It’s only been 10 years but it feels like a lifetime.
Twitter has been around for a decade. I joined in 2008 and had no clue about what to do with it or where it was going but loved its simplicity. Somehow it worked.
Then I signed up to every new social media network that appeared. Pinterest looked promising, Instagram was exciting and Google+ was put on the map. But it didn’t deliver.
It was my new sand pit. Playing was compulsory and being serious was optional.
Today Snapchat is a social media upstart that has emerged late in the game. It resonated at first with teenagers and its disappearing photos that the grownups dismissed as a passing fad. But it’s shaking up the status quo. We are now are just starting to grasp its potential.
The reality is that the social media marketplace is continuing to mature. It’s also hard to know what will work and what won’t. As marketers we need to keep throwing mud at the wall and see what sticks. Sometimes we are surprised.
The wild west of free social networks and apps, cheap marketing tools and few rules is evolving into a grownup industry. It has some big implications for business, users and the the web. And the social media facts keep changing.
It is powering how we play, work and market. The reality is that it has just begun.
How does a new industry grow up?
The maturing of any industry has some common historical trends. Here are 3 that come to mind.
Any fast growing industry explodes onto the scene with a myriad of start-ups and then the game gets serious. The fastest growing companies with cash start buying strategic startups that allow them to accelerate and dominate an industry without having to build it themselves.
Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion, WhatsApp for $19 billion and the virtual reality startup Occulus Rift for $2 billion. Linkedin also bought Slideshare then Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $26.2 billion.
Building it yourself even when you have bucketloads of cash doesn’t always work. Google’s failed $550 million Google+ startup is evidence of that.
Where does this stop?
It won’t. But don’t expect that Microsoft buying Linkedin will make it better. News Ltd bought MySpace and we know how that ended. With a bit of luck Microsoft will leave LinkedIn alone like Facebook has done with Instagram.
Applications that are a singular focus like Periscope with video live streaming are often introduced as a feature on a bigger platform.
It doesn’t mean they will do it well because often there is lack of focus.
But “Facebook live” is looking like it has some real potential to slow the Periscopes and the Meerkats of this world.
Open to closed
Tim Wiu (a professor from Columbia University) has some sobering insights on the patterns of the great information empires of the 20th century in his book “Master Switch – The Rise and fall of Information Empires“.
“Each major new medium, from telephone to satellite television, has crested on a wave of similar idealistic optimism, before succumbing to the inevitable undertow of industrial consolidation. Every once free and open technology has, in time, become centralized and closed; as corporate power has taken control of the ‘master switch.‘
The open range free for all that is a new communication industry often becomes a walled and controlled garden.
Does our current euphoria and the unfolding events in the social media industry in the 21st century sound familiar?
Where’s social going?
Even as social starts to consolidate there are some trends and exciting product directions that are emerging. Here are three that I find the most interesting.
1. Streaming live video
Streaming live video broke into our consciousness in early 2015 with Meerkat becoming a hot property until Twitter cut off its access to its API and launched its competing Periscope app after buying the company.
Now we are seeing the rise of “Facebook Live”, and even Tumblr teaming up with YouTube to support live video on its service.
There are also some exciting startups that are including live video streaming in its feature sets. One of these is the video marketing platform Twentythree.net
2. Short lived content
Snapchat has caught many marketers flat footed as a marketing channel. Its high engagement metrics are starting to be noticed. Some insights on this: 35% of Facebook users upload photos every day while on Snapchat its 65%.
But the real power of engagement that brings users back everyday to Snapchat is its disappearing videos, images and messages.
Even Facebook has seen the future here and is about to launch a Snapchat style disappearing messages feature.
3. Virtual reality, social and mobile intersect
Virtual reality is still a promise and has been buried in the gaming niche. It’s now bubbling into the mainstream as the major social networks and media players start experimenting and launching hardware and apps.
But the explosion of the mobile app Pokemon Go has launched virtual reality into mainstream media press.
In just over 1 month since its launch it is creating some serious attention. Daily time spent by users is exceeding even Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter
This may see the start of virtual reality moving from niche to mainstream. Facebook has already seen this future with its purchase of the virtual reality company Occulus Rift over 2 years ago.
So what is the current state of social media? Here are some social media facts to ponder.
Social media facts from 10 different networks
Every now and then it’s worth looking at the current facts, cast our thoughts back to the past and ponder the future. Here are the latest facts that I could find about 10 of the top social media networks that as entrepreneurs. business owners and marketers we need to consider.
Snapchat was launched in September 2011 after Evan Spiegel presented it as class project at Stanford University while studying product design. It’s initial working title was “Picaboo” and was based on the concept of using images that were explicitly short-lived.
- There are over 100 million active daily users
- Snapchat users watch over 6 billion videos daily (remember they are only 10 seconds in length)
- 8,796 photos are shared every second
- 30% of media planners, agencies and brands plan to include Snapchat in their Super Bowl campaigns
- 65% of Snapchat users upload photos every day
- 76% of millennials use Snapchat
Facebook has been with us since February 2004. It’s current valuation is $350 billion. It may become the world’s first trillion dollar company.
- Facebook users now total 1.65 billion monthly users
- 823 million mobile only users
- Net income for first quarter 2016 was $1.51 billion
- Facebook’s current market value is $321 billion
- It so far has spent over $25 billion buying competitors (Including Instagram, WhatsApp and the virtual reality company Occulus)
- 83% of parents on Facebook are friends with their children on Facebook
- Facebook adds half a million new users every day
- 47% of all Internet users are on Facebook
- 4.5 billion likes are generated daily
- Facebook takes up 22% of Internet time (compared to 11% for Google and YouTube combined)
- Facebook has 19% of the $70 billion spent on global mobile advertising
- 78% of Facebook advertising revenue comes from mobile ads
Instagram has just hit half a billion users. Facebook paid $1 billion for it in 2012 and was seen as possibly foolish at the time. In hindsight it is now looking very wise and astute. Current estimated value? According to Bank of America it could be as high as $37 billion.
