2009, while conversion from Facebook to hotel websites was 8%. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, March 2011)
In an email to Twitter users, "Get the most out of Twitter in 2011," the company mentioned at the bottom that there are "about 200 million accounts on Twitter now." This is an increase from the previously reported figure of 175 million and now puts Twitter at approximately a third of Facebook's user base.
What's interesting is that the theme of the email involves "coming back" to Twitter, which implies that a large portion of the newly announced 200 million users isn't terribly active. The email suggests ways to use Twitter and reasons to come back into the fold, including the fact that "people turn to Twitter during emergencies." This indicates:
(a) that there's some value in using recent unrest in Egypt as a way to stimulate more end-user activity and
(b) that the company generally needs to reengage a significant part of its user base.
(Social Times, February 2011)
Sharing holiday snaps through Facebook, the social network with over 500 million users worldwide, is not only helping people stay connected in the virtual world, but also influencing people's travels in the real world, according to a poll by Skyscanner.com.
Skyscanner.com found that the ‘power of pictures' has a very strong influence on Facebookers' travel plans, with more than half (52%) stating that seeing friends' holiday pictures had inspired them to book a holiday to the same place.
Despite the well-worn joke surrounding the boredom of being subjected to other people's holiday snaps, a whopping 88% of respondents loved to nose through their friends' shots with half of those admitting to doing so because "they could see what they had got up to and with whom!"
Forty-five percent of respondents also said that Facebook encourages them to visit their friends abroad more and despite some recent reports that have claimed Facebook reduces real life contact, only 5% of people said that being on Facebook actually meant they were less likely to see their friends in person.
The Skyscanner survey also revealed that Facebook plays an increasing part in the organization of group travel with 46% of people having either organized or been invited on a trip via the site. (TourismExchange, March 2011)
Hoteliers, B&B owners and innkeepers are embracing online engagement with consumers to attract travellers in 2011, according to a TripAdvisor survey. More than half (or 57%) expect their social media marketing budgets to increase this year over last.
Other trends cited by hospitality providers in TripAdvisor's first survey of 1,000 accommodation people include:
- Almost one-third of survey respondents plan to launch programs, for the first time in 2011, to engage with travellers using mobile devices.
- Another 27% indicated that they had offered such programs last year and will continue to do so this year.
- 46% have no plans to offer programs to engage travellers using mobile devices in 2011.
TripAdvisor's first annual Accommodation Owners Survey suggests that the hotel industry is still being affected by a slow economy, as the majority of respondents don't foresee room rate increases this year, according to Christine Petersen, president of TripAdvisor for Business. Yet, savvy hoteliers are attempting to stand apart from the crowd by embracing social media, launching mobile marketing features and offering the programs consumers demand most. (Travelmole, February 2011)
Two percent of all users produce the majority of content on Twitter, according to Sysomos. Sysomos' Twitter stats are some of the most robust and speak about Twitter as an active community that saw immense growth this past year. The company examined over a billion tweets and over 20 million users through 2010.
The number of Twitter users who are willing to share personal information in their bios has nearly doubled compared to 2009. A full 69% of users have a completed bio now, compared to only 31% in 2009. Specifically, 82% provide a name, 73% divulge location information, and 45% include a link to a website.
From January 2010 to mid-August 2010, new users accounted for about 44% of all Twitter users. This means in just about eight months, the population of Twitter has nearly doubled.
Sysomos also reveals that only 2.12% of Twitter users have more than 1,000 followers, while nearly 96% has under 500.
Likely due to the large chunk of Twitter users who are new to the service, only 2.7% have made more than 5,000 tweets, while over 80% have made under 500. And it looks like there is a small group of hard-core Twitterati that make up the bulk of the conversation on Twitter. 2.2% of Twitter users make up just under 60% of all tweets, while 22.5% account for 90% of everything that goes on within the Twitter-verse.
Sysomos found that many of these "most active" Twitter accounts are actually automatic feed generators.
The number-one tweeter in 2010 was an account called Qanow with more than 366,000 tweets to its name. A quick glance at the account itself, however, shows that it's not really a "person" - every tweet (coming in at 1 to 5 minute intervals throughout the day) includes a link to the Qanow website with a tracking number attached. (Mediabistro.com, December 2010)
Twitter's user base has experienced infamous growth over the past couple years, with the company announcing in December that 100 million new accounts had been opened in 2010 and eMarketer estimating that the US Twitter population rose from 18 million in 2009 to 26 million last year. The social media service may also be beginning to mature as a community.
Users' following habits have changed dramatically since 2009, according to research from Sysomos. That year, nearly two in five Twitter users around the world followed five people or fewer. By 2010 that group had been sliced nearly in half, indicating more participation among users. There was also a sharp difference in the proportion of accounts who were followed by five or fewer other users, dropping from 46% of the total in 2009 to 32% in 2010.
Twitter users worldwide, by number of people followed, 2009 & 2010:
- 0-5: 37% of total in 2009 / 21% in 2010
- 5-100: 56% / 58%
- 100+: 7% / 21%
While a relatively small group of users still posts the lion's share of tweets, this suggests Twitter has become a more participatory community, possibly making the site stickier for members and increasing conversation levels.
Users are also willing to tell Twitter; and whoever else may be looking; more about themselves. There was a near-doubling in the proportion of accounts worldwide that provided data on their location, name, biography and URL between 2009 and 2010.
Information that Twitter users worldwide provide on their profile, 2010:
- Location: 44% of Twitter users in 2009 / 82% in 2010
- Detailed name: 33% / 73%
- Users with bio: 31% / 69%
- URL on their profile: 22% / 45%
Tweeting is still a relatively niche phenomenon among the population as a whole, with a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey indicating just 8% of US web users participate in the service. But those users may be developing a deeper relationship with the site that will keep it a vibrant community for marketers. (eMarketer, January 2011)
More than 64% of respondents in a global study by Sheraton Hotels & Resorts said they use social media to make their travel plans. Within the 25-34 year old participant group, the number is even higher; 76% look to popular social media sites to plan their next getaway. Overall more than 60% use social media to stay in touch with family and friends while traveling.
The study also found that more than a third (36%) says they'd rather log on than make a call to share good news. Overall, survey respondents ranked social media somewhere near air and water as a must-have in their lives. Four-fifths of respondents said they access social networking sites throughout the day, while 39% said they "could not live without" social media sites. A third of respondents said they log in multiple times each hour. Habits barely shift on the road. A fifth of respondents say that they check social networking sites multiple times throughout the day while traveling.
Before meeting a new business contact, more than half of those surveyed check out their new contact's social networking profiles (54%). Nearly 60% say they have not hired a candidate based on a negative impression from a social-media profile. More than half (54%) of respondents say they know someone who has been fired for something said or posted online.
Regardless of pitfalls, social networking's popularity as a networking tool continues to grow. More than half of all respondents (56%) agreed about the importance of doing business with people active in social media channels; 55% use online social networking to meet new business contacts and maintain current ones. And many use social media to mix business and pleasure - literally. More than half of those surveyed have arranged a romantic interlude on the road using social networks, with men more likely to do so (45%) than women (40%).
Don't always believe what you read. Nearly 70% of respondents say they aren't honest on social networking sites; 27% of those fib "a little," 21% flat-out "lie," and 20% admit that their postings are total fabrications. Women are more inclined to tell little white lies online; men were more likely to be 100% honest (46%) versus their female counterparts (18%).
More than 50% of all Sheraton guests use the Link@Sheraton during their stay. Facebook is the most visited site at the Link@Sheraton, with 75% of Link users logging in during their stay. More than 60% of those surveyed (62%) find that social media makes it easier for them to meet people while traveling for work.
The global study was conducted by STUDYLOGIC LLC, which surveyed 4,204 people via phone in the US, UK and China. Sheraton recently completed the roll-out of its signature offering "Link@Sheraton experienced with Microsoft," - a technology-driven social hub that keeps travelers connected 24/7 at nearly 400 hotels around the world. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, December 2010)
Google's big social initiative, once thought to be a full-fledged social network named "Google Me," is experiencing delays that have pushed back the launch until spring 2011. The likely culprit is disagreement on the design, purpose and execution of the project.
Mashable has learned that Google's big social play could debut in March or April, a far cry from earlier rumors that pegged a 2010 launch date.
