Truth Is Just Perception

2011, The Year Social Media Achieved Power Over The World

The absolute domination of social media on the Internet reflects a societal revolution and calls for a marketing insurgency.

The latest report from comScore, a firm specialized in analyzing digital trends, reflects the profound changes underway on the web.

Social networks are used by 82% of the world population connected to the Internet, or 1.2 billion people. They spend one out of five minutes online interacting on social networks (compared with only 6% in 2007).

(CC) comScore

Facebook continues to carve out the lion’s share among social networks. The site is used by 55% of the world population connected to the Internet. Furthermore, it consumes three out of four minutes dedicated by these people to social networks and one out of seven minutes they spend online. Last but not least, according to another report just released by Hitwise, Facebook was in 2011 the most visited website in the world and, for the third consecutive year, the most requested word on search engines. “Facebook” accounted for 3.1% of all searches on the web this year, a 46% increase compared with 2010.

Among Mark Zuckerberg’s competitors, microblogging site Twitter grew by 59% this year and now has 160 million unique visitors monthly. Professional social network LinkedIn grew by 55% with nearly 100 million unique visitors. Simplified blogging site Tumblr increased 172% with 40 million unique visitors.

Perhaps more interestingly, social networking is now a truly global phenomenon both geographically and sociologically. 80% of Facebook and Twitter users live outside North America and the use of social media is equivalent across all age groups – the over 55 years growing the fastest. The rate of use of Facebook and its competitors is now 84% among 15-24 year olds and 80% for over 55 years!

Finally, contrary to popular belief, women spend more time than men on social networks (+30% in North America and Europe for example). But men are starting to catch up.

These results reflect, in my opinion, a societal revolution: We are experiencing the voluntary end to privacy. People are now willing to share a volume of personal information that it would have been unthinkable for them to put in the public arena a few years ago. Sharing with family and friends is the first application of social networks, the one that is now adopted by the general public worldwide. But comScore’s report indicates that the second application – sharing around common interests and beyond one’s circle of family and friends – is now growing within the general public.

Faced with the omnipotence of social networks on the Internet, the marketing community must go through a real insurgency. This community hasn’t fully comprehended the social revolution and hasn’t yet integrated in its investment mix (in particular for advertising) the fact that consumers have shifted from traditional media to the web. While consumers now shift from web 1.0 to web 2.0, it is time for all brands, whatever the industry in which they operate, to impose a social treatment to themselves in order to not become irrelevant to their customers.

The crisis of the press is definitely not over…

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