We’re already helping adidas, Heinz, Unilever, Heineken, eBay, Jaguar, Intel, Moët & Chandon & Expedia.
A study by GlobalWebIndex examined the behaviours of Google+ users worldwide, and found that the platform’s popularity is growing. This year, 54% of online adults were found to have a Google+ account, up from 44% in 2012.
The report also found that Google+ users are likely to be active on other social networks; almost three quarters regularly use Facebook and almost half use Twitter each month.
Fast growth markets Indonesia and India have the most Google+ users – over a third of each country’s online population. The UK and Australia fall way behind, with just 12% and 14% of online adults using the network.
The number of unique mobile phone users around the world has just passed 50% of the world’s total population.
The usage figures – provided by GSMA Intelligence – suggest that 100 million more people started using a mobile device since April of this year.
To put those figures in context, that’s more than 750,000 new mobile users every day – or 9 new users every second.
Changing Usage Patterns
Meanwhile, the average mobile user still maintains roughly 2 active contracts per phone, with the total number of active mobile connections almost equal to the number of people living on earth.
The average of 1.97 connections per user indicates a slight drop since April though, when the figure was 1.99.
This fall may in part be fuelled by an increasing move to smartphones; as more people gain access to mobile data plans and start to use ‘chat apps’ like WhatsApp and WeChat, the need to maintain multiple mobile contracts across different networks in order to benefit from cost efficiencies will diminish:
On that note, it’s worth noting that smartphone adoption is continuing apace; Ericsson reports that more than one-third of all active mobile contracts now run on smartphones, while smart devices accounted for 65% of the 300 million new handset sold between April and June of this year.
Critically, this 300 million figure – when compared to the growth in overall mobile users outlined above – suggests that many existing mobile users are upgrading to smart devices.
However, more than 4.6 billion mobile connections around the world still run on more basic, ‘feature phone’ handsets.
Connecting On The Go
Despite the continued dominance of feature phones though, the use of data-powered services is becoming more widespread: in the past quarter, Ericsson report that mobile broadband subscriptions exceeded 2.4 billion, while more than 1.5 billion social media users around the world accessed their accounts via mobile devices in the past 30 days:
For more data on Mobile, Social and Digital usage, see our full range of free reports.
Yes, we know what you’re thinking: women’s wardrobes are filled to the brim with gorgeous clothes, so why would they ever have any style dilemmas – right?
Wrong! During the summer months every day can potentially pose a styling dilemma to the fashion-savvy community, with users actively seeking fashion advice, tips and asking the one big question – “what do I wear…?”
This year, we worked with fast-fashion retailer F&F to tap into this natural audience behaviour to try and solve the nation’s summer style dilemmas, live, during a one-day Twitter takeover.
F&F teamed up with fashion expert, Angela Buttolph, to create a cross-platform campaign that would build F&F’s fashion credibility while shining a spotlight on their SS14 collection, to make it the go-to range for every occasion this summer.
To build excitement and awareness of the live event, we created and seeded out a teaser video to introduce the event and explain how to get involved, which was also supported in F&F emails and on their Inspire Me website.
After much anticipation, Tuesday 8th July finally arrived and our team, together with a professional model and Angela Buttolph, sprung into action. From the early hours of the day, the F&F community were gripped, sending in a wide variety of summer styling questions – from mums to nuns, fashion bloggers to fashion savvy shoppers; the variety of questions were endless!
To get involved in the event, users simply had to tweet their summer styling dilemma with #SummerSOS for their chance to not only get a personalised Vine or photographed image, but also to receive a £50 voucher to win their outfit.
— F&F (@FandFclothing) July 8, 2014
We produced a real time catwalk on which we filmed the personalised Vines that were received very positively by our community and other well-known fashion influencers. The best Vines were also promoted to outside of our community to garner further awareness of the live event.
Here are some of our favourites from the day…
The day was a huge success, with 4,500 entries using the #SummerSOS hashtag, and a sales uplift of 108% on featured products, with many lines selling out completely.
