2013’s Social Media Trends

2013 is coming to an end, and Social Media stats from around the Internet are rolling in! Many social sites saw impressive number gains this year, and the statistics make for very valuable marketing tools when planning for 2014. I have gathered what I think are some of the most important facts and put them into an infographic for all of you to reference.

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2012’s Social Media Trends

2012 was a big year for Social Media – we saw some venues flourish, some flounder, and some explode with news distribution. It’s important for us to look at such statistics whether we’re seasoned Internet analysts or average users, so that we can stay on top of these fast-changing sites. Which were stars and what trends stood out the most? Let’s find out!

Statistics

facebookAccording to Huffington Post, in 2012 a staggering 1 million websites integrated Facebook as part of their Social Media stash. Even better for businesses, 80% of Facebook users prefered connecting with their favorite brands through Facebook and 23% of them checked their feeds five or more times a day, widening the door to better communication and more efficient customer service. [source]

twitterHuffpost also saw some interesting numbers for Twitter which marketers should consider. A sizable 56% of Tweets from consumers to businesses were ignored, and while it can be impossible for larger companies to answer every message, it is indicative of how Twitter can fail as a customer service tool with users getting lost in the shuffle.  [source]

google_plusGoogle+ had some good and bad results from 2012, because while websites using that +1 button saw a 350% increase in traffic, a hefty 70% of users want to learn more about Google+ with only 40% actually using it. This tells us that many marketers don’t yet see the value of Google+, or that the sharing site itself isn’t quite user-friendly enough for companies. In terms of average consumption it fared very well; 625,000 people joined Google+ every day and the +1 button is hit 5 million times per day! [source]

instagramInstagram saw booming growth, though they didn’t end 2012 with a bang. Traffic increased by 724% for this popular photo sharing service, and in 2012 an average of 5 million photos were uploaded every 24 hours, with 575 Likes and 81 comments every second. The most popular hash-tags according to Huffpost were #Love, #Instagood, #Me, #TBT, and #Cute, which indicate an overall positive environment for users.  [source]

pinterestInterestingly for Pinterest, 80% of pins were repins which tells us that users spent more time on their feeds than on other sites looking for things to pin to their boards. We also learned that 50% of Pinterest users have children and 80% of them are women, which greatly defines the audience for businesses. Considering 57% of pins are food related, Pinterest would make an excellent tool for companies that are food-driven and speak to young mothers in 2013! [source]

Trends

Looking back at 2012 for Twitter, they’ve packaged their trends and hot topics for us to review. The top two ‘Golden Tweets‘ came from President Obama Tweeting “Four More Years” during the 2012 Presidential Election, and from Justin Bieber Tweeting “RIP Avalanna. i love you” about a six year old fan who passed away from a rare illness. What makes them ‘Golden Tweets’ according to Twitter? They were the most re-tweeted messages of the entire year. The biggest conversations on Twitter, or the ‘Pulse of the Planet‘, were about the Summer Olympics, the Presidential Election, Superstorm Sandy, and much more – generated from the most Tweets, Re-Tweets, and general discussions. Twitter also has a neat set of events that they’ve coined ‘Only on Twitter‘, with unique events such as “Live, from Mars” in which NASA live-tweeted Curiosity’s adventure to Mars, and the London Olympics Live Pool Camera that gave users a rare view of the swimmers from below.

Twitter has also neatly presented their biggest hash-tag trends and categorized them into various topics such as Conversation Starters, Politics, Sports, and TV. In similar categories, their ‘New Voices‘ page lists the most popular newcomers to Twitter from television, sports, film, and more – with convenient Follow buttons for easy one-click connecting. Finally, Twitter partnered with Vizify.com to give you a personal look at your 2012 year on Twitter. Simply visit their site, download the app, log in, and voi la – you’ll receive a “stunning graphical bio that shows the best of you.”

