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If you’d like to chat about us helping you too, then give us a call on +44 20 3195 1700 or drop us an email.

We Are Social’s Monday Mashup #273

by Laura Muldoon in News

Google and Twitter get cosy with desktop search result integration
It is now possible to view tweet feeds and hashtags on the desktop version of Google’s search results. Twitter and Google announced a new partnership in February, and Twitter integration has been available on Google’s mobile website and apps since May, but it’s nice to see the pair getting along so well with another public display of affection on all of our desktops…

Facebook overtakes Google as traffic source for news and media
Traffic analysis from Parse.ly with data from over 400 major news and media outlets, has revealed that Facebook has overtaken Google as a traffic source and bolstering the theory that search has hit a plateau while Facebook’s growth trajectory continues to head skyward.

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Facebook finally gifts pages and ads with gifs
After rolling out gifs to individual users in May, Facebook has now allowed select business pages to use the flashy graphics. It has been reported that Mark Zuckerberg has in the past held reservations about flashing banner ads in case they negatively affected user experience. I’m less bothered about flashing images and more about the constant penis enlargement ads I’m served. The user reaction to gifs will be monitored closely before a full roll-out to all businesses.

Coca-Cola’s Brazilian brand Kuat's first gif offeringCoca-Cola’s Brazilian brand Kuat’s first gif offering

Facebook is planning to spruce its events offering right up
It’s time for Facebook events to get an overhaul and new details have been confirmed by the Facebook product manager for Facebook Events, Aditya Koolwal. One main goal is to separate out public and private events more significantly. Koolwal has also revealed that the ultimate goal is for Facebook to offer users a tailored list of what’s going on in any given city at any given time. Now please excuse me, I have a ‘WORLD’S LONGEST Slip ‘N’ Slide!!!!’ to attend.

Twitter ads now being served through mobile apps
Brands can now access more users with Twitter creative, through mobile apps (that aren’t Twitter) via the Twitter Audience Platform (TAP). Macy’s, who has used the technology reported engagement rates much higher than industry benchmarks. See below how the Twitter ads appear to users. I’ll just type Twitter one more time now. Twitter.

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Twitter CFO calls for patience as stock falls below IPO price for first time
Bad times for Twitter as its stock dropped below $26 last week, the price set during its initial public offering in November 2013, against a background of ongoing concerns about a lack of growth in its user-base. One reason offered by Twitter for its trouble attracting new users is that it remains “too difficult to use” to truly reach a mass market beyond celebrities and journalists. I’ve taken it upon myself to look into the matter in depth myself. A quote from my mother: “I agree”.

Kik receives $50M cash injection from China’s Tencent
Tencent, the biggest internet company in China, who also own WeChat, is set to help Kik realise its dream of becoming the “WeChat Of The West” through a strategic partnership and a $50m investment. Kik, according to GlobalWebIndex, is currently the 4th placed messenger app amongst 16-24 year-olds in US, behind Facebbook Messenger, Snapchat and Skype. Kik plan to use the money for innovative development in the hope of taking on the the big players of the messaging world, with ambitions of taking on even Facebook Messenger.

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Old Spice get it right again by cracking tough Imgur crowd
After its ‘loony’ Instagram adventure game, those mentalist nutters at Old Spice are all aboard the banter train once again with a new batch of promoted content on Imgur. The notoriously picky users of the platform have responded well to the ‘Gif off’, with one erudite user exclaiming: “The beautiful bastards in your marketing department understand me better than any man.”.

Man from UNCLE Instagram hack brings out the secret agent in users
The Warner Brothers UK team have used Instagram to hide a secret message for users. The message is revealed by regramming the image and applying a certain filter with the chance of winning a swanky watch fit for a spy. I’d love to tell you which filter it is but if I did I would have to kill you.

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Ronald McDonald’s WLTM Tinder audience to advertise to
McDonald’s have surprised Tinder users in Australia this week after launching a competition on the dating app where users can win a trip to Thailand by swiping right when faced with the brand’s profile. With more late night trysts with sauce-covered hot chicken McNuggets than I care to mention, I’m confident for a match.

