Social Media by the Numbers and by Feel

Social Media by the Numbers and by Feel

Let’s take a moment to consider just how pervasive social media and particularly Facebook has become for Internet users. An April 2009 study by Harris Interactive revealed that 48 percent of all American adults had either a Facebook or a MySpace account. It took Facebook eight months to go from 100 million to 200 million users. Contrast that to the growth of the United States—it took the good ol’ USA 52 years to go from 100 million to 200 million inhabitants! If Facebook were a country, it would be the fourth most populous country in the world ahead of Brazil, Japan, and the populations of Germany, France, and Spain combined.

But these aren’t just casual users. According to Nielsen Online, people spent 13.9 billion minutes on Facebook in April 2009, up from 1.7 billion in April 2008 for a stunning annual growth rate of 699 percent. In terms of usage, this makes social networking the third most popular computing activity now, ahead of using e-mail. Facebook reaches an estimated 29.9 percent of the global Internet user community. It has clearly become a mainstream phenomenon and the numbers are sure to get bigger from here.

The rise of social media has coincided with a decline in consumer use of traditional media. Social media usage numbers are up while newspaper circulations are down. In many cities, the number of social media users surpassed the stated circulation of venerable newspapers in 2008. eMarketer reports that Internet users consumed far less traditional media in 2008 than in 2006. It’s safe to say that today, people get far more news, information, and commentary from their friends than from traditional media.

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Companies fought to get a presence on consumers’ desktops. The late 1990s were dominated by the portals such as MSN, Excite, and Yahoo!, where eyeballs were most concentrated. We talked earlier in this chapter about Google and how it created a center of gravity for the Web that captured consumer attention and marketing dollars. Today, many people start their day not by going to google.com, but rather by logging into Facebook.

What Social Media in 2022 Tells Us about the Future of Marketing

So what does all this mean for marketing in 2022 and beyond? The biggest change in marketing has been the shift from “push marketing” to more of a conversation with customers. In the past, companies were limited to communicating directly with us through radio and television commercials, print advertising, billboards, and other “old media” ways of marketing. But somewhere along the way, we got cynical. We realized that our friends and colleagues were probably more honest about products and services than the self-interested companies that marketed to us. So we started listening to our friends and social networks more and traditional advertising less.

At the same time, technology has marched forward relentlessly. TiVo and digital video recorders made it easy for us to bypass and ignore commercials on live television. MP3 players helped us listen to music and podcasts on demand, which similarly marginalized radio advertising. Online retailers realized that they could increase sales by allowing visitors to their site to offer personal recommendations about products they were selling. And, of course, the social media industry was very successful. So how should we frame our thinking when setting the stage for marketing plans today? Five years from now? And how should the long-term strategy be structured to give social media a competitive advantage? Allow me to suggest five broad themes that I think will define social media and marketing for years to come:

A Few Thoughts Regarding Consumer Engagement

Finally, you’re going to have to think deeply about how customers will interact with your company or brand on social media. Put a different way, you have to remember that consumers aren’t necessarily eager or ready to buy from you at all times. So while you may be interested in promoting an offer or a product, doing so over and over again is likely to alienate your customer base.

Lastly comment

There is a fine line between informing and annoying your customers—make sure you are providing value to your community through social media. Be thoughtful and informative with everything you share on social media. When someone chooses to become a fan or follower of your company, it’s a privilege and not a right!

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