Social media is where the consumer is

1 Jul 2010 by Randall Helms, No Comments »

As I have been doing my research I have been repeatedly struck by the sheer speed at which social media is becoming central to so many people’s lives. This shift comes at the expense of both traditional media (like television and radio) and other web destinations, like search engines, and it is a trend that is happening remarkably quickly. Indeed, so fast is this change that it is now more important than ever for marketers to figure out what works in the social media space, because that is where the consumer is going. Relying on the old models is no longer sufficient.

If only a few years ago social networks were primarily used for gossip and voyeuristically ogling the pictures of people you haven’t seen in a very long time, increasingly it is where people turn to for entertainment, news, and product advice.

A few examples of the new media landscape that is developing before our eyes:

Social networks are now the most popular web destinations in the UK

Social networks now receive more UK Internet visits than search engines. During May, social networks accounted for 11.88% of UK Internet visits and search engines accounted for 11.33%. May was the first ever month that social networks have been more popular than search engines in the UK.

Facebook accounts for 55% of all UK social networking visits, almost three times as many as the next most popular social network, YouTube. Twitter, one of the fastest growing and most talked about websites of the last two years, is now the third most popular social network in the UK, putting it ahead of former favourites such as Bebo and MySpace.

Although television viewing is exploding globally, this trend is occurring at the same time as tv watching habits are changing in the developed nations:

Close to a quarter of the younger respondents to a new study say that most of the video content they watch is online. And a sizable chunk of those polled said that if cable and satellite TV prices keep going up, they’re going to cut the cord …

In response to the question, “How much TV do you currently watch on the Internet/online?”, almost a quarter (23 percent) of the survey’s respondents under 25 answered “most,” another 6 percent answered “all,” and 54 percent answered “some.” That means that over four-fifths of this cohort of slightly more than 1,000 people do a fair-to-huge amount of their TV watching on the ‘Net …

But the stat that will doubtless draw the attention of cable executives and policy makers was that 15 percent of those surveyed said that “higher cable and satellite prices would drive them to watch all of their TV shows online.” Another 26 percent say they are thinking about dropping their satellite service or have actually cancelled.

Advertisers are following the action, with Facebook now the largest publisher of display ads in the United States:

Facebook has overtaken Yahoo to become the top publisher of display ads online in the US, according to ComScore.

Facebook delivered 176.3bn display ads to US users in the first three months of 2010, a 16.2% market share, more than double its share a year ago.

This shift can also be seen on the mobile internet, where American users spend half their time on social networking sites:

While the popularity of mobile social networking is widely believed, this is the first time we have been able to truly quantify just how much the category is driving adoption of the Mobile Internet with actual usage metrics … The disparity of time spent between social networking and the next category, portals, which account for 59.83 and 13.65 percent of time spent respectively, is a vivid illustration of the impact social networking has on Mobile Internet traffic in a given week.

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