Beyond YouTube, Google has a poor track record in social, part of the reason why it acquired Slide and Ångströ. The delay of Google's big social initiative is yet another black eye for the company. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, December 2010)
In 2011, marketers will need to rethink their approach to advertising and marketing and intensify their focus on creating magnetic content that will naturally attract consumers, rather than relying solely on the interruption model of advertising, which consumers are responding to less and less. Think pull vs. push.
Magnetic content can include anything created on behalf of a brand - be it an ad, YouTube video, online game, Facebook page, Twitter promo or mobile app - that consumers genuinely want to engage with and pass along to others. This content entertains, amuses, informs, serves a function or satisfies a consumer need. It's welcome instead of annoying or interruptive.
Marketers, especially those working in social media, have seen the proven value of branded content, sometimes also referred to as "earned media." Nearly three-quarters of US companies with a social media strategy used such content in their campaigns, making it the most common type of content used, according to a June 2010 study by King Fish Media, HubSpot and Junta42. (eMarketer, December 2010)
77% of users said they followed a brand for free products or discounts. No surprise there. But getting the engagement and keeping it, are two different things. More than ever, social media users are including brands in their list of friends and follows but according to the 2010 Cone Consumer New Media Study, five is the magic cutoff number.
Attracting new media followers is like starting a fire - coupons are your gasoline, and engaging content are the logs that keep the fire burning. Consumers' affinity can only tolerate five brands, so companies need to think beyond the coupon or clever widget to figure out how to develop long-term relationships with real staying power. The best new media strategies are those that balance relevant content with timely promotions and ongoing company-consumer dialogue.
According to the survey, 58% of users will stop following a company if it acts irresponsibly toward its consumers, over-communicates with them (58%) or provides irrelevant content (53%). Under-communicating (36%) or censoring user-generated content (28%) are the lesser reasons why people disconnect. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, November 2010)
A study by travel social network WAYN aim at establishing the popularity of tourist boards around the world in social media. The network combined the number of Twitter followers with Facebook "likes" on fan pages and followers on each tourist board's page on WAYN.
WAYN ranking of top 10 national DMO in social media (Facebook likes/Twitter follows/WAYN followers) - the data was collected in November 2010:
1. Australia: 966,581
2. New Zealand: 282,945
3. Spain: 265,125
4. Croatia: 173,968
5. Thailand: 114,649
6. Jamaica: 102,647
7. South Africa: 78,502
8. Iceland: 54,914
9. Ireland: 45,411
10. Holland: 37,407
The reason WAYN has produced the table is due to its work with South Africa Tourism. The DMO has managed to attract around 40,000 friends/followers to its WAYN profile page in less than three months, 7,000 more than its existing Facebook fan page. Co-founder Jerome Touze predicts SAT will reach a wider total of over 200,000 by April 2011 because of a concerted effort to attract more followers in all channels, especially WAYN, which it has partnered with on and off for a few years.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect to the data is the vast difference in supposed popularity between the top DMOs and even those in ninth or tenth position. (tnooz - talking travel tech, November 2010)
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has indicated that his company has more than 500 million members, and more than half of them use Facebook every day, with growth accelerating thanks to mobile.
Zuckerberg shared this information with Tim O'Reilly and John Battelle in a panel discussion at the Web 2.0 Summit. The Facebook CEO believes most industries are going to be redesigned around users' social activity; he used this metric as a foundation for that statement. Zuckerberg also revealed the company's recently launched Groups product "has been one of the fastest growing products ever."
His clear point is that Facebook builds products - Photos, Groups, Messages - that people use more frequently than they use more established services with similar features because Facebook's products are inherently social. Zuckerberg also stated he believes the company will play a significant role in reforming games, music, music, TV and news verticals going forward.
Facebook also recently revealed its new messaging system. The new Facebook Messages represents Facebook's vision for reinventing communication with social aspects in focus. (Mashable, November 2010)
Stealth startup Path has finally launched after months of hype, speculation and rumors; in many ways, it is the anti-social network. Path calls itself "The Personal Network" because it's determined to go against the example set by Twitter's follower model; you are limited to just 50 friends on Path. It chose the 50 number based on the theories of Oxford professor of evolutionary psychology Robin Dunbar, who claims that 150 is the maximum number of social relationships any human can handle.
Because your personal network is limited to your 50 closest friends and family, you can always trust that you can post any moment, no matter how personal, according to Path that said in its announcement blog post - "Path is a place where you can be yourself."
Path is a suite of applications (starting with the iPhone) focused on intimate photo sharing. All you do is share pictures and three pieces of information to give them context: people, places and things. As part of its mission to be a personal network, Path has spurned the usual social networking norms; likes, comments, and photo sharing on your other social networks are nowhere to be found. There are no photo filters or viral photos like you might find on Instagram.
Path has received a lot of attention because of its founding team: former Facebook senior platform manager Dave Morin, Macster co-creator Dustin Mierau and Napster co-founder Shawn Fanning. The company raised a blockbuster seed funding round with angel investors like Kevin Rose, Ron Conway and Paul Buchheit.
Is Path's against-the-grind approach a recipe for success? It's going to get a lot of attention and a lot of downloads based on the reputation of its founders alone, but whether that translates into consistent, active users could be another story. Then again, the power of exclusivity could work in Path's favor. (Mashable, November 2010)
94% of mobile operators believe social networking will be a more popular form of mobile communication than either voice or texting by 2015, according to a new survey by mobile messaging service provider Airwide Solutions.
The survey asked 31 of the top mobile operators across Europe, North American and Asia to predict the main catalyst for network and subscriber growth in five years. The operators said that "social networking" wouldn't just be the most heavily used service among applications, it would be the "most important form of communication," too.
The findings mark quite a jump for social networking, which now accounts for half of all mobile internet traffic, mainly on smartphones, according to research firm mobileSQUARED, a partner in the survey. And it's those smartphones, from the Android to the iPhone, that seem be the engine fueling social networking's growth.
The operators said that "social networking" type applications would be the most-used apps by 2015, followed by messaging, email and voice (55%). Navigation, camera, video, music and financial apps rounded out the top 10.
Despite the predicted enthusiasm for social networking, mobile operators surveyed declined to send text messaging and voice to the wayside just yet. 87% of operators predict messaging and 81 predict voice will follow social networking in the top three of most heavily used forms of communication in 2015.
The survey also found that in five years, the time users spend on mobile web sites will likely increase from less than one minute per day to in excess of 10 minutes. (Social Times, November 2010)
A sizable number of female travellers, especially those on a leisure vacation, access social media while travelling, according to a survey by Women on Their Way by Wyndham Worldwide conducted by Vision Critical. The survey polled 500 women between the ages of 18-50 on how they use social media when they travel. The women surveyed have a social media account and have had an overnight trip in the past 12 months.
Key findings from the survey include:
- Almost half (46%) of women use social media during their trip, and half access it through their smart phones.
- Of those respondents who use social media during their trip, the majority (81%) are on a leisure vacation. Three in every four women are on family visits and a quarter are on girlfriend getaways.
- Facebook is the social media site of choice for the connected traveller. Almost two-in-five women provide status updates or commentary during their trip on Facebook and well over half (57%) share photos or videos.
- Younger respondents are more ‘plugged in' and are more likely to be using social media during their trip. More than half of those under the age of 35 are using social media while on their trip, almost two-thirds share photos or videos and 46 percent update their status or provide commentary.
- Most respondents commented that the biggest reason they use social media when they travel was to stay in touch with friends and family while travelling and share their experience with others.
Women on Their Way is an online resource for business and leisure travellers to find what they need to plan and book their next trip. (Travelmole, October 2010)
Bill Carroll, a senior lecturer at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell gives six ways that social media could make that impact on the hotel industry. This is part of the Future of Social Media Series, supported by Gist.
1. Extending Concierge Services: A concierge with a Twitter feed could be a powerful thing. Instead of making a single stop at the concierge desk to collect brochures, guests could ask questions before they get to the hotel, from their rooms, or while they're out exploring. They would also have easy access to the questions other guests asked and past recommendations. Several tourism bureaus have already figured out this strategy. Hotels are for the most part still experimenting.
2. On-Site Merchandising: Carroll sees the biggest on-site opportunity for social media in the hospitality industry at the intersection of social media and mobile. If mobile geolocation features alert a hotel that you are in the building, it creates the opportunity for them to pitch relevant services. Perhaps when you arrive, for instance, management will encourage you to come down to the bar and enjoy a complimentary cocktail. When Foursquare users check into the Wynn Hotel & Casino Las Vegas, for example, they unlock a special that earns them a complimentary glass of champagne at Blush Boutique, one of Wynn Las Vegas's nightclubs. "Location-based services such as Foursquare and Facebook Places have brought a new level of how people demonstrate that they want to be associated with where they are, and that they are interested in communicating with people in the same place," says John Wallis, the global head of marketing and brand strategy for Hyatt. "Based on the evolution of these channels, we have the potential to market to customers in a manner that is 100% relevant to their situation at that moment."