Facebook has a less comprehensive 2012 review, but they still nicely display various categories and topics that trended heavily this past year. Showcasing memes, events, songs, movies, check-ins, books, politics, and more, clicking on a specific topic will show you the Facebook rank for different trends – all very similar to Twitter’s hottest trends. You can also see trends from all over the world, peeking into different cultures and comparing what was most talked about across the globe. Perhaps the most interesting aspect is their built-in ‘Your Year in Review‘ feature that, with one click, will show you your 20 biggest moments based on comments, Likes, photographs, and events. It’s much simpler to access than Twitter’s application, and more visually heavy, which some users prefer. Once you’ve had a look, you can hit the Share button and let all of your friends see what you were up to in 2012.

Googles Zeitgeist 2012 encompasses everything that was searched for using Google for 2012. Hot trending topics and searches were for Whitney Houston, Gangnam Style, Hurricane Sandy, One Direction, iPhone 5, Michael Phelps, the Olympics, and much more. Google, like Twitter and Facebook, neatly packaged these trends into various categories and ranked the most popular topics within. Because venues like Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook can be sources of news that often pique interest and send users to search engines for more information, we can use Google as a highly informative window into the most interesting topics of 2012.

Summary

Overall what were the memorable trends across all sharing sites? The Election, the Olympics, Whitney Houston’s death, and Superstorm Sandy were some of 2012’s biggest hitters. It was a year like years past; driven by social and political movements, entertainment shockers and events, sports and world news – though it was unique in Social Media consumption and some sharing sites surprised us when they pulled ahead of the pack. You may wonder why you should pay attention to these trends and statistics when the year is dead and gone. The answer is quite simple – before you can be a Social Media Marketer, you have to be a Social Media lover, so look back at your own trends and the world’s sharing habits from 2012. These are the very patterns that will drive you and your organization through Social Media in 2013!

Key Elements of Social Media Strategy – Free Marketing Template!

[Download link to my free Social Media Marketing plan is at the end of this blog post!]

Social Media Marketing strategies are important to any organization looking to grow their audience online. There are some key factors that must be considered when making your marketing strategy if you want things to run smoothly, especially if you’ll be working with a team of other gurus

line_chartFirst you must come up with some objectives for your Social Media growth. Think about what goals you want your company to reach by establishing and nourishing an online presence. Are you aiming to create a solid space for customer service, are you strictly looking for a way to interact with your consumers, do you want to gain more attention for your brand, or are you looking to do all of the above? It’s important to have a clear set of goals in mind before continuing with your plan.

The next key step is defining your audience. Do some research to determine which groups you will be targeting with your Social Media messages; young women who are into video games, parents over the age of fifty, or even as broad as ‘college students’, to give a few examples. Such information can be gathered by studying user_groupsimilar brands and their audiences, or building your Social Media pages and watching closely with data analyzing tools like Facebook Insights and PeerIndex. Once you have groups targeted as your key audiences think about their specific objectives, as different groups will respond to your marketing messages in different ways.

You’re almost ready to start thinking about how you’ll build your presence online! Consider the ways you can integrate Social Media into your website, and how you’re going to deliver your messages. Will you use e-mail marketing campaigns, attend events in person, or put Social Sharing buttons on your website? Will you create an online forum where your audience can gather, or will you present your website on other forums and message boards? You also want to consider which Social Media venues are going to best suit your website. Facebook and Twitter are a staple in Social Media plans for all companies, though your audience may also fit well with Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, or YouTube. Choose venues that will fit your pre-defined audience and be confident in why you’re picking them selectively.

Once you have you platforms chosen you should decide what tools you’re going to use to deliver these messages and monitor data. Hootsuite and Tweetdeck are popular choices, but which is best for your brand? You should also consider whether you’ll use the web versions of these applications, or if you’ll be downloading desktop versions and purchasing upgrades so that you have more options. Take the time to hammer out what roles your fellow team members will be have, too, so that each person has clearly defined responsibilities in your marketing plan.

graphNext, consider how often you’ll be checking the data for your various Social Media accounts, what you’ll use to gather said data, and then what you’ll do with the information. Will you have weekly, monthly, or yearly check-ins to see if your messages are being properly delivered to your audiences? Will you use Google Analytics, Klout, Facebook Insights, or a combination of the above? And finally, what will you do to make sure any negative data can be changed to positive data in the future? Try to summarize ideas for the ways you may be able to alter your marketing plan in the future, if your data isn’t coming out the way you’d like it to.

