Eight global social media trends for 2011
December 29, 2011 by Terence LEE
Recently, comScore, a leader in digital business analytics, has released a report documenting the key social media trends for 2011. What is clear is that social networking sites have become one of the main channels for businesses to engage existing customers and win over new ones. So, it’s important that entrepreneurs keep abreast about the current state of social networking, adopt their online strategies to suit the current environment, and anticipate future trends.
Here are several key points summarized from the full report.
1) Social networking has emerged globally as the activity which Internet users spend the most time on.
Social networking sites are reaching 82 percent of the global Internet population, or 1.2 billion users. The activity now accounts for 19 percent of time spent online, making it the most popular activity on the Internet. That’s a huge jump from a mere six percent in 2007. Social networking is followed closely behind by search/navigation, retail, and communication.
2) East Asian countries spend the least amount of time on social networks.
While social networking is almost universally a popular activity, cultural differences do matter. While Asia Pacific are seeing high penetration rates for social media, its Internet users are spending only 11 percent of time online on social networks, or slightly under three hours a month.
In contrast, Latin Americans are the marathon runners of social networking, clocking in at 28 percent and over 7.6 hours of monthly usage. Israelis have emerged as the most prolific social media users, at 11.1 hours. In Asia, Philippines is the only outlier occupying the global top ten.
While usage patterns differ across continents, what is similar is that women consistently use social media more than men, or 1.5 hours more per month to be exact.
3) Older people no longer form the minority of social media users (with the exception of Asia).
It used to be true that social networking is a young person’s game. But older people have caught on in the past 18 to 24 months. In fact, the aged 55+ segment is the fastest growing among all age groups.
However, this trend is far more noticeable in North America, Latin America and Europe than in Asia Pacific, where old people still lag behind. Penetration rate among those above 55 in the Asia Pacific is only 59.8 percent against a global average of 79.9 percent.
Internet users aged 15 to 24 are the most prolific at utilizing social media, while those above 55 are the least regular.
4) Facebook continues to be the most dominant social network.
Facebook reaches 55 percent of Internet users worldwide, accounts for three-quarters of the time spent on social networks and one in seven minutes of total time spent online. Facebook is the leader in 30 out of 43 individual countries tracked by comScore in the beginning of 2010, and has since gone on to capture pole position in six more countries.
Today, there only seven markets where Facebook is not the largest player ?– China, South Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Brazil, Poland, and Russia.
5) Microblogging tools like Twitter, Tumblr, and Sina Weibo are gaining traction.
Today, Twitter reaches one in ten Internet users globally, hitting a growth rate of 59 percent over the past year. It has emerged as an important tool for ordinary citizens to report on important events like the Japanese Tsunami and the death of Steve Jobs as well as organize political movements like the Occupy Wall Street protests.
Sina Weibo, the tenth largest social network worldwide, is the leading microblogging tool in China with an impressive 181 percent growth rate in the past year. Tumblr, in 12th position, grew by 172 percent over the same period of time. These two tools have registered the strongest growth among the top 20.
With microblogging tools registering the strongest growth, it’s likely they’ll become an even more dominant force in the social media world for years to come.
6) Among the top 20, US-based social networks are attracting vast non-US audiences.
The top four social networks — Facebook, Twitter, Windows Live Profile, and LinkedIn — all have the majority of their users coming from outside the US.
7) Google+ surged to 25 million users faster than any social network in history, but future success remains uncertain.
Google+, which is Google’s own social network, was off to a fast start. It reached 25 million global unique visitors in under a month, and now currently has 65 million users, or five percent of the total social networking audience. To put things in perspective, Facebook took 36 months while Twitter needed 33 months to reach the milestone. However, while sign-ups have certainly increased, Google+ weekly visits have actually dropped to 1.16 million in August from a peak of 1.8 million in July.
8) In the US, social networks lead in online display ad delivered, but lag in terms of spending.
More online display ads are now being displayed on social networking sites than anywhere else, capturing one quarter of US ad impressions. This mirrors the rise in social networking as the predominant activity for Internet users. However, advertisers are still not paying a lot for display ads in social networks, accounting for only 14.8 percent of total US online display ad spend.
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About The Author
Terence LEE - Editor
Terence writes mainly about technology trends and startups in Asia. He believes in crafting smart content: Not just a regurgitation of text, but well thought-out pieces that serve the reader using a combination of data, design, narratives, analysis, and visual impact. His articles have been published on Venturebeat, Yahoo!, Straits Times, Today, and The Online Citizen. He also co-founded NewNation.sg, a satirical news site covering Singapore affairs. Engage him on LinkedIn and Twitter.Read other posts by Terence LEE