3. Customer Service and Recovery: Interacting with customers using Facebook and Twitter can improve customer service. The idea of personalized customer service was also possible with a telephone number. But it's vastly easier with social media.
5. Facilitating Guest Communities:. Marriott launched a beta version of an online community for its reward members called Marriott Rewards Insiders. Marriott's 33 million active reward members can share travel tips and stories as well as get the insider scoop from Marriott's own people. Hyatt has also built a Facebook community around its Gold Passport reward program.
6. Emphasizing Unique Properties: Social media can make it easier for both large brands and small independent hotels to tell their stories. In the case of large brands, hotels have the opportunity to highlight individual properties. Potential Hilton guests, for instance, can check out videos of each Caribbean hotel on YouTube. Smaller companies can use social media to reach their customers without a national advertising budget. Many hotels use Twitter, for instance, to communicate promotions and remind customers what they're about.
(Mashable, October 2010)
More than 517 million persons in 212 different countries have joined the Facebook Social Web, in the surprisingly short period of time of six years, according to Internet World Stats data as of August 31, 2010 taken from the Facebook Network itself. This represents about 7.6% of the population.
Facebook usage for August 31 2010:
- WORLD TOTAL: 517,760,460 facebook users (7.6% of the world population)
- Asia: 93,584,580 (2.4%)
- Africa: 17,607,440 (1.7%)
- Europe: 162,104,640 (19.9%)
- Latin America: 68,189,920 (12.4%)
- North America: 149,054,040 (43.3%)
- Middle East: 11,698,120 (5.5%)
- The Caribbean: 3,925,060 (9.4%)
- Oceania / Australia: 11,596,660 (33.4%)
The largest group of Facebook users is of course in the US with 132,810,940 users as of August 31/10, representing 42.8% of the US population. (Internet World Stats Newsletter Number 058 - September 22, 2010, September 2010)
Having announced the registration of its 500 millionth user in May, Facebook is still growing its international audience rapidly, ranking as the primary social networking service in India for the first time in July and tripling its audience in Mexico, year-over-year, according to data from comScore.
According to the online measurement firm, Facebook overtook Google's social networking site Orkut for the first time in July, attracting an audience of 20.8 million unique users compared with 19.8 million unique users for its competitor. Year-over-year, Facebook therefore attracted 179% more users in July 2010 than it did in the same month 2009.
Meanwhile in Mexico, Facebook more than tripled its audience in the twelve months ending July 2010, attracting 11.6 million unique users, and representing growth of 209%, year-over-year. By comparison, Microsoft and Google sites grew 31% and 27%, respectively, over the same period.
(Clickz.com, September 2010)
Eighty-two percent of social network users selected their leisure travel destination online in the past twelve months, versus just 68% of non-users. The same pattern of online destination selection holds for micro-blog users (83%) and mobile early adopters (91%).
That and four other travel trends from recent PhoCusWright Consumer Technology surveys include these (available to buy online):
- Despite advanced mobile devices like the iPhone making headlines almost daily, the majority of travellers are not using their phones to visit travel-related mobile Web sites or make travel reservations.
- Travel reviews have a significant impact on booking decisions, and, for now, are cited as influential more often than any other type of social media. But not all reviews have equal sway. Their location and content have an effect on how influential they ultimately are, with reviews offered via online travel agency Web sites ranking highest.
- The most popular methods for online travellers to share their leisure travel reviews involve two technologies that are rarely mentioned these days. When asked to cite up to three methods they prefer to use when sharing trip experiences or reviews, the largest percentage of travellers opted for spoken conversation in person or via phone, and email.
- It won't be long before social media will be as common as mobile phones, and savvy travel companies have already started engaging in this space.
Online travellers who have joined/participated in a micro-blog are also slightly more likely than non-users to have stopped using social networks.
(Travelmole.com, August 2010)
eMarketer forecasts that worldwide social network ad spending will rise 31% this year, to $3.3 billion. Next year, spending is expected to increase by an additional 29%, to nearly $4.3 billion.
The US accounts for just over half of that total. But in 2011, as outlined in the new report, "Worldwide Social Network Ad Spending: A Rising Tide," US dominance will start to wane and international social network ad spending will increase more rapidly.
There are several reasons why this is the case.
Social networks are popular in the US, but even more popular in many other markets. According to The Nielsen Company, the social network/blog category reached 86% of active internet users in Brazil in April 2010, and 78% of active users in Italy, for example. Reach in the US was 74%.
Chinese social networks are strong performers. According to the Data Center of China internet, the number of social network users in the country reached 245 million in 2009, up 34% over 2008. Social networks such as Tencent's QQ, search giant Baidu's Baidu Space and RenRen (formerly Xiaonei) dominate usage.
Although China has just over 500 million internet users, according to eMarketer estimates, QQ has even more accounts than that-587 million as of March 2010. Tencent, a public company, reported $141 million in online advertising revenue in 2009 and $30 million in Q1 2010.
Facebook is growing rapidly outside the US. In New Zealand, Hong Kong, Canada and Singapore (as well as in the US), Facebook was the No. 1 website based on market share of visits in June 2010, according to Experian Hitwise.
Homegrown sites are holding their own. In Western Europe and Russia, several midsize social networks have succeeded in maintaining their dominance in their individual markets, even as Facebook has encroached on their territory. In Poland, for example, Nasza Klasa reached 58% of internet users as of spring 2010, making it the No. 3 website, according to Millward Brown SMG/KRC. Facebook did not rank in the top 10.
Hyves in the Netherlands, Odnoklassniki.ru in Russia and Netlog-which is based in Belgium but has a Europe-wide presence-all are continuing to grow. Netlog, for example, has increased its user base to 68 million members as of July 2010, from 56 million in October 2009.
As Facebook and other social sites expand their worldwide presence, they will become more attractive to marketers that want to buy ads across multiple markets.
So far, most companies have been focused on the US opportunity. According to a survey of brand managers conducted by Harris Interactive for Buddy Media, 43% used Facebook to reach customers in local markets worldwide. Among the obstacles the brand managers said they needed to overcome were the difficulty of keeping country-specific content fresh, customizing the same content for multiple markets and creating scalable campaigns across regions.
(emarketer.com, August 2010)
Social networking sites reach a higher percentage of women than men globally, with 75.8% all women online visiting a social networking site in May.
Globally, women demonstrate higher levels of engagement with social networking sites than men. Although women account for 47.9 of total unique visitors to the social networking category, they consume 57 percent of pages and account for nearly 57% of total minutes spent on these sites. Women spend significantly more time on social networking sites than men, with women averaging 5.5 hours per month compared to men's 4 hours, demonstrating the strong engagement that women across the globe share with social sites.
Across each global region, Social Networking reached a higher percentage of women online than men. Social Networking's reach among women is highest in Latin America where it reached 94.1% of females online, and in North America where it reached 91.0% of females. Europe saw 85.6% of its female online population visit a social networking site in May 2010, while in Asia Pacific, where parts of the region still face low broadband penetration and site restrictions, reported a 54.9% reach.
Additional findings from the report include:
- Although men are in the majority across the global Internet, women spend about 8% more time online, averaging 25 hours per month on the Web.
- Globally, women spend 20% more time on Retail sites overall than men. Among the various retail sub-categories, Comparison Shopping and Apparel sites reached the highest percentage of women at 24.8% and 18.7%, respectively, in May 2010.
- In the U.S., women are more avid online buyers than men, with 12.5% of female Internet users making an online purchase in February 2010, compared to 9.3% of men.
- Health sites show some of the largest overall differences in reach between female and male, with a nearly 6-point gap between global women and men.
- In most countries women spend far less time watching online video than men, but women spend a much higher share of their time watching videos on YouTube than men.
- In both the U.S. and Europe, smartphone usage is dominated by men with both markets experiencing close to a 60/40 split in smartphone adoption between the genders.
(Comscore.com, July 2010)
Social network giant Facebook has registered its 500 millionth member, the firm has announced. The site, which launched in 2004, has gained around 100 million new users in the last six months.