UK vlogger guidance issued following Kim Kardashian’s banned selfie
New guidelines have been issued in the UK to vloggers after claims have been made that influencers have been put under pressure to keep commercial partnerships a secret from their fans. The new rules outline exactly what you can and can’t do within the UK advertising code and will act at the go to guide to help vloggers push back on unreasonable requests.

Join our research & insight team

by Robert Wainman in News

We Are Social’s Research & Insight team in London is on the hunt for new talent, looking to recruit an R&I director and an R&I analyst. In this post we delve into the life of one of our senior analysts, Robert Wainman, providing an overview of what a typical week could look like within the R&I department. If you’re interested in joining the team, drop our recruiter Lauren Tibbetts an email.

Pizza, banking, sex and hashtags – sounds like a week in the life of someone working in research – right? Despite what you may think, working in research and insight is not all pie charts and excel spreadsheets, if you do it in the right place. I’ve been working in We Are Social’s R&I team for a couple of years now, and I can safely say that the only thing that’s a dead cert when I arrive in the morning is the quality of excellent jumpers on display around the R&I table.

This week, I’ve been working on a report for one of the biggest brands in UK banking, a new business pitch and a social conversation audit in the food industry. One paragraph into writing this blog and I’ve been pulled into a brainstorm for another food brand. New projects, pitches and client requests hit your inbox or skype chats, on a daily and sometimes hourly basis.

Everyone in the R&I team works on a combination of reports, projects and audits across our client base, so we have to get used to analysing content ranging from topics as broad as football to cars, entertainment to booze. We work closely with the client services, strategy and editorial teams, helping to identify what works best for each of their clients, presenting back our findings to determine what they should change and what they should do more of (and less of – e.g. hashtagging on Facebook – give it up, it’s pointless).

Every member of the R&I team also has the opportunity to do their own research for PR purposes too. Right now we’re looking at sex and airlines; not together, though that would be interesting. Previous pieces have covered reactions to the latest iPhone, or taking your favourite jumper (yes, them again – it’s a bit of a team theme) onto Newsnight to talk about the General Election, a la Paul ‘David’ Greenwood, senior R&I Director.

The thing I love most about social, aside from the opportunity to spend the day stalking on Facebook without getting fired, is that there’s always something new going on. In just a few years, I’ve seen new platforms emerge, some die and some succeed (I have my eye on Periscope at the moment). Every week there seems to be a new platform update (Facebook now supports GIFs!) or product launch (sponsored Instagram posts) – and it’s our job in R&I to make sure we’re capturing the impact of all of this, and feeding it back into our client strategies. It’s brilliant when you see the agency creating really amazing work that’s been inspired by social listening too, such as Netflix’s Spoiler Foiler campaign or SummerSOS for F&F.

Outside of the work stuff, we have football clubs, office yoga, chair massages, an annual ski trip (or Winter Conference, as I think we’re supposed to call it) as well as a load of parties both on a monthly and quarterly basis. I don’t think I should really go into any more detail on these in an agency blog post, suffice to say they are always good fun.

The roles we’re currently recruiting for in the R&I team at We Are Social require some experience, with the Analyst role focusing on day-to-day delivery of reports and insights, and the Director managing a team to disseminate strategic insight throughout the agency. But we’re not just looking for people who are great at excel and want to crunch numbers – the value our team provides is much deeper than that. Robust research underpins all our work at We Are Social, we provide our teams with an understanding of communities and their behaviour, both on and off line, with insights that inform everything from our strategic to our creative approach. So, if you want to be a crucial part of an agency that creates truly social ideas, this could be the job for you.

To join the Research & Insight team, get in touch with Lauren Tibbetts.

YouTube’s Summer in the City

by Katie Moore in News

OMG Selfies and deafening screams came from the Excel Center in London this weekend. Yes that’s right, YouTube sponsored event ‘Summer In The City’ has been and gone for another year, and what an event it was!

Summer in the City is the UK’s largest YouTube convention bringing together creators, fans and brands. This year saw over 10,000 YouTube fanatics queuing up over the weekend to meet some of their favourite British YouTube stars. Whilst waiting for their turn, fans could also get involved in an array of activities, from rides to live mic opportunities, or just catching up with friends or YouTube experts in the swanky beanbag area.

