It’s a Social World
It’s a Social World
Remember the quaint little ride at Disney…”It’s a Small World”? Well, today we are learning that indeed, the world is a bit smaller than we may have ever imagined thanks in part, to social media. In the past society seemed constrained by geographic boundaries, language barriers and the sheer number of people between “here and there”. Of course, big business and social media consultants have long ago realized the vast potential of social media to bring people from all corners of the globe together but small business owners have been a bit slower to adapt. Many are just beginning to learn how to interact with clients via a new format while others are already reaching out to emerging markets and forging business partnerships that would have been impossible just a few years ago. In fact, social media reaches over 80 percent of the world’s internet population…an estimated 1.2 Billion users around the world representing the #1 most popular online activity. An impressive feat when you realize that nearly one out of every five minutes spent online is now via a social network.
One thing is certain – it is a social world and growing more interconnected by the day. Take for instance the recent IPO filing for Facebook. Not only has this very young (seven years old) social media company made global headlines but it has literally taken the world by storm by becoming one of the premier websites in nation after nation. For instance, Facebook has recently taken over Orkut as the number one social media destination in Brazil with a gain of just under 24 million viewers in the past year alone. But as impressive as the number one destination is, it pales in comparison to the amount of time Brazilian users spend on Facebook; in the past year, the average amount of time went from an impressive 37 minutes to a mind-boggling 5 hours!
Emerging Social Markets
Clearly Brazil loves Facebook but until just a few months ago, the nation was one of the few in which Facebook did not dominate the social media sphere by taking second place to Orkut, the prior leader in Brazil. This brings us to the second trend; the phenomenal growth taking place in both social media and specifically…Facebook… throughout the world.
One of the listed “threats” to the upcoming Facebook IPO is lack of global growth but in reality, some of the fastest growing markets for Facebook include nations where the social media giant was not in a primary position. So, what is the status of these markets? Well according to recent research, Facebook’s fastest growing markets read a lot like horse racing statistics as it gains a leadership position in nation after nation. The current fastest growing markets include:
- South Korea
- India Indonesia
Nations highlighted above indicate a market where Facebook has recently taken the lead including Vietnam, Brazil and the Netherlands. Experts predict Japan, South Korea, Russian and Poland may join the ranks sometime in 2012 swelling the social media giant to unprecedented levels. Part of the appeal is the very thing that sets social media apart from all other forms of communication…it truly transcends cultural differences while reflecting the very values which strengthen ties. It is this dual nature which makes social media marketing so effective yet non-threatening. It is a trend likely to continue into the distant future as many emerging markets have full access to cell phones rather than desktop computing; an equalizer which is just reaching a point of exponential growth here in the United States.
But what other trends can you expect from a socially connected globe? Well, in addition to the growth of mobile and further expansion of social media sites like Facebook, local network and niche venues are anticipated to make inroads. Rather than increasing the number of people online, experts agree many of these gains will be in the total usage patterns of current users. Many markets such as the United States and Canada already have the majority of online users connected to a social network. For instance, 94% of Canadian users and 98% of American users belong to one or more social networks. Other highly connected nations include Argentina (96%), Israel (94%) and Australia (96%).
Distribution Patterns Around the Globe
The number of social networkers around the world is not evenly distributed…and the results might just surprise you! Because of the sheer number of people, 1/3 of the worlds social network is centered in Asia Pacific. Europe comes in second with 30%, North America with 18%, Latin America at 10% and the Middle East/Africa at only 9%. However, despite having a smaller percentage of users, Latin America tends to spend the most time interacting via social network with an overall 28% of all online time spent on a social network site. Asia Pacific spends the least amount of time at “only” 11%. On a per user basis, this breaks down to an average of 7.6 hours per person for Latin America versus 2.9 hours per person in Asia Pacific. It’s also not limited to young people; everyone of every age is included. Last but not least, women tend to be the dominate social networkers throughout the world. Surprisingly, despite cultural differences this pattern holds true in every major market and across every major social networking platform including Facebook, Twitter and local niche sites.