As Facebook has grown, many of its competitors have shrunk or disappeared. MySpace, owned by News Corp, was once the poster child of social networking. However, Facebook raced past it in 2008. MySpace currently has around 65 million unique users. Another competitor, Bebo, has also faced difficulty. In June this year its owner, AOL, sold the site just two years after it bought it for $850m (£417m). The company said it was unable to provide the "significant investment" Bebo needed to compete with its social networking rivals.
One site that appears to be growing alongside Facebook is Twitter. Measurements of Twitter traffic are notoriously difficult as many users do not interact with the service through the website. Instead, they use desktop software and mobile phones. However, it is estimated to be approaching 200m users.
(BBC, July 2010)
According to comScore data, TripAdvisor leads the way with the highest number of unique montly website visitors in the online travel segment - more than 35 million unique visitors from across the globe, a few million more than the next largest site, Expedia.
TripAdvisor, for a long time the world's largest travel community website has now also become simply the largest travel website in the world - of any kind. Worldwide comScore figures for the previous 2 months have confirmed this significant development in the online space.
TripAdvisor now leads the way with the highest number of unique monthly visitors on its website - 35,382,000 unique visitors. The next largest travel website in the world is the world's leading online travel agent - Expedia - with monthly traffic figures of 2,122,000 visitors less than TripAdvisor.
(Hotelmarketing.com, July 2010)
Expedia® Media, the advertising sales division of Expedia, Inc., has released insights from a new study on destination marketing organization (DMO) advertising trends. Commissioned by Expedia and conducted by Revel, the study most notably revealed that DMOs are significantly shifting ad dollars online and away from offline media, with some DMOs saying that online now accounts for more than 50% of the organization's total advertising budget.
According to the Expedia study, the shift of DMO marketing dollars to online media has occurred largely because of budget cuts and increasing pressure from governing bodies to measure results.
Underscoring the opportunities that exist online for DMOs, other recent data have shown how important online sources are to leisure travellers. A 2009 PhoCusWright study reported that 56% of U.S. travellers select their vacation destination online. Destination marketers also have the opportunity online to influence leisure travellers in the decision process, as a 2009 Google-Compete study showed that as many as 4 in 10 leisure travellers are undecided on an exact destination when they think about planning a trip.
Social media is also an increasingly important channel for destination marketers seeking to connect with travellers online. According to a January 2010 report from Destination Analysts, 43.5% of consumer respondents said they had used some form of user-generated content to plan leisure travel in the last 12 months, and 24% said they had used a mobile phone or PDA to access travel information - 80% higher than the prior year. DMOs recognize the need to capitalize on this trend, and according to Expedia's study, many DMOs said they want to incorporate social media into the marketing mix, but have not yet determined the best way to leverage the channel in their marketing plans.
(Travelindustrywire.com, July 2010)
New research has indicated that corporate travel professionals are increasingly using social media to communicate with travellers and to stay on top of latest travel industry information.
The latest research report "Social Media in Business Travel Management" by American Express Business Travel's eXpert has revealed that social media has proven to be a useful and effective tool to share pertinent information with employees and drive change in organisations.
According to American Express Business Travel, respondents also reported high expectations regarding their companies' future social media usage plan, reporting that within the next year forums, webcasts, and online video are the most likely to be implemented by businesses.
Social media has evolved to play a role in business travel programmes. While half (50%) of respondents said that they use social media to some extent to support travel management today, mid-size companies ($3M to $10M USD in air volume) were the largest adopters (59%) of social media to support business travel management to date.
Many respondents indicated that the primary benefit of social media in supporting managed travel is educating themselves or their organisation about the market. In fact, 44% indicated that staying on top of the latest travel information was the most important social media benefit. This response was followed closely by the interest in using social networking to learn and communicate best practices and reduce business travel costs (43%).
Other findings include:
- 42% use social networking to look for preferred vendors and services from travellers
- 34% seek to uncover travel patterns that could lend to better vendor rates and services
- 26% use social media tools to encourage travellers to network with each other
- 18% network with other travel manager/procurement officer peers.
Of those survey respondents who do use social media to support travel management, when asked specifically what features or functionality would they add if they could design their own social media tools for professional use, the majority (61%) indicated they wanted flexibility to accommodate business travel management processes.
Other top ranking features/functionality include:
- Real time updates such as mobile application, the ability to push out notifications and alerts (39%)
- Supervision of the entire social media sharing process and specific monitoring of those using social media tools (35%)
- Reporting ability - notification to website abuse, comments and security issues (29%).
The most significant barrier to adoption of social media as an organization has been the lack of direct benefits realization, 20% found the business case for social media tools and usage within travel management programs unclear. Lack of strategy or understanding and lack of support from upper management each followed at 15% respectively.
Notably, only 5% of respondents indicated that they have had no barriers or challenges to adopt social media tools as an organization.
(Eye for Travel, July 2010)
Social networking will become the number one choice of communication within a business for a growing number of companies. This is the conclusion of analyst firm Gartner, which claims 20% of businesses will use social networking as their method of choice for workplace communications, by 2014.
Wireless email - defined by Gartner as accounts on email servers accessible through mobile networks on mobile devices, either through an application or web browser - has seen a surge recently. Gartner thinks the number of people using email in this way will break the one billion mark in the next four years. However, the analyst firm believes email will continue to integrate with social networking and it is only a matter of time before the latter becomes the dominant communications tool.
(ITPro, July 2010)
The video, "Social Media Revolution" was first posted on July 30, 2009 and the newest version, "Social Media Revolution Refresh," was released May 5, 2010. This refresh was necessary because so many things had changed in so little time. The video is based on the book Socialnomics by Erik Qualman.
In developing the refresh, they considered whether or not they should include MySpace and they replaced Bebo and Orkut logos with Renren (China) and a Russian site.
As it was a "refresh," some data in the first video is also included in this new one. Below are some data points that are new to this latest iteration:
- Over 50% of the world's population is under the age of 30.
- Facebook tops Google for weekly traffic in the US.
- Facebook added over 200 million users in less than a year.
- We don't have a choice on whether we do social media; the question is how well we do it.
- If Facebook were a country it would be the world's third largest, ahead of the US and only behind China and India. Please note in the first video it was only the fourth largest.
- Yet, QQ and Renren dominate China. Please note that in the first video some data showed QQ was larger than Facebook; this is no longer the case.
- 80% of companies use social media for recruitment; 95% of these use LinkedIn.
- Ashton Kutcher and Ellen DeGeneres (combined) have more Twitter followers than the populations of Ireland, Norway, or Panama.
- 50% of the mobile internet traffic in the UK is for Facebook - people update anywhere, anytime. Imagine what that means for bad customer experiences?
- Generation Y and Z consider e-mail passé - some universities have stopped distributing e-mail accounts. Instead they are distributing e-readers, iPads, and tablets.
- While you watch the above video, 100-plus hours of video will be uploaded to YouTube.
- Wikipedia has over 15 million articles. Studies show it's more accurate than the Encyclopedia Britannica. 78% of these articles are not in English.
- Because of the speed in which social media enables communication, word-of-mouth now becomes world-of-mouth.
- If you were paid $1 for every time an article was posted on Wikipedia, you would earn $1,712 per hour.
- Only 18% of traditional TV campaigns generate a positive ROI.
- Kindle e-books outsold paper books on Christmas Day 2009.
- 60 million status updates happen on Facebook daily.
- Successful companies in social media act more like Dale Carnegie and less like Mad Men - listening first, selling second.
- The ROI of social media is that your business will still exist in five years.
(ClickZ, May 2010)
Facebook will debut location-based features during the next month that will first be tested as a marketing platform by McDonald's, according to an Advertising Age article. The social site will provide users the ability to employ status updates in a manner similar to how Foursquare users "check in." The story said that users - when at a McDonald's location - will be able to check in while featuring one of the quick-serve chain's products, such as a Big Mac, in their activity feed. (ClickZ, May 2010)
Membership of professional social networks like LinkedIn and Viadeo has bloomed since late 2008 as tens of millions of consumers from around the world have sought to widen their "safety networks" fearing worsening economies.
Professional sites seek to distance themselves from social networks like Facebook, taking a more sober approach and giving members more control over their profiles.
When economies have started to improve, advertisers and recruiters are returning to use the services, while continuing uncertainties over sustainability of the recovery and European economic problems are still boosting the take-up of services.
LinkedIn said there are around 500 million professionals who could become its members. This compares with some 100 million members in professional social networks today. LinkedIn has more than 65 million members, compared with some 30 million members of Viadeo.
