Today InSites Consulting published the third edition of its study “Social Media around the world” in collaboration with data and sampling partner SSI and translation agency No Problem!. More than 7,800 respondents from nineteen different countries took part in the new survey and this article presents the study’s ten most striking conclusions. The entire study can be downloaded free of charge via SlideShare.
1. There are more than 1.5 billion social network users worldwide
More than 7 in 10 surfers are active on social media, which translates into more than 1.5 billion social networkers worldwide. The vast majority of these internauts have a Facebook account. Nearly every human on the planet knows Facebook by now – it strikes me as strange that there is still a minority that doesn’t. Close to 8% are familiar with Twitter and Google+ is also widely known (70%). Twitter and Google+ share the same problem: both are very well known but their degree of penetration is rather low. Added to this is the fact that Google+ is used less frequently than Twitter.
2. Fast adoption of smartphones boosts social media use
Most of the participating countries have seen a significant rise in the use of smartphones over the last twelve months. In most countries nearly everyone has an internet subscription to go with their mobile. Unfortunately, Belgium is the exception to the rule.
The rise of mobile internet is pushing the use of social media to new heights. Consumers with mobile internet access use the social web more often and more intensively.
3. Most internauts use no more than two social network sites
New social network sites will find it extremely difficult to carve out a niche in the market; the majority of consumers are quite happy with the sites they are currently using and they have no intention of expanding their social media use. As a matter of fact, over 60% of consumers are active on just two social network sites and a mere 8% manage an account on more than five websites. Most readers of this article – including its author – most likely belong to this second category. Let’s face it: we are the exception and not the rule. Other people probably think we are freaks.
4. Pinterest and Instagram are the rising stars
New social network sites will have a hard time succeeding unless they have a unique function. Instagram and Pinterest clearly fit the bill. The adoption rate of both sites is quite high, especially in the US where 10% of surfers have already discovered Pinterest and 7% are using Instagram. The numbers are less impressive in Europe but they’re catching up quickly. In addition, users of both sites are very enthusiastic and intend to spend more time on these sites in the future. Pinterest has been dubbed a women’s site and our analyses show this to be correct. However, the same can be said of the Instagram site whose audience is also predominantly female.
5. Klout is a niche
Many marketing and social media professionals worry about their Klout score. However, our study reveals that only a small group of some 9% actively keep track of their Klout score. This is probably the same group of people who are a member of more than five social networks.
6. Half of consumers are connected to at least one brand
People do more than just talk to each other on social media; they also like to link their profiles to certain companies. The average consumer is a passive follower of 8 to 15 brands and an interactive follower of 4 to 8 more. Consumers are very clear in their expectations of brands. They want to receive product information and they wouldn’t see no to a hefty discount. They like free goodies, competitions and games are fun and, finally, they are more than happy to help companies improve their existing products and services.
7. 1 in 2 consumers occasionally post brand-related content
People link themselves to brands but they also like to talk about them. One in two social network users occasionally post brand-related content. The good part is that the vast majority of these posts are positive. Negative feedback only accounts for 8-10% of cases. Personal experience with a specific product or service is the main reason why consumers write about a company, followed by promotions, competitions and general news regarding the company in question. Ads are losing their role as a conversation starter.
8. Pinterest probably more interesting for brands than Instagram
Most brand-related content posted by consumers can be found on Facebook and Twitter. This is obviously related to the degree of penetration of both sites. Still, it’s striking how often Pinterest users post company and brand-related content. Consumes are much quicker to post brand content on Pinterest than on Instagram. In the long term, Pinterest may well develop into a very interesting brand platform.
9. People don’t really trust brand fans
In recent years, companies have invested a lot of energy in recruiting brand fans. However, our study shows that being a brand fan also compromises your credibility. Brand fans are even considered less credible than the company’s own staff, probably because people feel fans are no longer objective. They assume that fans can’t say anything wrong about a brand, which diminishes their credibility.
10. 80% of people are open to co-creation
The vast majority of consumers would be happy to help a brand (they feel good about). They primarily want to help improve existing products and services. Incidentally, most consumers are not looking to be rewarded financially; all they are asking for is company feedback on their input. Most people prefer an online community as a platform for helping companies. In this regard, Facebook communities are as popular as market research communities.
Important to all social media professionals
Every year I anxiously await the results of this study. The trends we identified last year have largely been confirmed. The study also gives us an insight into the status of the latest online toys. In my opinion, the main conclusion is that us social media fanatics should take care to remain firmly anchored in reality. Not everyone wants to try every new platform and not all of us are waiting for some obscure software update. On the contrary, the reality is that the average consumer has more or less shaped the social media landscape and structural changes are unlikely in the next few years. Consumers are active on just one or two social networks. They have integrated these sites into their everyday lives and while mobile technology is speeding up this process, this is as far as it goes for now. A fringe minority of consumers juggle more than four social network accounts or attach at least some importance to Klout.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with being a social media fanatic, but when advising companies we need to keep our feet on the ground and be realistic.
Download the full details of this study
In this article I’ve discussed the 10 things that caught my attention during my analysis. Click here if you want to read the full report.