Once you have everything in a neat package, I suggest creating a marketing plan timeline and outlining any major goals you have for your company’s Social Media presence. For example, if you’d like to see a solid amount of participation on your Facebook page within six months, or double your Twitter followers within a year, note those objectives in your timeline so you have clear goals to reach.

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An excellent way to end your marketing plan is with a brief summary of your well-defined plans, tactics, goals, and implementations. You can also touch upon any budget restrictions you may have, as some Social Media tools can involve recurring payments made for upgraded plans. Even if you over-estimate what you’ll need for your budget, it’s a good idea to have all potential expenses written in your plan so that nobody is broadsided by costs.

In closing, you can download my Social Media Marketing Plan template for free and use it to craft your own long-term strategy with all of the elements mentioned in this blog post. Good luck and have fun!

If you like my free marketing plan template, please return the favor and give @Omnomedia a follow on Twitter!

Nielsen’s 2012 Social Media Report Is In!

Nielsen’s annual Social Media Report is in, and from it we can gather some very interesting facts about Social Marketing trends from his past year. Diving right into the statistics laid out in their pleasing infographics we can see that mobile apps are taking a step towards the front, with users increasing their app usages by 76% when compared to last year’s numbers. Computer-based usage is still heaviest, though – likely attributed to how very buggy those apps can be.

As for the top Social Networks, unsurprisingly Facebook took the lead by far in terms of unique visitors on personal computers. More surprising is that Blogger came in second, with Twitter and WordPress not far behind. Following them were Linkedin, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, Myspace, and Wikia – in that order. Twitter, WordPress, Google+, Tumblr, and Wikia all saw positive growth in users, with Pinterest seeing a 1,047% increase [Source]. For this reason Nielsen chose to spotlight Pinterest in their review.

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Pinterest is fast becoming a Social Media powerhouse, having seen sharp increases in usage in just this past year alone [Source]. While the Pinterest audience is heavily split with far more females than males using their service, the median age of use is early 20’s to mid 30’s and predominately white by race. Because of these statistics marketers have a very specific audience on Pinterest which they can tap into, and with a very high total for minutes spent on the website they’ve got an excellent attention span to grab hold of.

Nielsen made sure to point out that Twitter is taking a lead role in mixing Social Media with television. More and more users are watching TV while using their mobile devices to access their favorite programs, commenting and discussing these shows on Twitter with friends and family. The number of users Tweeting about television grew almost steadily month to month, from 26% in January 2012 to 33% in June 2012 [Source].

Advertising and Social Media customer service from online companies saw interesting numbers this year, too. According to Nielson 47% of Social Networking users tapped into the Social Care offered by websites, and one in every three users preferred to contact companies this way instead of by phone [Source]. Although 33% of 09Social Media users found Social Networking advertisements to be more annoying than others, over a quarter of users will still pay attention to them – especially on Facebook. Nielsen found that ‘Social Likes’ and shared ads greatly increase brands’ visibilities online.  What are consumers using brand and company pages for? 70% of consumers listen to the experiences of others on Social Sharing sites, 65% use the sites for learning more about brands, products, and services, and 53% compliment the brands. Half of users complain or leave comments of concern, while 47% discuss monetary incentives [Source].