LinkedIn is among the Web's fastest-growing social networking sites along with Facebook and Twitter, fueling speculation that it is positioning itself for an initial public offering. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, May 2010)
Among all marketers surveyed in January 2010, Twitter barely edged out Facebook as the social tool used most, according to the "2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report" from Social Media Examiner. These sites have gained in importance as blogs have moved down the ladder. But among those most experienced in using social media, habits were different.
Social media tools/sites used by SMB marketers worldwide, January 2010 (% of respondents):
- Twitter: 88%
- Facebook: 87%
- LinkedIn: 78%
- Blogs: 70%
- YouTube or other video site: 46%
- Social bookmarking sites (i.e. Delicious): 27%
- Forums: 26%
- Digg, reddit, Mixx, StumbleUpon or similar site: 22%
- Ning sites: 17%
- MySpace: 1%
Fully 96% of marketers with years of social media experience were using Twitter, while 91% used Facebook and 89% LinkedIn. Marketers with some social media experience were also big on Twitter (92%), followed by Facebook (88%) and LinkedIn (76%). The biggest difference between the two groups was in usage of social video marketing, such as through YouTube. Nearly two-thirds of the most experienced respondents said they used the technique, compared with only 42% of marketers who had several months of experience with social media.
In contrast, marketers new to the social scene, who said they were "just getting started," focused on Facebook. Four in five said they marketed on the social networking giant, compared with a below-average 71% using Twitter and 67% using LinkedIn. This group was least likely to leverage social video, at just 28%.
Overall, fewer than a third of marketers told Social Media Examiner they fell into the most experienced group, up from 23% last year.
Experience level of SMB marketers worldwide who use social media for marketing, Janaury 2010 (% of respondents):
- Been doing this for a few months: 43%
- Been doing this for a few years: 31%
- Just getting started: 22%
- No experience, but plan to use social media: 3%
- No experience and do not plan to use social media: 0%
B2B companies were more likely to report longer experience, with 79.5% saying they had been marketing on social media for at least a few months, compared with 68.7% of B2C marketers. (eMarketer, April 2010)
A small group of business users are getting emails from the Twitter team, inviting them to test "the Twitter Toolkit". Mashable has an overview of some of the new features that businesses can expect to enjoy in the near future.
Twitter's new Business Center features four tabs:
- Overview tab: it provides basic information about business accounts
- Business Info tab: it allows a company to change the information that it submitted during initial registration.
- Verification tab
- Contributors tab: it gives businesses the ability to add multiple users to a business account so that they can tweet on its behalf.
Twitter has also a new feature for businesses: the ability to accept direct messages from any of their followers, regardless of whether they follow that person or not. This is huge for businesses that perform customer service via Twitter: they can get feedback and deal with private customer issues without having to follow the person back first.
There are no details yet as to how much Twitter will charge businesses for these features. For now though, the company is refining and testing its Twitter Toolkit before its eventual public debut. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, May 2010)
68% of all Twitter users aren't followed by a single person they are following, according to a group of researchers at Korea's Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. This makes Twitter more like a broadcast medium than a social network.
After analyzing over 41 million user profiles and 1.47 billion follower/following relationships, the researchers concluded that only 22% of all connections on Twitter are reciprocal. On Flickr, this number is closer to 68% and on Yahoo 360 it's 84%. The large majority (78%) of connections between users on Twitter are one-way relationships.
Given that Twitter was set up for these kinds of non-reciprocal follower/following relationships, it doesn't come as a surprise that many users would use Twitter to follow breaking news channels and celebrities. The fact that almost 80% of these relationships are one-way relationships, however, does come as a surprise and hints at how Twitter's mainstream users use the service more as a news medium than as a social network. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, May 2010)
Twitter is launching the first phase of its Promoted Tweets platform with a handful of advertising partners. The list of partners includes Best Buy, Bravo, Red Bull, Sony Pictures, Starbucks, and Virgin America (with more to come).
According to Twitter, Promoted Tweets "are ordinary Tweets that businesses and organisations want to highlight to a wider group of users". The company shared that users will start to see Tweets promoted by Twitter's partner advertisers called out at the top of some Twitter.com search results pages.
Twiiter indicates that they will attempt to measure whether the Tweets resonate with users and stop showing Promoted Tweets that don't resonate. Promoted Tweets will be clearly labeled as "promoted" when an advertiser is paying, but in every other respect they will first exist as regular Tweets and will be organically sent to the timelines of those who follow a brand," stated the company.
Promoted Tweets will also retain all the functionality of a regular Tweet including replying, Retweeting, and favoriting. Only one Promoted Tweet will be displayed on the search results page. (eyefortravel, April 2010)
Launching its universal "like" button, Facebook extended its tentacles across the internet, setting up pipes (see definition) to gather user data from anywhere on the web. At the F8 developers conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a platform that aims to connect the entire internet through the social network. With those like buttons appearing on major publisher sites directly after the announcement, users can thumbs-up individual pages with one click and publish that to Facebook. Meanwhile, that Like is stored for later.
Facebook's new tools, including the like button, activity feeds for other Facebook users and recommendation engines, are designed to embed Facebook functionality on outside websites. With like buttons on 75 sites, including publishers such as CNN and the New York Times, from day one, Facebook expects to serve more than 1 billion buttons in the first 24 hours. Once a user likes a page, the publisher gets a link on the user's page, and means to later publish to that user's newsfeed. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, April 2010)
Customer service, recruiting, contests, giveaways and promotions - these are all standbys for businesses using Twitter as a medium to connect with customers and fans. Given that Twitter as a platform supports nearly limitless applications for business use, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide thought it time to highlight some of the newer Twitter-for-business opportunities that aren't so obvious.
Here are some unique ways to use Twitter in social business strategy as detailed in an article in Mashable:
1. Pitch your followers: Find a way to give your biggest brand advocates creative control over your next event, campaign or company initiative. Spend the time internally to craft a few solid ideas and then pitch them to your followers. This should be much more than a poll or vote, and instead more akin to empowering your Twitter influencers as project stakeholders.
2. Reward loyalty: If you can find a way to automatically reward loyalty for Twitter-sharing, you'll be motivating your audiences to spread your message for you. It's a win-win for everyone, as long as you carefully consider the image of your customer and the message they push out to their followers.
3. Market Research: Create a list of your biggest brand advocates and loudest brand naysayers and hang on their every word - even if that means reading up on their weekend activities. If you can get into the minds and lives of the people you're trying to serve, you'll have a better idea of what your customer wants.
4. Target niche audiences: No brand or business should turn to Promoted Tweets or alternative Twitter advertising options for a cheap Twitter win. Your audience will only respect your Twitter presence if you demonstrate that your ultimate goal is to serve their needs (and not your own). If used wisely, targeting niche audiences with Promoted Tweets could be a powerful way to use Twitter for business on a whole new level.
5. Add your own metadata: Beginning next quarter, Twitter will introduce annotations as a way for developers to attach any kind of metadata (tags, notes, location) they want to tweets. While we'll no doubt see a number of developers build applications for unique purposes, we see this as a prime opportunity for radical businesses to craft their own applications with metadata specific to their goals. Used in combination with the simplistic developer tools available via @anywhere, this could be a powerful way to add Twitter integrations to your site, append notes about visitors' on-site Twitter behaviors, tag tweets that originate from your site, or attach your own identifiers and figure out ways to reward actions (perhaps even loyalty).
(HOTELMARKETING.COM, April 2010)
TripAdvisor announced its new tourist board sponsorship of the Tourism Pages. The sponsorship provides an opportunity for tourist boards to incorporate highly targeted banner advertising, photos and videos, direct links to their own website, brochure links, promotional messaging for deals and announcements, an events calendar, and a visitors' centre placement within the destination map. All of these unique placements will be incorporated into the Tourism Pages on TripAdvisor.
Participating tourist boards will also be able to regularly update their advertising and content modules on their pages. Using a private login, sponsors will be able to keep up to five promotional links of their choice current, as well as their local events calendar, and seasonal photos and videos.
Alongside the unbiased reviews and opinions posted by more than 32 million unique monthly visitors on TripAdvisor, this highly targeted, relevant, and integrated advertising allows tourist boards to best reach an engaged and passionate travel audience while they actively consider traveling to their destination.
Given the successful launch of the TripAdvisor Business Listings subscription advertising for hotels, TripAdvisor expect that tourist boards will be equally as enthusiastic about reaching travellers in this new and integrated way.
