If you're looking for more evidence that social media needs to be part of any communication plan, consider that social media is mainstream for more than 90 percent of all Americans. In fact, according to Forrester Research, four in five Americans use a social media platform at least once a month. More than half gravitate to services like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.
The Big Picture, By The Numbers
According to Forrester Research, adults over the age of 34 increased their participation in social networks by more than 60 percent. Older audiences have also adopted social media, with 70 percent of online adults ages 55 and older using social media tools at least once a month (26 percent use social networks and 12 percent create social content). Here are more numbers to reinforce the Forrester survey...
• As reported by USA Today, 250 million people are now members of Facebook, spending 13.9 billion minutes on the social network.
• About 30 million Facebook members already access social networks through mobile devices. ad:tech estimates mobile marketing is expected to grow over $24 billion worldwide in 2013 from $1.8 billion in 2007.
• According to comScore, Twitter users spend 66 percent more dollars on the Internet than non-Twitter users. They invested 300 million minutes on the site in April.
• LinkedIn has more than 365,000 company profiles. More than 12 million small business professionals are members of LinkedIn.
• More than 1 million small businesses and individuals promote their goods and services on MySpace. This is despite its steady decline in usage.
• The fastest-growing segment on the Internet is over 35, representing more purchasing power than any single traditional medium can deliver on its own. Even television is being outpaced by the Internet in terms of time invested, which is why most networks are migrating online.
Digital Media, By The Numbers
According to comScore, 158 million U.S. Internet users watched online video during this month, making it the largest viewing audience to date. More than 21.4 billion videos were viewed.
• 81 percent of the total U.S. Internet audience viewed online video.
• The average online video viewer watched 500 minutes of video, or 8.3 hours.
• 120.3 million viewers watched 8.9 billion videos on YouTube.com (74.1 videos per viewer).
• 48.2 million viewers watched 518.6 million videos on MySpace.com (10.8 videos per viewer).
What It Means For Businesses
Forrester Research has been a long-time proponent of integrated marketing approaches, conducting several studies that indicate traditional media's broken business model and fragmented audiences have disrupted traditional strategies. But beyond typically measured growth trends — numbers of members and time spent online — there are several key trends companies will have to consider as they integrate social media into the mix. Here are five:
• The average person will only follow or support a finite number of products and companies, making the social media program just as important as the product. People do not want constant updates as much as they want added value and original content.
• While the largest services — Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace — are current darlings, several social networks have sparked and then sputtered as policies change, services change, and companies are bought out. The social media space is constantly changing, making long-term strategy more important than short-term tactics.
• The chances that customers will seek out companies, products, or services on social networks is remarkably slim. Agencies and public relations firms that attempt to bill friends and followers as the ultimate measure are short-selling clients as many people join groups or follow companies and promptly ignore them. Measurement doesn't end with a connection.
• Media-Internet convergence means an increased need to consider mobile marketing. With new portable products coming online in the months ahead from Apple and others attempting to follow them, every company ought to be thinking about digital content not based on singular devices (phones, computers, etc.), but based on scalability and portability.
• Companies that engage people online have already seen an average increase in revenue by 18 percent, while those that did not saw a decline in revenue by 6 percent over the last year. Eventually, companies that ignore social media tools will fade away, much like those that didn't adopt the telephone years and years ago.