Some more interesting facts came up in Nielsen’s report that are definitely worth taking note of. While personal computers lead for how users are connecting to Social Media sites, mobile phones, tablets, and other handheld devices follow suit. In terms of why people connect with others through these sites, the most popular reasons simply come down to knowing their fellow users in real life and wanting to keep in touch with them. Where are they connecting most? Humorously, young adults aged 18 to 24 are using Social Media in the bathroom, while adults aged 25 to 34 are mainly using it in the office [Source]. Finally, 76% of users had an overall positive experience using Social Networking sites this past year, which is what we Social Media gurus love to hear!

In summary, personal computers still reign and Facebook is the King of Social Networking all around, but smaller underdog sites and mobile apps are certainly beginning their climb to the top. Compared to the numbers Nielsen reported in 2011, these statistics are not straying from the overall trend that we’ve been seeing for Social Media. It will continue to grow year by year and become the ultimate resource for consumerism, advertising, and media networking.

All images and statistics taken from Nielsen’s 2012 Social Media Report

The Internet’s Election – How Our 2012 Candidates Use Social Media

There is no arguing that we live in a time where the Internet and Social Sharing are taking over how we communicate and how we advertise. With a rather large election date looming and two very outspoken candidates battling for votes, President Obama and Mitt Romney have both taken to Twitter and to Facebook in order to increase their reach. But are they effective?

It’s nearly impossible to log onto any popular Social Media venue today, and not see a friend sharing something about the upcoming election. The majority of Internet users are of Generations X and Y, ranging from age 18 to 42, with an even split between Male and Female. While it’s very true that the older Baby Boomers are starting to use the Internet, it’s quite clear that Social Sharing sites are held in the grasps of younger adults.

How loud of a Social Media voice do these candidates have?

Comparing the size of each candidate’s Social Media presence, we can gauge user following and overall reach to get a better sense of which candidate is best utilizing Social Sharing and how many users and fans they are actually reaching through their various pages.

Governor Romney rounds out his Internet presence using;

While President Obama’s list is longer with;

Arguably, Twitter and Facebook are the two most popular Social Sharing tools today and these two candidates are certainly using them rabidly. President Obama’s Twitter ‘team’, consisting of his personal account, Vice President Biden’s account, First Lady Michelle Obama’s account, the Forward Obama2012 account, and the Truth Team account are well-stocked with upwards of 23,700,000 followers combined. On top of that impressive stash of Twitter pages, his Social Media team has organized state-specific Obama accounts so that his supporters can follow news pertaining to his campaign strictly involved with their area. Mitt Romney’s overall Twitter campaign presence is not as easy to find from his website. Clicking the link to Twitter takes you just to his account, whereas President Obama’s link to Twitter lists several places to find his campaign’s various pages. Through the occasional ‘Follow Our Team’ Tweet, we can see the various accounts associated with Mitt Romney; his personal page, the Romney Response team, Paul Ryan’s personal account, a Team Romney account, and a handful of other advisors and campaign leaders for a total upwards of 1,880,000 Followers combined.

Looking at their Facebook pages, today President Obama has 31,250,792 Likes while Mitt Romney has 10,475,115 Likes. Though the President has had surplus opportunity to harvest such Social Media attention, Facebook is an incredibly powerful tool for these two candidates. Their posts to Facebook have the potential to reach millions of ‘Friends of Fans’ whenever someone hits the Share button, and the posts themselves act as forums for open discussion on hot topics. So, not only are supporters sharing the messages of the candidates, but they are sharing the positive and negative responses from each side, of varying age ranges. We can see these reactions in consistent amounts based on post topics; each side has their share of negative comments, which tend to spark heated debates. While for companies using Facebook such debates could promote a negative image, for candidates it is important to have an open venue that welcomes discussion.