TripAdvisor indicate that travellers will now be able to see valuable destination content including regularly updated events information from tourist boards who know their destinations best. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, April 2010)
Social networkers have chosen their platform, and they're reluctant to move. Whether it's Facebook, Twitter or a combination of networks, InSites Consulting Social Media Study shows that social networks are becoming stable and are now finding it difficult to expand as quickly as before.
The InSites Consulting research project Social Networks around the World asked over 2,000 internet users globally about how and why they use social networks. The answers give a fascinating and detailed picture of the similarities and surprising differences across countries and continents.
On average 72% of internet users belong to at least one social network. But this figure hides major differences: 95% of South American internet users are members of a social network, in contrast to 40% of Eastern Europe and Asia. South Americans tend to have the most friends (an average of 360) but they're also the most likely to unfriend their contacts.
Not everybody loves Facebook despite the hype. 63% of Dutch internet users prefer visiting the social network Hyves, while 61% of Portuguese use Hi5. (InSites Consulting - Four Words newsletter, April 2010)
Visual DNAs of travellers are to be created through travel start-up Explorra.com. The aim is to connect internet users with other people, content and products they will find useful. Created by Ciprian Morar, formerly with Expedia, users answer a demographic quiz using a series of photographs in a matrix.
From the visual references, the VisualDNA patented technology collects user's feelings, motivations and emotions and creates a VisualDNA profile scoring each picture on a variety of psychological and preferential axes. This, along with the company's travel search and recommendation engine, aims to provide relevant travel content such as holidays, travel guides, hotels for the user.
The response is almost instant returning results from more than 70 billion combinations of traveller needs, according to Explorra. The company also plans to offer real-time recommendations in the style of Amazon's recommendations. (travelmole, April 2010)
As growth in US traffic to Twitter.com began to flatten toward the end of 2009, the service's staying power was questioned. Had new users migrated to third-party platforms and mobile usage, or had they simply tired of sending 140-character bursts of information?
Research from social media analytics firm Sysomos supports Twitter's stickiness. The company examined more than 1 billion tweets over a four-month period and found that 41.6% of the tweet volume in March 2010 came from users who had joined Twitter at least nine months prior.
As recently as December 2009, these percentages were substantially different, with 26% of tweets coming from nine-month veterans and the largest single percentage, 28.9%, coming from users who had joined six to nine months prior.
A posting on the Sysomos blog sums up the significance of this data: "New users are continuing to tweet at a steady pace while the veterans are becoming more and more active."
Dynamic Logic and Millward Brown reported that, in Q3 2009, 58% of Twitter users surveyed had used the service for less than six months, while another 25% had been using it for 6 to 11 months. This indicates that Twitter usage was still ramping up significantly in mid-to-late 2009, compared with other social media sites such as MySpace and LinkedIn, which had smaller percentages of recent users and much larger portions of longtime users.
Further, a combined 90% of Twitter users said they used Twitter the same or more than six months prior.
These usage patterns suggests a high level of experimentation by new Twitter users, while more experienced users are the most active members of the Twitter community. (eMarketer, April 2010)
Social networks reach an estimated 940 million people around the world, according to January 2010 research from InSites Consulting. Most are there for personal reasons, such as sending messages, looking at pictures, and posting and responding to status updates. But interactions involving information about products and services have proliferated as brands encourage online word-of-mouth.
Asked what source was most believable when it came to information found about brands on social networking sites, internet users were most likely to favour their peers. But "the brand itself" came in a close second, far ahead of journalists, considered traditionally to be an objective source. Notably, users were much less trusting of marketers-a separate response from brands-and didn't put much faith in a brand's competitors either.
Opinions varied by geography, with respondents in Southern and Eastern Europe most trusting of consumer-based word-of-mouth and those in Asia and South America favouring the brand.
The research supports earlier data on trust in word-of-mouth from fellow consumers as well as the ability of brands to foster earned media through their own social network presences, which are also highly trusted.
InSites also found that, while brands were not the top presence that users became fans of, they made a respectable showing. Among those users that had become a fan of anything, 35% showed their support for brands.
Overall, 58% of respondents worldwide had become a fan of something, and 79% had become a member of social networking group. (eMarketer, April 2010)
In 2009 e-mail marketers started to get social, but 2010 will be the year social media makes e-mail marketing more powerful. Social media is a partner, not a threat, to e-mail marketing because it provides new avenues for sharing and engaging customers and prospects.
More than 4 in 10 business executives surveyed by StrongMail said integrating e-mail and social was one of their most important initiatives for 2010, just after improving e-mail performance and targeting and growing opt-in lists.
About a quarter of respondents had already implemented an integrated strategy, and another 24% had formulated a strategy and were researching how to put it in practice. But 18% of business executives wanted to add social components to their e-mail campaigns and did not know where to begin.
So far, the consensus of the value social media adds to e-mail marketing has been in the area of softer metrics. 81% of marketers surveyed by MarketingSherpa in summer 2009 said social media helped to expand the reach of their e-mail content, most likely because of sharing buttons incorporated into e-mail newsletters. A further 78% said social helped to increase brand awareness. (eMarketer, March 2010)
At the 6th annual Hostelworld.com hostel conference that took place in Dublin at the end of January 2010, Hostelworld.com took the opportunity to release some new research from budget travellers, in particular in relation to social and mobile. Highlights included:
- Older generation using hostels more, 13% of respondents over 45
- 47% of respondents use facebook
- 87% bring a mobile phone with them travelling
- 5% use a smartphone to book online
- Europe is top destination for 2010.
Hostelworld.com launched their iPhone app in January of this year which has already proved extremely popular, peaking at number 2 in the free travel apps charts. (TravelDailyNews, February 2010)
In March 2010, both Twitter and Facebook have come out with big location news. Twitter is adding geolocation features and Facebook will soon let users share their location.
While Twitter's geolocation feature has been live through its API since last November 2009, there was no sign of integration into the main twitter.com site until now. For tweets tagged with location, right next to the source of the tweet there is a location placemarker. When you hover over it, it turns blue, and clicking on it brings up a little Google map showing the location that tweet was sent from.
Facebook plans to launch its new location-based feature in late April 2010 at f8, the company's yearly developer conference, according to several people briefed on the project, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss unannounced services. The new location feature will have two aspects, according to the people familiar with Facebook's plans. One will be a service offered directly by Facebook that will allow users to share their location information with friends. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, March 2010)
Facebook continues to attract the lion's share of searches relating to online communities and chat services in the UK, according to data from Experian Hitwise. Searches around the Facebook brand accounted for over a quarter of queries in that category during January 2010. However, that portion is far greater than in the US, where the term "facebook" accounted for just 10.41% of searches in January and "facebook login" accounted for 5.22%. In the UK, those terms attracted 22.14% and 6.12% of queries, respectively, in the online communities category. (ClickZ, February 2010)
A video "Social Media Revolution: Is social media a fad?" by Socialnomics details out social media facts and figures that are hard to ignore. Socialnomics believes that social media isn't a fad, it's a fundamental; shift in the way we communicate.
Some of the findings featured in the presentation/video include:
- By 2010, GenY will outnumber Baby Boomers. 96% of them have joined a social network.
- Years to reach 50 million users: Radio (38 years); TV (13 years); Internet (4 years); iPod (3 years). Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months. iPod Application downloads hit 1 billion in 9 months.
- If Facebook were a country it would be the world's 4th largest.
(Social Media Revolution video, July 2009)
Less than 1 in 5 marketers worldwide measured their social media ROI in 2009, according to a survey by Mzinga and Babson Executive Education.
Professionals worldwide who measure the ROI of their social media programs, August 2009 (% of respondents):
- Measure ROI: 16%
- Do not measure ROI: 84%
Marketers believe that measuring true ROI for social media is difficult, according to eMarketer. There are so many metrics available that it is difficult to choose which ones are the most important. In addition, marketers do not start with clear objectives for using social media.
There is a widespread tendency for social media marketers to focus on Website traffic as their default measurement tool. In several independent surveys and studies, Website traffic was deemed the most popular way of measuring social media marketing efforts.
But there is much more to measurement than simply watching Website visits. Marketers ready to go beyond the toe-dipping stage should define their marketing goals and connect them to social media objectives. Marketers should consider soft metrics as well as hard ones and try to tie a dollar value to them, if possible. And they should not overlook other sources of ROI, such as market research and the customer service value of brand monitoring.
