Here are all of the posts tagged ‘stats’.
So, here’s the big one, does spending on social media really pay back? A fresh MBA graduate from MIT, Niki Gomez, passing through London and We Are Social on her way to Mumbai, gives her views.
At last, a study quantifies what many of us felt must be true, that social media does translate into increased sales. As Violette mentioned last week, a study by Wetpaint and Charlene Li’s Altimeter Group shows an extremely strong correlation between engaging in different social media and earning higher revenues. The study looks at the engagement of top 100 brands from the 2008 BusinessWeek/Interbrand Best Global Brands report and ranks them from 1 to 127, based on how they use social media channels. It finds that the top brands with their rankings in brackets are:
- Starbucks (127)
- Dell (123)
- eBay (115)
- Google (105)
- Microsoft (103)
- Thomson Reuters (101)
- Nike (100)
- Amazon (88)
- SAP (86)
- Tie – Yahoo!/Intel (85)
The most engaged brands experienced revenue growth in 2008 of 18% whilst the least engaged brands experienced losses of negative 6% over the same period.
Also interesting is that only arguably half of these are internet companies. The study categorizes the brands, a la Malcolm Gladwell, into mavens, those heavily engaging in 7 or more channels, such as Starbucks and Dell; butterflies, such as American Express and Hyundai who engage with seven channels but with less engagement; selectives who engage in six or less but do some on a deep level such as H&M and Philips; wallflowers like BP and McDonalds who engage with six or less but with a light touch. My question was whether social media pays off because of lower marketing spend, as there is a shift from spending on more traditional channels. However it seems, revenues, actual sales are up on previous years, even boom times!
Their findings conclude that it is not how many social media channels you use, but how deep that engagement is: so being social pays, but it’s the quality rather than quantity of these conversations that seems to triumph yet again. So, please think before you tweet… a good piece of advice for brands and individuals alike.
With all the talk of teenagers’ online habits in the news, we got our most knowledgeable man in to blog on the matter. 17 year old Adam Bernstein is an A-level student currently on work experience with We Are Social, and here are his thoughts.
The trouble is, as another teenager – admittedly a slightly older one – Robson’s arguments do not hold true. There is much value in Robson’s report – it does provide an interesting insight into how one particular teenager consumes media. But there is a danger in taking isolated examples and extrapolating them to be indicative of society.
Robson’s report is supposed to be focussed on the teen market, yet too often he ignores important economic & social factors. For example, the argument that teenagers don’t buy newspapers because they’re too expensive is an interesting one. But this argument is based on one assumption which underscores Robson’s entire report: teenagers are independent of their parents. But this simply isn’t the case – most people I know who do read a newspaper read it because it’s in the house. Teenagers probably wouldn’t pay 80p a day for a newspaper but it’s not an issue because in many cases they don’t have to.
If Robson wanted to know the real reason teenagers don’t read newspapers, it is more about content. Teenagers will consistently have their lifestyle treated with derision in the papers; but how often will a viable alternative be offered? With the continual damning of teens in the papers, it’s no wonder teenagers don’t read them.
But it was Robson’s claims about Twitter which were the most ignorant: “Twitter is pointless to teens” screamed the headlines. It’s true to say that teens (on the whole) don’t use Twitter but his fixation on the costs of texting missed a crucial point: only 5% of Tweets are made via SMS – the success of applications such as Tweetdeck and Twitterfox show how it is really used.
The reality is that teens don’t use Twitter because of demographics: to make a broad – and somewhat unfair – generalisation, teenagers use Facebook, whereas Twitter is used by older people. Essentially, teens follow other teens so it’s inevitable that most of the age-group stays away from Twitter. Twitter’s relevance to the younger market is diminished because many perceive a ‘tweet’ as being the same as a Facebook Status Update – they don’t see the need for both.