Users of Tumblr may be split fairly evenly between male and female, but the majority of users are aged 18 to 49 [source] which makes Tumblr a prime source of young adults who openly share their passions and beliefs. Tumblr is growing in popularity outside of the election, but if we look at the candidates’ pages we can see some differences. While the Tumblr accounts are aesthetically similar with simple layouts and clear messages, President Obama’s Tumblr page has far more participation that Mitt Romney’s Tumblr page, which we can tell based on the number of re-blogged posts. President Obama’s Tumblr is more frequently updated by the hour, while Mitt Romney’s tends to skip a couple of days here and there. On top of that minor difference, Obama’s Tumblr posts made by his Social Media team will see anywhere from 300 notes to over 10,000 notes, whereas Mitt Romney’s Tumblr posts average anywhere from 30 notes to 500 notes. While ‘notes’ themselves are a total number of both Likes and Shares in the Tumblrsphere, they are indicative of a page’s overall popularity and of the value of the messages being delivered.

Google+ is a venue that, though it immediately created a buzz when first released, has lost some interest due to users seeing it as a lack-luster version of Facebook. Both Presidential candidates seem to understand the importance of reaching users via Google+ because, with a high rate of middle-aged males using G+, they have a unique internet audience to tap into. So what are the numbers? Currently Mitt Romney has +994,869 fans on his Google+ page, and President Obama has a whopping +2,249,932 fans, giving the President an edge on delivering Social Media to his young, male demographic. G+ can also provide more interconnected sharing as it deals with personal circles, making the user feel directly connected to each candidate through family and friends with similar interests. It seems that with Obama’s higher number of ‘circles’ on G+, his Social team better understands this idea of interconnectivity.

One surprising tool used by President Obama and not by Mitt Romney is PinterestPresident Obama’s Social Media team is making excellent use of Pinterest, with categories like ‘Just the Facts‘, ‘The First Family‘, and ‘Snacks of the campaign trail‘ full of photos that go out to over 35,000 followers but not updated very often. On top of that, Michelle Obama’s team has a Pinterest page, as do a couple of pro-Obama states. With a demographic of about 70% Female with 50% of users having children [source], Pinterest is an excellent way for the candidates appeal to young, working mothers. While Mitt Romney does not appear to have an official Pinterest page, he does have several pro-Romney Pinterest support pages with around 2,000 Followers. Because Pinterest’s network grew 4,000% in just the past six months [source], it is an invaluably popular image sharing tool that could be better used in this election.

YouTube is being used to it’s fullest potential, by both candidates. President Obama’s 253,407,036 video views on top of his 247,866 subscribers equate to impressive online marketing opportunities. Mitt Romney’s 27,528,384 video views and 25,786 subscribers don’t quite stack up but still leave an impact in terms of viral video sharing. While YouTube sees over 2 billion video views per day, and has 70% of traffic coming from outside of the United States [source], it may not be the best resource to gauge Social media impact on an election win, but it is still a decent indication of online popularity. Through the simplicity of sharing videos, candidates have an open window with which they can air their positive and negative advertisements to billions of Internet users every single day.

Does it really matter to the election, in the end?

The impact of Social Media on advertising has become massively apparent in recent years. It is estimated by Nielsen that, of the 245 million Internet users in the United States, Social Media venues are utilized by 80% of them [source]. Because the purpose of Social Sharing is not simply to put information out there but to take information in, this means that companies and important figures have an enormous audience to reach online via Social Media venues.

As the Baby Boomer generation begins to meld in with Generations X and Y, using the Internet to keep in touch with family and friends and share interests, Presidential candidates can shift some attention from traditional advertising mediums like television, radio, and print to reach a new, incredibly receptive audience. These Social Media users, young and old, are influenced by what they see being shared from friends and family and are thus vulnerable to persuasion. I believe that in this election, more so than any election we’ve seen yet, Social Sharing and the way candidates are using such tools, will have a vast impact on young voters.

Clearly, President Obama is winning this Internet Election when number of Followers are tallied across the board. This doesn’t mean he has the young internet-based vote in the bag, but it does mean that his ability to create Socially Viral posts across numerous venues is far more advanced than Mitt Romney’s. Recognizing that it can take time to build these pages up and that President Obama has already had many years to do so, it is important that any candidates who would like to run for President in the coming years begin harvesting their online presence today, so that they may reap the Social Sharing benefits when the time comes.