Importantly, marketers should strive to systematically monitor social media interactions and use this valuable ‘listening/learning' data to inform their online and offline media and creative messages, according to eMarketer. (eMarketer, February 2010)
One in five (20%) tweets posted on Twitter includes an inquiry or information about a specific brand-related product or service, according to research at Penn State University. The study focused on micro-communicating and the value of this word-of-mouth medium. It included observation of more than half a million tweets that used brand names, and found out that brand-tweeters are tweeting to connect with products.
Businesses use micro-communication for brand awareness, brand knowledge, and customer relationship, according to the research. Personal use is all over the board. It may be right up there with e-mail in terms of its communication impact.
The study revealed that this passionate cohort of brand-related tweeters is providing companies (increasingly using Twitter for brand-building, brand awareness, and CRM) robust and rich source information regarding their products. Tweets are about as close as one can get to the customer point of purchase for products and services. (brandchannel, February 2010)
Social media is no longer a trend for marketers; it is a reality. Social network ad spending will reach $2.5 billion worldwide in 2010 and $1.3 billion in the US, according to eMarketer. About 64% of US internet users will interact with user-generated content in 2010 and 26 million US adults will use Twitter at least monthly. Mobile social networks will reach 223 million people around the world.
Online social network advertising spending worldwide, 2008-2011:
- 2008: US$1,985 million
- 2009: US$2,220 million
- 2010: US$2,540 million
- 2011: US$2,880 million
Already, more than half of marketers are engaging in some social media activity, according to survey data from a number of researchers.
With so much intense interest and activity, the big question is - are marketers doing it right?, according to eMarketer. Since social media marketing has the potential to affect so many areas of an organization, the enormity of this opportunity leads many marketers to chase after every technique, tactic and metric that passes them by. Instead, marketers should focus on fewer but better-defined objectives and remember that listening, establishing trust, adding value and projecting authenticity are among the best practices that are critical to their success with social media.
Listening is a core competency that all marketers must master. Without good listening skills, marketers will not be able to effectively use social media to reach their customers. (eMarketer, February 2010)
Buzz is Google's new social network and it's already created a stir. There have been concerns over privacy but all in all, the reaction has been very largely positive. Buzz is Google's answer to Twitter and Facebook, remarkably similar to another service (that Facebook acquired and still exists) called Friendfeed.
Buzz is a way for you to share status updates, video, audio and images with friends. Buzz also lets you import your activity from other sites including Picasa, Flickr, Twitter, your blog and others are bound to come.
A little like Facebook, but Google does dramatically improve on the stream based UI that Facebook has become synonymous with. Buzz is fast, imports more services, adds location features and it automatically ‘follows' recommends people you communicate with frequently. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, February 2010)
By 2014, social networking services will replace e-mail as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications for 20% of business users, according to Gartner.
Greater availability of social networking services both inside and outside the firewall, coupled with changing demographics and work styles will lead 20% of users to make a social network the hub of their business communications. During the next several years, most companies will be building out internal social networks and/or allowing business use of personal social network accounts. Social networking will prove to be more effective than e-mail for certain business activities such as status updates and expertise location.
Gartner believes that the rigid distinction between e-mail and social networks will erode. E-mail will take on many social attributes, such as contact brokering while social networks will develop richer e-mail capabilities. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, February 2010)
Users of virtual world Second Life spent $567 million on user-to-user transactions in 2009, up from $344 million in 2008.
Second Life user-to-user transaction value, 2007-2009:
- 2007: $333 million
- 2008: $344 million
- 2009: $567 million
Second Life's worldwide user base increased by 15% to 769 million, while the amount of time spent in the virtual world climbed even faster, by more than 21%, indicating increased engagement.
Number of unique Second Life users worldwide, 2007-2009:
- 2007: 536, 000
- 2008: 668,000
- 2009: 769,000
In 2009, Piper Jaffray predicted more than $2.2 billion in virtual goods revenues worldwide, including $621 million in the US. By 2013, more than $6 billion will be spent worldwide on virtual items. The research firm also predicted that virtual worlds such as Second Life would fall behind in the virtual-goods economy while social network players like Facebook become more involved in the space.
Cary Rosenzweig, CEO of IMVU, another virtual world with extensive user-to-user virtual item offerings, described that service as more like "an e-commerce company ... in the sense that we get our money from the purchase of these virtual credits that people use to buy virtual items". Virtual goods have value to people, according to Mr. Rosenzweig. People buy virtual goods usually for one of three reasons: to express themselves (so they're buying virtual goods to make their avatar look terrific) or to build relationships with other people in the form of gifts. And the third reason, especially in gaming environments, is that virtual goods enhance your power to effect change, to win, to do what you would like to do in that area. (eMarketer, January 2010)
Senior marketers worldwide reported that social networks and applications were their biggest priority for 2010, followed closely by digital infrastructure, according to research from the Society of Digital Agencies (SoDA). While social media marketing looks set to stay top of mind, a majority of respondents considered a range of digital activities at least "important," with only games failing to inspire widespread interest.
Top priorities in 2010 according to senior marketers worldwide (% of respondents):
- Social networks/applications: 45.4%
- Digital infrastructure: 44.5%
- Search optimization: 27.0%
- Mobile: 26.8%
- Blogger outreach: 18.4%
- Viral campaigns: 18.3%
- Digital advertising: 15.9%
- Email marketing: 14.1%
- Games: 8.8%
Marketers are looking closely at measures of engagement. Respondents considered time spent on a site to be the most important performance metric, followed by unique page views.
Advertising performance metrics in which senior marketers worldwide are most interested, 2nd half 2009 (% of respondents):
- Time on site: 27.9%
- Unique page views: 23.7%
- Click-through rate: 16.0%
- Page views: 11.9%
- CPM: 8.0%
- Other (cost per click conversation, ROI, etc.): 9.4%
(eMarketer, January 2010)
After a peak in growth rates in early 2009, uptake of Twitter slowed dramatically toward the end of the year, according to data from HubSpot. Based on a study of user profiles on the microblogging site, HubSpot found worldwide growth was highest in March 2009, at 13%, and dropped to just 3.5% by October.
Decreased growth rates may have a positive effect, however. The user base has matured and, on average, Twitter users have been members of the site for longer, making them more engaged. Users are following more feeds, for example, and being followed more in turn. In January 2010:
- Users followed 170 profiles, on average, compared with about 45 in July 2009.
- Users had an average of 300 followers, versus about 70 in July 2009.
- The average user had made 420 Twitter updates, compared with 120 in July 2009.
Twitter users were also including more complete information in their profiles, such as location, bio and Web address. Still, 82% of Twitter users have fewer than 100 followers, and 81% are following fewer than 100 people.
Twitter users worldwide who added information to their profile, January 2010 (% of total):
- Location: 65% (up from 31% in July 2009)
- Bio: 53% (up from 24%)
- Web address: 41% (up from 20%)
As Twitter matures, it is becoming more international. Less than 51% of Twitter users were from the US in December 2009, down from 62.1% in June 2009, according to Sysomos. Brazil saw the greatest user growth, rising from 2% of the total in June to 8.8% in December.
Leading countries, ranked by Twitter users, December 2009 (% of total):
- US: 50.88%
- Brazil: 8.79%
- UK: 7.20%
- Canada: 4.35%
- Germany: 2.49%
- Indonesia: 2.41%
- Australia: 2.39%
- Netherlands: 1.32%
- India: 1.27%
- Japan: 1.22%
- Mexico: 1.11%
- Philippines: 1.08%
- France: 0.98%
- Spain: 0.78%
- Singapore: 0.69%
- Italy: 0.65%
- Ireland: 0.52%
- Chile: 0.51%
- Sweden: 0.50%
- New Zealand: 0.47%
US users accounted for nearly 57% of tweets, however, showing they are more active than users in other countries, which can be easily explained by the fact that more experienced Twitter users are more engaged. Broken down by city, London had the most Twitter users, followed by Los Angeles, Sysomos found. But New Yorkers were the most active tweeters, accounting for some 2.4% of all posts. (eMarketer, January 2010)
Reports will provide a list of tracked conversions and the impressions and the clicks that led to each. The feature will help marketers build out messages as the campaign expands into a variety of pieces.