Robson’s report is useful for the many truths it does contain: Teenagers doing all they can to avoid advertising is an important point which the ad companies will be trying hard to counteract. But Robson’s suggestion that teenagers are motivated above all by cost is a spurious one: teenage consumption of media probably does have something to do with money; but most teens don’t have a full-time job, many are in full-time education and are supported by their parents – it is they who pay for everything so his argument that costs are the most important thing to teens is wrong.
But, as Suw Charman-Anderson notes, the main problem with Robson’s report is that he thinks his experiences are emblematic of teenagers as a whole. The reality is that there is much greater diversity in the teen market than Robson suggests. Teenagers are an eclectic bunch – and Robson would do well to remember this.
Update: I’ve just come across an interesting report by Forrester about this exact topic (for those interested in US rather than UK data, there’s also a good presentation from the Pew Internet & American Life Project and Nielsen’s recent How Teens Use Media report). Robson’s argument that all teenagers are always listening to music, particularly free online music, is kicked into touch:
With its findings suggesting socio-economic factors are unimportant in how teenagers consume media, Robson’s arguments that costs are the primary factor in deciding what teens do is shown to be false.
But what is most interesting for companies is that teenagers are using social media for the same reasons as the population as a whole. Possibly this means they don’t need tailored advertising; more probably, it means that in time teenagers will drift over to Twitter – Facebook was originally intended for Harvard University students yet is now used worldwide.
Having said all of this, the accuracy of the report does have to be considered – speaking to 261 13-19 year olds and making assumptions that this data covers society as a whole is questionable. But at least it’s more accurate than Robson’s report which was simply the findings of one person.
Nielsen’s latest Global Online Consumer Survey confirms that people trust other people more than they trust advertising. As Jonathan Carson explains on the Nielsen blog:
The explosion in Consumer Generated Media over the last couple of years means consumers’ reliance on word of mouth in the decision-making process, either from people they know or online consumers they don’t, has increased significantly.
It’s not surprising that people trust the opinions of people they already know – it’s why word of mouth marketing is so powerful. But as the graph below shows, the trust in online word of mouth is significant. Globally, 70% of people trust consumer opinions posted online, and the same proportion trust a brand’s own website.
Good news for those who are investing in websites? Well, when you consider the ways that sites often try to drive traffic, you’ll notice these types of activity appear very low down the list.
It’s quite striking that online word of mouth acheives much higher trust than all other online-specifc activity. Opt-in emails (also known as ‘bacn’) are only trusted by just over half of us, and only one third of people trusting online banner advertising – though average click-through rates (0.1% in the US according to Doubleclick) indicate how successful they are at delivering people to their intended destination.
We’ve been building websites that allow consumer opinions to be posted (also known as blogs!) for some of our clients, as well as helping to increase online conversations about them, so we’re pleased to see even more evidence from Nielsen that this is a valuable thing to do.
Twitter has been the fastest growing major website in the UK over the last 12 months, and certainly the most talked about. The noticeable thing about Twitter’s growth is that the vast majority of it – 93% in fact – has occurred during 2009. If anything, the service is even more popular than our numbers imply, as we are only measuring traffic to the main Twitter website. If people accessing their Twitter accounts via mobile phones and third party applications were included, the numbers could be even higher.
He goes on to look in detail at where traffic from Twitter goes, pointing out that 55.9% is sent to content-driven online media sites, such as social networks, blogs, and news and entertainment websites – a very different profile to Google for example.
On the same day, the Guardian’s Charles Arthur penned this:
Blogging is dying. Actually, no, let me qualify that. The long tail of blogging is dying. I say this with confidence [...] Where is everybody? Anecdotally and experimentally, they’ve all gone to Facebook, and especially Twitter.
He backs this up with evidence of his own – which I have to say matches my intuition into what is happening:
More and more of the feeds I follow [haven't been updated for 2 months]. Why? Because blogging isn’t easy. More precisely, other things are easier – and it’s to easier things that people are turning. Facebook’s success is built on the ease of doing everything in one place. (Search tools can’t index it to see who’s talking about what, which may be a benefit or a failing.) Twitter offers instant content and reaction. Writing a blog post is a lot harder than posting a status update, putting a funny link on someone’s Wall, or tweeting. People are still reading blogs, and other content. But for the creation of amateur content, their heyday for the wider population has, I think, already passed. The short head of blogging thrives. Its long tail, though, has lapsed into desuetude.
