Blog Post:It's hard to believe that Facebook will be ten years old this February and yet social media still seems new to many of us. Brands are struggling as much as they ever have done to understand what to do with it, and which networks actually have any real value. I noticed a number of social challenges that brands faced in 2013 but probably the two most common questions I got asked were:
  1. Which social networks should I focus on?
  2. How much of my time and resources should I allocate to each one?
The answers to these questions are not as complicated as people often think, but neither is there correct answer to either of them. Many people have written blog posts suggesting that they have the answer - but rather than add my own opinions to that long list, I thought I'd just look at the data to see where the world seems to have been spending it's time over the last 12 years. (Infographic created in Adobe Photoshop obviously!)...   Social Networks 2014   The figures... I've purposely focused here on the total number of user profiles for each network*. I did this purely for the sake of comparison (rather than daily / monthly active users), so before anyone bursts a blood vessel and calls me out in the comments, let's save the messy debate around active v inactive fans for another time. All I want to do here is look at which social networks people have chosen to join over the last decade or so.   The figures themselves highlight a couple of interesting points that social media executives often miss:  
"All of this is very interesting, but just because these appear to be the world's largest networks, still doesn't mean you should be paying attention to them..."
  In truth, noone should be telling you where to spend your time, budget and resources other than your fans. Just because a great article on Mashable might suggest that Pinterest is smashing all sales records for brand X, doesn't mean it will do the same for you. Instagram and Twitter have recently shown impressive returns for brands experimenting with advertising, but it's quite possible that their audiences behave completely differently than yours. It is for this reason that the social team at Adobe always encourages brands to focus only on their own audiences - and to become obsessed with understanding what they are interested in, and how they behave.   I like to simplify this kind of audience analysis (and conveniently avoiding huge spreadsheets), by suggesting that brands should first look at just five key areas. I call them the "Five W's"...
  1. Who is talking about you?
  2. What are they saying?
  3. When did these conversations take place?
  4. Where did these conversations happen?
  5. Why did they happen?
It is the 4th (and possibly most important), "W" that I chose to focus on for this graphic. I've done this because I spent a lot of time in 2013 highlighting important conversations to brands that they weren't aware of - on networks that they weren't monitoring closely enough. It is for this reason that I encourage every brand to examine their fan base, and look at EVERY mention of their brand on a regular basis, in order to understand which networks matter most to them. This kind of audience analysis helps brands to make better business decisions by revealing valuable insights such as; Which countries and languages are the most relevant? What are the common topics among each different audience segment? What trends are developing? Which conversations drove the highest engagement and which mentions delivered the most sales? (I wrote more about this in Adobe's "Like-Cycle" white paper) earlier last year.  
"It is only when you can see what percentage of these conversations are happening on each network, that you can allocate your time, resources and advertising budgets effectively".
  [caption id="attachment_6757" align="alignnone" width="1090"]An example of social platform analysis from Adobe Social An example of social platform analysis from a dashboard within Adobe Social[/caption]   Finally ~ People Share Emotions Not Facts My final point is simply a friendly word of caution... Social networks are the one place where people share the things they are most passionate about. Whether is is sharing an exciting piece of content or responding to something provocative, emotions drive behaviour online. Seeking to connect with their audience, I often see social marketers making decisions about content or conversation strategies, based around emotion rather than facts.
"Emotions drive social media, but they shouldn't drive your strategy".
What marketers need to be mindful of is that their emotions don't cloud any decisions they make around their social strategies, or how they think they should reach their fans. By that I mean that a strategy (in any area of business not just social media), should never be based upon personal opinion, bias or emotion. Successful strategies should be built upon interpreting accurate insight from your audience - and not from any assumptions or "gut feelings". Only when you have that data at your disposal and you are able to understand it, should you go about creating relevant and exciting content for each social network. And the brands with the best understanding, will always have the most passionate and engaged audiences.   * (I personally believe that email was social a long time before any of these. I also think of Skype, XBox Live, Playstation Network or powerful messaging app's such as Japan's Line as "social networks", but I've left them off here. Again thats a feisty discussion for a different time...) ** There are many social listening tools on the market which claim to help you track the value of social relationships (we obviously believe that Adobe Social is the best!). What is important for you, is to know which networks your fans and customers care about - not just which social networks you think are important.
Author: Date Created:3 January 2014 Date Published: Headline:Which Social Networks Should You Care About in 2014? Social Counts: Keywords: Publisher:Adobe Image:http://blogs.adobe.com/digitaleurope/files/2014/01/Adobe_Blog-Header-images_1640x920_35.jpg

