Important Findings about Social Media around the World in 2012

InSitesConsulting recently released a report of the status of social media in 2012 with more than 2.000 facts & figures about social media in 19 countries. In this blog post, I will guide you through the 5 main conclusions of the report and add some final remarks on what to extract from the findings.

 

 

  1. The social media landscape is quite stable: The large sites are getting larger and the small ones are getting smaller with the awareness level of Facebook close to 100%. People are not looking to join a new network, but want to stay on their current social platforms and are only prepared to create new accounts for sites, which offer unique functions, such as Pinterest and Instagram. However, users show a very high interest in joining these unique sites in the future.
  2. Mobile is the perfect accelerator for social media adoption and usage: 51% of internet users are smartphone owners and social network apps are the most popular ones.
  3. Consumers connect and interact with a limited set of brands: Consumers are fond of connecting with brands, and despite the frequent attention on social media storms and crises generated because of negative comments on social media, consumers are more positive than one might think: More than half of the comments concerning brands are positive and less than 10% are negative.
  4. Consumers reach out to brands:  80-90% of consumers want to be involved in co-creation, open innovation and structural collaboration with brands they love. All they ask in return is for the brands to give feedback on what they plan to do with the input. Brands are not yet sufficiently receptive to the fact that “Consumers are probably the most effective consultants you can hire.”
  5. There is an opportunity for brands to optimise conversation potential with consumers through structural collaboration between consumers and brands to take social media to the next level. Consumers are major fans of market research communities and after Facebook, a research community is the second most preferred platform – consumers want their feedback to have an impact.

See the full SlideShare report here:

Social Media around the World 2012 by InSites Consulting

Implications

So, what can you conclude from the findings? The average social media user today has integrated one or two platforms into their everyday lives and has structured this landscape in a way that is not likely to change in the near future. Facebook is still the dominating platform and is therefore also an obvious choice for many brands, as this is the place where their potential and current costumers spend so much time. However, there are some very unique platforms out there such as Instagram and Pinterest . They have a very loyal and passionate user base, which brands shouldn’t ignore. Brands shouldn’t apply Facebook as their only platform merely because this is where most people are – especially not brands with a strong visual identity as well as brands targeting first-movers. They should instead be preparing for an Instagram or Pinterest presence, if they are not already there. It is crucial to pick the social platform that is right for your target group and to have a clearly defined strategy for your social media activities. Whether it’s a single or multi-platform strategy, it is crucial to be absolutely clear about what your purpose is and who your target group is.

Be open to co-creation, and don’t forget that this means a more equal power distribution to the companies and the consumers. Asking consumers for their opinion doesn’t mean that you are obliged to go through with their suggestions. But be transparent and stay in dialogue with the users, and most importantly, give them what they ask for: Feedback about what you do with the info they provide and how you plan to proceed.

 

Get Ready for the Bots – on Facebook Messenger

2Facebook Messenger was released 5 years ago and now has over 900 million users. Originally receiving a flood of negativity towards a standalone messaging app, compared to one simple Facebook app, users seem to be warming to it. The decision to make it standalone does make a lot of sense, since messaging is a big part of people’s lives nowadays and Facebook even bought the domain messenger.com to launch a version for web browsers last year. Their 900 million users will more than likely be merged with Whatsapp’s 1 billion users, which means that Facebook will have the personal phone number of every single user – sounds like $19 billion well spent.

 

Open for Business

So that’s humans covered. Where to go next? Facebook is now venturing into their next Messenger-based project: bots. If you haven’t been keeping up, Facebook launched Messenger Platform last month, which holds within it, chatterbots. Luckily, these bots are not machine learning bots, such as the disaster that was Microsoft’s Tay. They do have some humorous replies if provoked but they ultimately steer the conversation back to the subject they’re designed to cater for. Thanks to their highly advanced Send/Receive API, these bots are able to reply with actual structured messages, including links, images, hotel reservations, the weather etc. You may immediately compare this to Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, Google Now and Amazon Echo, but what sets bots on Messenger apart is the fact that businesses can develop them, which in turn gives them another way to develop customer service. Simply put, bots could end up changing the world by replacing humans in such job sectors. Without the bespoke customer service integration that Messenger bots provide, the above voice-activated services will most likely not be able to solve business-related queries themselves. Having said that, the way bots behave is very reminiscent of the way Siri does. Maybe they’ll talk to each other one day and we’ll get the best of both.

 

Customer Service and Added Value

So how can these bots work for brands? Well, eventually, every major company in the world will have an account, which will be a first port of call when contacting their company. The reason this is almost definite is due to Facebook’s already-mammoth-sized network of users. It doesn’t get any bigger than Facebook when advertising to individual people, so connecting Messenger bots (as customer sales reps, for example) is extremely attractive. Messenger codes, one of many things taken from Snapchat, will also make it easier for businesses to connect with their customers. One industry example is how bots will almost certainly change how banking works for the consumer, replacing an app or web-based system with a dialogue with a machine that is able to understand your every need. The option to send money within Messenger itself is highly likely too, like Snapchat allows. This could also eliminate the hassle of speaking to a bank’s voice recognition system when calling by telephone – no more time (and money) wasted by the dreaded “I didn’t catch that. Please try again.” These voice recognition systems are essentially bots done badly, but they’re based on voice, which is a lot more difficult to translate into zeros and ones. Plus, you cannot autocorrect your voice (yet). I can see this whole system being replaced by bots – it could even connect you to a human advisor with ease, as you’re most likely already using your phone. Even if you’re using the desktop version or Facebook Chat, I’m sure they’ll figure something out. Besides banks, what other markets will benefit from this? Restaurants, travel and possibly supermarkets with online shopping services are big industries for it to thrive. The healthcare industry could also be a large portion – Healthtap have already created their bot, which isn’t surprising considering one of the first ever chatterbots was called DOCTOR and simulated a psychotherapist. In fact, the potential amount of markets are endless for this stream of interaction – just like it is with human customer service.

 

At the end of the day, customers are moving towards messaging as their preferred choice of customer service. And as generations progress, it will no doubt become the standard – a phone call will most likely be reserved for long, meaningful conversations with friends and family, which in turn will add even more meaning to them. The phone call will no longer be taken for granted, but talking to robots will be.