We Are Social has been working with YouTube this year to raise awareness of the event, with a focus on the ‘grande finale’ – the big photo opportunity that closes out the evening, where fans and YouTube stars gather together for the camera. It’s the ‘big social moment’ of the evening, and YouTube asked us to make it as talked about as possible on social channels. In order to gain maximum buzz, we took quite a traditional approach. Recognising that on the day people would be having too much fun to spend time looking at their phones for prompts, we created pocket-sized Call to Action cards, informing fans when and where they needed to be for the BIG pic, and of course reminding them of the event hashtag.

With 12,000 cards in the hands of fans and a social production team on site to capture the moment, we were ready. And it paid off – mentions of the event increased by +375% on the previous year, and the biggest spikes in conversation mentions online were mostly centered around the grand finale.

An awesome result, and we’re most definitely looking forward to the next one in 2016! To check out more of the event, simply follow the hashtag #YouTubeSitC.

Talking Sex, Tech & Social at SXSW 2016

by Robin Grant in News Google+

It feels like we’ve only just recovered from this year’s SXSW, and the festival jumps right back on our agenda. In 2015, I was lucky enough to see some incredible speakers, ranging from the useful, the inspirational and some (often the best of the bunch) who were just plain weird.

So, in a bid to join this esteemed line up at SXSW in 2016, we’ve put together some panel submissions covering everything from kids and tech to the future of sex, with a bit of social innovation in the middle. If you like what you see, please vote for our panels, share them and leave your feedback – we’d love to hear what you think.

Kids & Screen Time: Defining Tomorrow’s Leaders
Children born today will have spent a full year glued to screens before they reach the age of seven. They are learning to use smartphones and tablets even before they can talk. For them, the cinema is “the biggest iPad” they have ever seen. The debate of screen time vs play time is out of date. Mobiles, tablets, smartphones and consoles can be really helpful if used in the right place to help children learn.

In this panel, our Chief Strategy Officer Mobbie Nazir teams up with Dr Jim Taylor, world-renowned psychologist and author of the book ‘Raising Generation Tech’. Together, Mobbie and Jim will explore how kids’ increased access to online play is affecting their confidence, social awareness, relationship building and decision making; and how this is shaping the leadership skills of the future.

Visit the SXSW PanelPicker here to vote for this panel.

How We Got to Social
In his book ‘How We Got to Now: Six Innovations that Made the Modern World‘, Steven Johnson explains how the innovations that we use in our everyday lives stem from seemingly unrelated fields. For example, how did the invention of air conditioning allowed major migrations to previously inaccessible areas of the earth? And how did our battle against dirt help create the microchips in our smartphones and computers?

Our Managing Directors in Italy, Stefano, Ottavio and Gabriele will use this approach to explore the unexpected events that led to social technologies becoming an ingrained part of our lives and how this has affected our interpersonal relationships.

Visit the SXSW PanelPicker here to vote for this panel.

Sex, Social and the Future of Love
Each year, there are more than 250,000 conversations about sex on social in the UK alone. #aftersexselfies, Whisper confessions, saucy Snapchats, the rise of Tinder – social media is rife with sex. Or at least, that’s what we’ve been led to believe…

In this panel, We Are Social’s Marketing & Innovation Director Tom Ollerton teams up with Hannah Witton, a vlogger specialising in sexuality to bust some of the biggest sex and social myths. They’ll explain why a woman with a grapefruit is a more credible sexpert than any brand. And we explore why sex doesn’t always sell on social. You might even get your hands on some of the latest connected sex toys… surely that alone is worth a thumbs up.

Visit the SXSW PanelPicker here to vote for this panel – and you can check out Hannah’s TEDx talk and Tom’s sex and innovation podcast in the videos below, should you need any further persuasion.

Digital, Social & Mobile in China in 2015

by Simon Kemp in News

The latest report in our series of studies into Digital, Social & Mobile use around the world shows that the pace of digital adoption in China shows few signs of slowing.

You can read the full report in the SlideShare embed above (or download it here), but numbers don’t mean much on their own, so we’ll use this post to dig into the significance of the data and their associated trends for marketers.