Check out our behind the scenes video to find out everything that went on to ensure the day ran smoothly:
Facebook’s new ad unit is the event of the week
We hope you’re ready for a new Facebook ad unit. That’s right, event ads are no longer confined to the right hand bar on desktop – you can now see them in the News Feed and on mobile. They’re set to look similar to event invitations from a friend, and can be used not just for events but also time related promotions – for example, a discounted brunch invite. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s a set of insights showing how many people have seen an event. We’re spoilt. Here’s how the ads will look:
Facebook targets adverts by signal strength
Facebook ads can now be targeted based on the strength of a mobile signal. It’s a nice move, because it means if you can target data heavy ads, like video, to those on 4G and text posts to those on low bandwidth connections, especially useful in developing markets.
Twitter opens analytics to all
Twitter has made its analytics dashboard, launched in July, available to everybody on the network. Here’s how it looks if you’re as influential as I am:
For others, it’s more like this:
Google removes Authorship from search results
Once upon a time, you could link your Google+ profile to your site, and the authorship of your words would appear in Google search results, alongside a profile picture and G+ follower count. Those days are no more – after gradually reducing what showed up in results, Google has now removed Authorship from search results entirely. Forbes has speculated on what this means for the future of G+; one of the principal draws of an account has been its impact on search – if this goes, what remains of the platform? To this, it’s worth pointing out that the link between G+ and search isn’t completely broken. The search engine will continue to show G+ posts from friends and pages, when they’re relevant to your query.
Snapchat gets $10bn valuation, rolls out “Our Story”
It’s all go at casa del Snapchat. The startup has received another $20m of funding, leaving its valuation at a healthy $10bn. The investment is based on monthly active user figures of 100 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. The money is being pumped back into the app, too – the “Our Story” feature is being rolled out to everyone. Trialled in June this year, it allows users to create and view public collections of photos and videos from a specific event, be it Electric Daisy Carnival, as below, or something where Tiësto is nowhere to be seen.
adidas creates Instagram game
adidas Polska has launched what it’s calling the world’s first Instagram game, in which fans have to follow a set of hidden clues to ‘like’ certain images in the correct order. The overall winner will bag themselves a pair of predator boots, with branded balls for runners up.
Walkers turns bus stops into Twitter-powered vending machines
Walkers crisps (that’s chips, for our Stateside readers) is making three London bus stops into Twitter-powered vending machines for its ‘Do Us A Flavour’ campaign. Bystanders are encouraged to send a tweet to @Walkers_busstop in exchange for a packet of crisps. The team at Double Decker must be kicking themselves.
Everybody loves Hyperlapse
Hyperlapse is barely a week old and brands are already getting involved in a big way. Here are some examples from Bud Light, Burton Snowboard, Footlocker, Cosmopolitan and (everybody’s favourite) our London office.
The ice bucket challenge is quite popular
Not sure if you’ve heard, but there’s an ‘ice bucket challenge’ thing happening on Facebook right about now. It looks like it’s going to be the biggest online charity campaign ever, as our data in the Huffington Post shows. The hashtag #icebucketchallenge has received over 4.48m mentions, over 20 times the number seen by #nomakeupselfie. There have been over 2m videos on YouTube, too, including a number by brands. Below you can see the efforts by Old Spice and the Pillsbury Doughboy.
More than 2 billion people around the world used social media in the past 30 days, and these numbers are still growing at an impressive rate:
This connected, vocal audience presents huge opportunities that marketers won’t want to miss, but social success requires a different approach in different countries and cultures around the world.
So how can marketers get global social ‘right’?
The answer lies in the 6Cs of Social.
There are hundreds of different social networks around the world, all built around different needs, interests, and technological functions.
All these platforms have one thing in common, though: conversation.
Without conversation, social media aren’t social, and for brands in social, it’s the conversation that really matters.
Conversations enable brands to become more engaging, allowing them to evolve beyond a straightforward product or service.
But managing a ‘regional’ conversation in Asia poses a number of challenges.
In Asia-Pacific alone, people speak more than 2,000 languages.
Even if your audience understands English, they may not be comfortable – or happy – conversing in it.
When it comes to social conversations, people prefer to speak the language that best allows them to express themselves.
Even when they do speak the same language though, there are invariably many different ways of speaking it – from the nuances of everyday slang to our constantly evolving ‘social’ vocabularies (think ‘LOL’).
The key is to remember that successful communication isn’t determined by what you say; it’s determined by what other people understand.
Recommendation: spend some time listening to your audience’s conversations in social media, and adopt a style that makes it easy for them to converse with you.