So what does this mean for brands? Well, as Charles points out, people are still reading blogs and we would have always have recommended talking to those in the short head (which is still pretty massive compared to the relative scarcity of conventional media) – i.e. those having engaging conversations with the large communities following them. It’s also essential to remember that unlike the transient nature of Twitter and the great walled garden of Facebook, blog posts are effectively conversations that are eternally visible through Google, meaning they have more inherent value to brands.
The fact to note here is that some of the creators (in Forrester’s terms) have moved from blogging to creation in other forms of social media, and this should not be ignored. Your social media strategy should never rest on blogs alone (just as it shouldn’t on any other part of social media) – you should be experimenting with Twitter, Facebook and other channels – and your strategy should be driven by your business objectives, where your target audience spends their time and where you can be most effective.
The key to having a successful Twitter presence is to engage the community. Twitter is a great viral marketing channel, and for many users the aim is to have their story ‘retweeted’ – i.e. passed on by other users – as many times as possible. Although all of the newspapers have multiple ‘official’ feeds, these tend to be bland and have very low ‘retweet’ rates. Where journalists themselves are ‘tweeting’ themselves and engaging with the Twitter community, they typically have more success in creating viral stories.
Although we’d probably put it differently, we agree. Success with Twitter, like the rest of social media, is not about mechanistically shouting at strangers, it’s about being human – making friends and having conversations with them.
eMarketer have released a new report, “UK Social Media: Joining the Conversation” which is a useful compendium of the latest stats on social media usage in the UK, along with some spot-on commentary and advice from the author of the report, Karin von Abrams:
No commercial enterprise can afford to ignore social media
As part of her research for the report, Karin conducted an interview with me which she’s been kind enough to let me publish here:
The latest Nielsen report’s “Global Faces and Networked Places” highlights social media as the global consumer phenomenon of 2008: two-thirds of the world’s internet population now visit a social network or a blogging site and social media accounts for 10% of the overall internet time. So much so that social media has now overtaken personal emails as the 4th more popular activity online.
In December 2008, out of every 11 minutes spent online globally, 1 minute was spent within social media (1 minute out of 6 in the UK!). And we’re not just talking about students sharing photos of their parties on Facebook. As social media is becoming more mainstream, the average age of users is also shifting: one third of the Facebook audience is now within the 35-49 years old bracket and one-fourth is over 40. It’s also nice to hear that although Germany arrived quite late to the social media party, they’re now catching up with their European counterparts – good timing for our German website!
As the time spent interacting in social media is growing, the share of time held by other sectors is diminishing and so is the effectiveness of traditional online advertising.
The report rightfully points out that:
Advertising must be a conversation rather than a push-model. The point that social networks members are co-creators of content [...] means advertising should be about participating in a relevant conversation with consumers rather than simply pushing ads on them. After all it is social media. Advertising shouldn’t be about interrupting or invading the social network, it should be part of this conversation.
He also had this to say:
UK Internet visits to Twitter have increased 6-fold since the start of the year and 32-fold over the last 12 months. Last week, Twitter was the 50th most visited website in the UK, and the 5th most popular social networking site. To put that figure in context, last week Twitter received more UK Internet visits than the Daily Mail, RightMove, MSN UK Search, Directgov, and all retail websites with the exception of eBay, Amazon UK, Play.com and Argos.
I should also add the usual caveat: the service is probably even more popular than our numbers imply, as we are only measuring traffic to the main Twitter website. If the people accessing their Twitter accounts via mobile phones and third party applications were included, the numbers would be even higher.
I’ve not much more to add – Twitter’s meteoric rise continues (as does that of social media in general), brands need to take notice. Period.