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To get us started though, here are the key data headlines:

  • Internet Users: 668 million, a 6% year-on-year increase
  • Social Media Users: 659 million – more than the USA and Europe combined
  • Unique Mobile Users: 675 million, responsible for 1.3 billion mobile subscriptions
  • Mobile Internet Users: 594 million, accounting for 89% of all China’s internet users
  • Mobile Social Media Users: 574 million, up 15 million since this time last year

The year-on-year growth rates tell interesting stories too (note that the mobile figures in this slide represent the growth in mobile subscriptions, not unique users):

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We’ll examine each of these in detail in the sections below.

Internet in China
Roughly 100,000 people in China started using the internet every day over the past year – that’s more than one every second.

Much of this growth is being driven by improved mobile access, with close to 90% of the country’s netizens using mobile devices to access the internet. It’s worth noting that this is often in addition to PC-based usage too, but an increasing number of the country’s internet users are mobile-only, especially in rural areas.

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When it comes to the total volume of web traffic, PC-based access still dominates, with 56% of the web pages served to China’s netizens in the past month going to laptop or desktop computers. However, this figure is down 29% year-on-year, while the number of web page requests from mobile devices has jumped 136% to 42%.

These trends suggest that mobile usage will account for more than half of all China’s web activity by early 2016.

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Despite mobile’s promise of ubiquitous internet access, however, internet usage still isn’t evenly distributed in China, and a marked difference remains between urban and rural usage rates. Nearly two-thirds of China’s urban population now uses the internet every month, but barely 3 in 10 of China’s rural citizens are online:

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The good news is that connection speeds are up considerably on last year, with the average fixed-connection access speed up 17% year-on-year according to Akamai. It’s worth noting that the average mobile connection speed is considerably higher than that of fixed connections though, with the average connection in China now considered ‘broadband’ (i.e. 4Mbps or above).

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Social Media in China
The overall number of social media users in China grew more slowly than we expected over the past year, but this is more likely due to a change in behaviour, rather than a waning of interest in social media.

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It’s also worth noting that social media usage in China is already at a very high level, with the numbers suggesting that 99% of China’s internet community uses social media of some description.

The numbers for individual platforms tell the more interesting story though. QQ, Tencent’s ever-popular instant messaging service, still claims the country’s top position in terms of monthly active users (MAUs), and despite the vast majority of its users residing in China, it also claims the second-place spot in the worldwide rankings behind Facebook (click here to read more about the global picture).

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It’s worth noting that more people sign in to QQ via mobile devices each month than sign in to WeChat, but WeChat offers more varied services and functionality for both users and marketers.

User numbers suggest that QZone still dominates when it comes to traditional ‘social networking’, but WeChat (or Weixin, as it’s know in China) is quickly catching up, and is the platform that most users claim to use on a regular basis (note the difference between ‘use’ and ‘sign in’, the latter being the metric many of the platforms use to measure ‘active’ users).

For those who are still relatively unfamiliar with Chinese social media, Baidu Tieba may be a new discovery. Tieba, or “Post Bar” as the platform calls itself in its English literature, is a community that has grown up around specific areas of user interest related to the searches that people conduct on Baidu, China’s largest search engine.

Meanwhile, readers of our previous China reports (2013, 2014) will notice the absence of Tencent Weibo in this ranking. Tencent stopped publishing monthly active user figures for Tencent Weibo a number of months ago, and we have interpreted this to mean that the company has de-prioritised the platform in favour of its three larger ‘products’, QQ, Qzone and WeChat. Tencent Weibo appears to remain popular with many users though, with 38% of China’s internet users claiming to have used the platform in the past month (see below).

Research from GlobalWebIndex suggests that more than 6 in 10 internet users in China used WeChat in the past month. Sina Weibo comes in second, with 54% of survey respondents claiming to have used the service in the past 30 days.

It’s interesting to note that Facebook, Google+ and Twitter all appear in this list too; they may be officially ‘blocked’ by the Great Firewall, but GlobalWebIndex’s research suggest that a considerable number of China’s netizens are getting round these blocks to access non-Chinese social platforms.

social media users

87% of China’s social media users now access via mobile devices at some point each month, with platforms like WeChat helping to drive overall numbers up 77 million over the past 12 months – a year-on-year increase of 15% that equates to more than 200,000 new users every day, or almost 2.5 new users every second.