- 500 million monthly users
- 20% of all internet users are on Instagram
- Average engagement on Instagram posts is 1.1%
- 91% of all Instagram posts are photos
- 90% of all Instagram users are younger than 35
- 41% of Instagram users are aged between 16 and 24
- 47% of Millenials use Instagram as a messaging app (compared to 50% for Facebook messenger)
- One third of teenagers say Instagram is their most important social network
- 28% of Us users use Instagram
- Instagram has doubled each year for the past 2 years
- 80 million photos are uploaded daily
Twitter is struggling but with over 300 million users it is still a social network worth taking seriously. As its timeline is still quite open the platform is often used as a metric to measure online influence.
- It currently has 310 million monthly users
- In 2015 it had revenue of $2.2 billion
- Katy Perry has over 85 million followers on Twitter
- The most retweeted tweet is the Oscar selfie by Ellen DeGeneres at 3.4 million times
- 500 million people view Twitter without logging in
- 1 billion people each month view sites with embedded tweets
- 200 billion tweets are sent every year
- 500 million tweets are sent each day
- Donald Trump has 7 million followers on Twitter
YouTube is almost seen as a dinosaur on the modern social web (started on February 14, 2005) but the numbers show it’s a big dinosaur and still growing. Google’s acquisition in 2006 for $1.65 billion that seems insignificant with it now being valued around $80 billion.
- YouTube has over 1.3 billion users
- One third of the world’s Internet population use YouTube
- Adele’s song “Hello” only took 5 days to reach 100 million views
- In the USA YouTube reaches more 18-49 year olds than the cable networks
- On mobile the average viewing time on YouTube is 40 minutes
- More than 50% of all YouTube views are on mobile
- You can use 76 different languages on YouTube
- Growth in watch time is up over 50% year on year for the last 3 years
- 5 billion videos are watched every day
- It costs $6.3 billion to open up the doors every year and keep YouTube running and maintained
- PewDiePie is YouTube’s highest paid YouTube partner at $12.5 million
It is now six years since Flipboard launched and often not taken as seriously as it should be by digital and content marketers. I have been using it for 2 years and it sometimes drives more traffic than Facebook to my site.
How do I use it?
Created my own personal magazine and then “flip” the posts into it after publishing it on the blog.
- Flipboard has approximately 90 million users
- Flipboard doubled its monthly users from 40 million to 80 million in less than a year
- JP Morgan led a $50 million funding round in Flipboard in 2014.
- Flipboard’s total funding is $210.5 million
- It is valued between $800 million and $1.32 billion
- The top three user interests on Flipboard are Tech, news and design
LinkedIn has just been bought by Microsoft. It will be interesting to see how that affects its evolution and growth. But there is one thing you should keep in mind.
If you are an avid user of linkedIn and rely almost exclusively on it for leads and creating business relationships then be very careful that you don’t do this.
Put all your eggs in a basket you don’t own.
- Linkedin has more than 433 million members worldwide
- Over 25 million Linkedin profiles are viewed every day
- First quarter revenue for 2016 was $861 million
- Full year revenue for 2016 is projected to reach $3.7 billion
- Microsoft bought Linkedin for $26.2 billion
- 9 percent growth year on year
- 105 million unique visiting members per month
- 60 percent mobile usage
- 45 billion quarterly member page views
- 101 percent annual growth every year with its job listing
- There are more than 7 million active job listings
- One in twenty Linkedin profiles belong to recruiters
- One out of every three professionals on the planet are on LinkedIn
- 200 conversations per minute occur in LinkedIn groups
WhatsApp began as a simple idea: Their mission? “Ensuring that anyone could stay in touch with family and friends anywhere on the planet, without costs or gimmicks standing in the way“.
It’s about the art of keeping it simple and minimalist. It worked.
- WhatsApp started in 2009.
- Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion
- It now has over one billion users
- 1 million new users join every day
- 42 billion messages are sent every 24 hours
- 32% of millennials use Whatsapp globally
- 1.6 billion photos are shared daily
- 250 million video messages are sent a day
- There are over 1 billion groups on Whatsapp
- 57 engineers are employed by the company
Pinterest is not a big viral network but it should not be ignored. It is great for targeting a female demographic and a target market in anything visual.
This includes design, photography, fashion and food as starters.
- Pinterest has 100 million users
- It is valued at $11 billion
- 85% of Pinterest users are female
- Each pin is repinned on average 10 times
- Pinterest pins drive 4 website traffic hits
- Users spend an average of 15 minutes on Pinterest per visit
- 75% of Pintetest traffic comes from mobile apps
- Images with 50% colour saturation get shared 10x more than black and white images
- Red or orange images get shared 200% more than other colors
Periscope is now a Twitter company and maybe its best acquisition to date. But Facebook Live is now a big potential threat. Watch this space.
- Last reported number of users was 10 million in mid 2015
- Periscope has given birth to more than 200 million live broadcasts
- Twitter paid $87 million for Periscope in 2015
- There are 10 million accounts on the Periscope mobile app.
- 75% of Periscope users are between the age of 16 and 34
- The USA House Democrats sit-in was viewed 1 million times on Periscope
- It streams 110 years worth of video every day
About the author: Jeff Bullas
Jeff is an entrepreneur, blogger, author, marketer and speaker and works with personal brands and business to optimize online personal and company brands with emerging technologies, content, social media technologies and digital marketing. He has spent most of his career involved with information technologies, telecommunications and the web.