Conversion tracking aims to complement Facebook Connect, a tool that allows advertisers to target fans of brands, as well as friends of the connected fans. The Facebook Connect tool reports back on everything from demographics to interests listed in Facebook profiles. Ads connecting to Facebook Connect tie in social context, such as the person's name. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, January 2010)
If Twitter is all about answering that seemingly simplest of questions, "What are you doing now?" then the newest location-based services are all about answering the more intriguing question, "What are you doing next?" Not to be confused with basic GPS-enabled location tracking services, the new location-based check-in services encourage people to share what they like, dislike, and generally think others might find interesting about the place they're at right now in the context of the decision they're about to make. As a marketer, these new check-in services, powered by social Web technology, are worth taking the time to understand. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, January 2010)
Australian internet users spend the most time engaging with social networking sites and blogs, according to data from Nielsen. The firm estimates the average Australian user spent almost 7 hours on such sites during December 2009, followed by the US and the UK which both averaged around 6 hours and 9 minutes per user.
In terms of reach, the US continues to dominate, with 142.1 million unique users of social media during the month. Japan followed with 46.6 million users, followed by Brazil with 31 million. In Australia, social media attracted just shy of 10 million users.
Unique users of social media by country, December 2009:
1. US: 142,052,000
2. Japan: 46,558,000
3. Brazil: 31,345,000
4. UK: 29,129,000
5. Germany: 28,057,000
6. France: 26,786,000
7. Spain: 19,456,000
8. Italy: 18,256,000
9. Australia: 9,895,000
10. Switzerland: 2,451,000
(ClickZ, January 2010)
As Facebook reached 350 million users worldwide, its largest single source of growth was still the US. The US gain of more than 4.5 million monthly active Facebook users was the highest number of any country, according to Inside Facebook. Because of the large installed base of US Facebook users, it represented a 5% gain, compared with 10% growth in countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia.
Top 10 countries, ranked by gain in Facebook users between December 2009 & January 2010:
1. US: +4,576,220 (+5% compared to December 2009)
2. Indonesia: +1,431,160 (+10%)
3. Philippines: +780,880 (+10%)
4. Turkey: +633,260 (+4%)
5. Italy: +507,180 (+4%)
6. India: +483,880 (+9%)
7. Mexico: +459,940 (+7%)
8. Spain: +425,560 (+6%)
9. Malaysia: +399,040 (+10%)
10. Argentina: +339,560 (+5%)
For its size, India added relatively few new users in December 2009. Its high 9% growth rate was from a very small base, and Facebook still reaches only 0.5% of the population of the country.
The substantial increase in US users put Facebook's domestic monthly active user audience over the 100 million mark. And at the same time as the most overall growth came from the home market, the biggest increases in the US came among younger adults, Facebook's core audience. The largest gain came from males ages 18 to 25, followed by women 26 to 34. Despite the already-large base of users under 35, those groups also posted the highest rates of growth. Increases in usage among older users, which was relatively stronger earlier in 2009, had slowed.
The rise of Facebook among older users led to worries that the younger demographic would be turned off by a social site that now included profiles of their parents. But Facebook has remained popular among young adults and especially college students.
According to Inside Facebook, 4 in 10 active US Facebook users are under 25 as of January 2010, and another 23% are between 26 and 34. (eMarketer, January 2010)
The accelerated growth of the Social Networks over the past 12 months now make it imperative to understand different nuances of consumer behaviour, and the new marketing etiquette required to respond to these changes, according to Experian Hitwise.
Top-level findings from this research include:
- Over the past 12 months the US has experienced the largest usage growth of 52.4% (the week ending 17 October 2009 compared to the week ending 18 October 2008), followed by Hong Kong growing at 38.6%, Singapore 30.5%, Australia 27.8%, UK 20.0% and New Zealand with an increase of 14.3%.
- In Hong Kong Social Networks and Forums are a dominant force with almost 1 in every 4 visits (23.9% share in the week ending 17 October 2009) and continuing to grow while the share of visits growth by Search Engines have been minimal.
- Social Networks and Forums hold 14.1% of the visits from Singapore internet users compared to Search Engines' 10.1% for the week ending 17 October 2009, with a growth trend favouring Social Networks and Forums.
- Based on share of visits for the week ending 17 October 2009, Facebook is currently the number two website in other Experian Hitwise monitored markets - US, UK and New Zealand and is the leading website in Canada (since the week ending 15 August 2009), Singapore (since the week ending 22 August 2009) and Hong Kong (since the week ending 13 December 2007).
(Hitwise Singapore Newsletter - November 2009, November 2009)
In the US, a mature internet market, managing a social network profile was the top online user-generated content activity, participated in by 44.2% of Web users. This was followed closely by uploading photos (42.6%). Uploading video (15.3%), blogging (12.8%) and microblogging (7.0%) were significantly less popular.
Users in the UK and Canada had similar rates of social network use and photo-sharing, and also tapered off dramatically when it came to more advanced user-generated content activities.
Japan, another mature internet market, has markedly different participation in user-generated content activities. Much lower percentages of Web users manage social network profiles or upload photos, for example. The "Global Web Index" report notes that this is actually a sign of advanced behaviour: The survey measured only activities conducted on a PC, and in Japan, many such activities are now mobile-based. For example, 34% of users accessed social networks only via mobile during the month of the study.
Online user-generated content activities of internet users in Japan, June 2009:
- Written their own blog: 24.5%
- Uploaded photos online: 19.5%
- Managed a social network profile: 14.9%
- Used a microblogging service: 8.0%
- Uploaded a video online: 5.7%
Meanwhile, participation was generally high in China, where overall internet penetration is only 29.6% according to eMarketer estimates. A majority of users uploaded photos (60.3%), and nearly half had a blog (46.0%). More than one-fifth used a microblogging service, far ahead of the more advanced economies.
Trendstream and Lightspeed noted that microblogging usage was fairly low across the board, despite the hype surrounding services such as Twitter. The 7% of US users participating in microblogging was somewhat lower than eMarketer's estimate of 11.1% Twitter penetration this year. (eMarketer, December 2009)
While social media users may not find social sites quite as trustworthy as traditional sources of news, according to research from Crowd Science they do see it as an important communications medium. Users want to be heard. Overall, 45% reported liking when others notice them, leading some to stretch the truth or reveal too much personal information. Young people were especially vulnerable to activities that might haunt them later.
But 36% believed others are simply interested in what they have to say. That shouldn't come as too much of a surprise to marketers, who know many users will tell all their contacts about good (and bad) experiences with products and services.
Females lived up to their reputation as prime targets of marketers seeking the benefits of earned media. Among users over age 30, women were significantly more likely than men to think others wanted to hear what they thought. In addition, women overall were more than three times as likely as men to say online social media was their favourite leisure activity.
Though not everything appearing on social media is trustworthy, nearly half of users responding to the survey claimed they could "easily" tell whether information they got from social media was true. Less than a quarter disagreed. These savvy users believe they can spot the difference between the real deal and insincere efforts.
While face-to-face contact with friends was generally preferred, about a third of users said they would rather communicate by social media than by telephone. (eMarketer, December 2009)
Twitter has worked on a mobile site for its social networking and microblogging service. Leland Rechis, who leads the user experience on the @twittermobile team, said the mobile team have built a brand new mobile web client from scratch using only Twitter APIs. Although no launch date has been given it is expected to be rolled out soon. (EyeForTravel, December 2009)
The marketing tactics most often used on social sites are not necessarily the best ones, according to a September 2009 MarketingProfs survey of business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers.
The most common marketing tactic used on Facebook was attempting to drive traffic to corporate materials through status updates, followed by friending customers.
But the most effective tactic for consumer-oriented companies was creating a Facebook application, which was done by less than a quarter of total respondents. Both B2B and B2C companies also reported surveys of their fans as effective; fan surveys were the third-most-common tactic attempted. Unsurprisingly, buying ads (even targeted ones) was the least effective type of social media marketing overall.
Like those on Facebook, marketers using Twitter were also most interested in increasing traffic. Driving traffic by linking to marketing Webpages was the most common activity on the microblogging site, followed by driving sales by linking to promotional pages. But again, the most effective tactics were different.
B2C marketers had the most success with monitoring Twitter for PR problems (done by half of all respondents) and contacting users who posted negative comments about their brand (done by only 22.4% of total respondents). B2B companies also succeeded with brand monitoring, as well as with using Twitter invites for in-person events (the least common tactic of all).
Though some firms, such as Dell, have reported success in the area, the study found that driving sales was the least effective marketing tactic attempted by companies using Twitter. (eMarketer, January 2010)
Last Updated on Saturday, 29 June 2013 20:21