At 1 hour and 43 minutes per day, social media accounts for just under half of all the time that people spend online in China. The country’s social media users spend 23% longer using social media than they do watching TV each day, although it’s worth noting that much of this time overlaps, with many TV viewers engaging in ‘second-screen’ social media use at the same time.

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It’s worth noting that use of tablets appears to be down slightly year-on-year though, with 22% fewer web page requests coming from tablet devices in the past month compared to this time one month ago.

Mobile in China
With 675 million unique subscribers in China, almost half the country’s population now owns a mobile phone, and we fully expect to see the country pass this milestone before the end of 2015.

The number of mobile subscriptions in China rose significantly in 2014 too, with three new subscribers every second contributing to annual growth of 94 million – an 8% year-on-year increase.

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The number of mobile subscriptions in China is now very close to the number of people living in the country, which suggest that the average user still maintains close to 2 active connections.

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However, we expect that this ratio will reduce over the coming months as more and more people upgrade from feature phones to smartphones; the main reason why individuals operate more than one mobile contract is to benefit from intra-network deals, but data-powered communications such as chat apps and VOIP are more efficient and effective ways of achieving the same benefits.

Smartphones are clearly the must-have devices in China today, accounting for 90% of new handset sales. They already account for just less than two-thirds of all handsets in active use, and we expect their overall share to increase steadily over the coming months as more people renew their devices.

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When it comes to internet-powered activities on mobile devices, Chinese netizens appear to be particularly interested in checking the weather.

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China’s mobile users also appear to have embraced m-commerce, with reports suggesting that 20% of the country’s population have made a recent online purchase via their mobile device.

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E-Commerce in China
E-commerce more generally appears to be thriving in China, with almost one in three internet users buying online each month.

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The country’s consumer e-commerce market was worth more than a quarter of a trillion US dollars in the six months to June 2015, with the year’s biggest shopping event – Singles Day – still to come. Sales on Alibaba’s various sites exceeded US$9 billion in just one day last November, and there’s every chance that number will pass $10 billion on 11th November this year.

Conclusions
So what does all this mean for brands? Here are our three key tips, designed specifically for non-Chinese marketers looking to make sense of the world’s largest consumer market:

China’s Different: it’s obvious that the platforms that dominate in China are markedly different to those that marketers are familiar with elsewhere – even those in their Asian neighbours. However, it’s not just the platforms that are different; the ways that Chinese netizens use social channels is also markedly different, and marketers need to carefully adapt their approaches for China’s cultural and societal idiosyncrasies as much as for its technological differences. One size does not fit all when it comes to China, and marketers would do well to engage the expertise of a partner who understands the ‘how’ as well as the ‘what’.

1-to-1 Social: The numbers in this year’s report highlight the growing popularity of chat apps – a trend that we’ve seen elsewhere in the world too. The growing popularity of chat apps presents a new set of opportunities for marketers, as many of the conversations that take place on these platforms are more private in nature, taking place between individuals and small groups (versus the public environments that Western marketers will know from Facebook and Twitter). In order to take advantage of the ‘intimate’ nature of these one-to-one conversations, however, marketers will need to explore new approaches to social media and content marketing, ensuring that the tactics they employ make it easy for audiences to find and consume content on one platform (e.g. video-sharing services like Youku or Tudou), and then share that content proactively via chat apps. This will require greater emphasis on highly engaging content and organic sharing, rather than an approach that relies on paid media to push mediocre content to the masses.

Social Selling: China’s netizens are already very comfortable buying things online, whether that’s through their PCs or via their mobile devices. The next big opportunity for marketers is to understand how the dynamics of social referral work in China, and use that to move from social engagement to social conversion.

If you’d like tailored advice on what these tips mean specifically for your brand, get in touch with our team in one of our 10 offices around the world for more information.

We’d like to offer our special thanks to GlobalWebIndex for allowing us to use their data in this report. We’d also like to thank CNNIC, Ericsson, GSMA Intelligence, StatCounter and Akamai for the public data they share that makes these reports possible. For more details on data sources, please see the full report.

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