Humans are a highly diverse bunch, and this diversity can add significant complexity to the process of developing a unified global approach.
Firstly, people follow a wide variety of religions, each of which may impact how a brand needs to behave in social media.
Marketers will need to keep track of myriad religious festivals and celebrations, while attitudes towards things such as alcohol, styles of dress, and even colours may vary dramatically from one culture to another.
Similarly, many Asian cultures are guided by the concept of 面子 – ‘face’ as it is commonly known in English – and as a result, they may exhibit less ‘social volume’ than their Western peers.
Consequently, it may be more difficult to achieve high levels of audience interaction, which can impact organic reach and engagement.
Recommendation: make sure that your content development teams and community managers truly understand the culture of the people you’re trying to engage.
3. Content Neutrality
Qzone and Facebook still command the greatest number of active social networking users in the world, but most social media users are active across multiple platforms:
China’s Tencent is responsible for 3 of the world’s top 5 most active social platforms – clear evidence that social media users adopt multiple channels at once.
Chat apps like WeChat (Weixin), Whatsapp, LINE and Kakaotalk have exploded in popularity in recent months, while platforms like Weibo, Twitter and Instagram continue to grow too:
As a result, it’s important for brands to avoid putting all their eggs in one basket.
Marketers need to create content that audiences will be able to transfer from one platform to the other, allowing people to continue the conversation on their own terms with their different networks.
This approach will also help to avoid relying too heavily on platform-specific audiences.
Social media users are quick to adopt new platforms, and marketers may find that the ‘likes’ or ‘followers’ they build in one platform quickly become irrelevant as audiences move on to the newest network or app.
Recommendation: build communities around passions, not audience on platforms.
4. Country Needs
What does your brand need to do in order to succeed?
It’s unlikely that the answer to this question will involve the same set of challenges and opportunities in each market, so you’ll need to develop an approach that can adapt to your varying local needs.
Much of this relates to the audience context in each market – for example, how much they know about the brand, or the specific place it holds and role it plays in the local landscape.
Do you need to educate people, or just reinforce what they already know? Can you already harness ‘cultural equity’ like community in-jokes or evocative imagery?
You’ll also need to adapt your content and conversational approach to your brand’s specific needs for things like new launches or environmental factors (e.g. product shortages).
Don’t forget that local legislation may have a significant impact on your activities too. Many countries have strict laws governing aspects such as product claims, competitions, or even whether certain products (e.g. alcohol) can be overtly marketed.
Recommendation: even if you’re aiming for a global or regional approach, ensure that it’s flexible enough that it can adapt to a variety of local needs.
Social media is increasingly a mobile-first experience. Almost 80% of Facebook’s users access the service via mobile devices, whilst almost all 438 million users of WeChat – China’s hottest social platform – are mobile-only.
This mobility presents some great opportunities for marketers, whether it’s connecting with people when they’re actually using a brand, when they’re at the point of sale, or when they’re out socialising with friends.
However, the mobile context differs considerably from one country to the next, and mobile diversity isn’t without its challenges.
Firstly, data connections remain slow across much of the developing world, with barely one-quarter of Asia’s 1.8 billion mobile users able to access 3G networks.
Meanwhile, more than 80% of Asia’s 4 billion active mobile connections are pre-paid (versus 27% in the US and 42% in the UK), meaning that the cost of mobile data – and therefore of mobile internet access – is still an important challenge.
As a result, marketers need to build carefully balanced content plans. High-definition video may deliver the ‘optimum experience’, but video streams or downloads will be too slow and too expensive for the average mobile user in countries like India or the Philippines, so be sure to incorporate simpler, static content too.
Slow connection speeds mean brands need to deliver immediate value too; if the audience has any doubts about the relevance or utility of a brand’s post, they will scroll straight past it before the content even has a chance to load.
Recommendation: make sure all your content is tailored for a mobile-dominated consumption experience.
If you do need to take a global or regional approach to social media, avoid categorising your audience by country.
Instead, look for the interests, motivations and attitudes that the people you want to engage have in common, and use these commonalities to define your audience.
People are drawn to others whom they feel affinity for, and when it comes to the borderless internet, this affinity is far more dependent on passion than it is on place.
Recommendation: define your audience around their shared motivations, not their nationality.
A version of this post first appeared in my column on The Marketing Society’s blog.