It’s hard to believe that Face­book will be ten years old this Feb­ru­ary and yet social media still seems new to many of us. Brands are strug­gling as much as they ever have done to under­stand what to do with it, and which net­works actu­ally have any real value. I noticed a num­ber of social chal­lenges that brands faced in 2013 but prob­a­bly the two most com­mon ques­tions I got asked were:

  1. Which social net­works should I focus on?
  2. How much of my time and resources should I allo­cate to each one?

The answers to these ques­tions are not as com­pli­cated as peo­ple often think, but nei­ther is there cor­rect answer to either of them. Many peo­ple have writ­ten blog posts sug­gest­ing that they have the answer — but rather than add my own opin­ions to that long list, I thought I’d just look at the data to see where the world seems to have been spend­ing it’s time over the last 12 years. (Info­graphic cre­ated in Adobe Pho­to­shop obviously!)…

 

Social Networks 2014

 

The fig­ures…

I’ve pur­posely focused here on the total num­ber of user pro­files for each net­work*. I did this purely for the sake of com­par­i­son (rather than daily / monthly active users), so before any­one bursts a blood ves­sel and calls me out in the com­ments, let’s save the messy debate around active v inac­tive fans for another time. All I want to do here is look at which social net­works peo­ple have cho­sen to join over the last decade or so.

 

The fig­ures them­selves high­light a cou­ple of inter­est­ing points that social media exec­u­tives often miss:

  • There are almost as many social pro­files just among these 21 net­works, as there are peo­ple in the world!
  • Many busi­ness peo­ple for­get that China has 3 of the world’s largest and most pow­er­ful social net­works. (Sina Weibo for exam­ple has the same mar­ket pen­e­tra­tion in China that Twit­ter does in the US).
  • Some of the Mid­dle East­ern brands I spoke to last year told me that YouTube was far more valu­able to their brand than either Twit­ter and Face­book, and they built their social strate­gies accordingly.
  • Many Span­ish brands have cho­sen to focus their efforts on the local net­work Tuenti instead of Facebook.
  • The old­est social net­work on the list Friend­ster, has a sur­pris­ingly large and active fan base (admit­tedly now with a dif­fer­ent pur­pose than it was cre­ated for).
  • Bebo is still going and plan­ning to be prop­erly re-launched again by orig­i­nal co-founder Michael Birch.
  • Google+ (the net­work we all like to poke fun at), has become the place for com­ment­ing on YouTube.
  • Mar­ket ana­lysts sug­gested in 2013 that Pin­ter­est (not even 4 years old), had dou­ble the click-through-rate of Twit­ter and drove 2x the aver­age order value of Face­book, even though it only has 5% of the user base.
  • Russ­ian net­work VK is big­ger than Insta­gram glob­ally with a mas­sive 228m reg­is­tered users.
  • SnapChat (hack­ing issues aside), 2013 saw more pho­tos dis­trib­uted on SnapChat (up to 400m each day) than there was on Facebook.
  • But… old-timer Orkut (the for­got­ten Brazil­ian net­work owned by Google) is still “big­ger” than the trendy new kid on the block SnapChat.

 

“All of this is very inter­est­ing, but just because these appear to be the world’s largest net­works, still doesn’t mean you should be pay­ing atten­tion to them…”

 

In truth, noone should be telling you where to spend your time, bud­get and resources other than your fans. Just because a great arti­cle on Mash­able might sug­gest that Pin­ter­est is smash­ing all sales records for brand X, doesn’t mean it will do the same for you. Insta­gram and Twit­ter have recently shown impres­sive returns for brands exper­i­ment­ing with adver­tis­ing, but it’s quite pos­si­ble that their audi­ences behave com­pletely dif­fer­ently than yours. It is for this rea­son that the social team at Adobe always encour­ages brands to focus only on their own audi­ences — and to become obsessed with under­stand­ing what they are inter­ested in, and how they behave.

 

I like to sim­plify this kind of audi­ence analy­sis (and con­ve­niently avoid­ing huge spread­sheets), by sug­gest­ing that brands should first look at just five key areas. I call them the “Five W’s”…

  1. Who is talk­ing about you?
  2. What are they saying?
  3. When did these con­ver­sa­tions take place?
  4. Where did these con­ver­sa­tions happen?
  5. Why did they happen?

It is the 4th (and pos­si­bly most impor­tant), “W” that I chose to focus on for this graphic. I’ve done this because I spent a lot of time in 2013 high­light­ing impor­tant con­ver­sa­tions to brands that they weren’t aware of — on net­works that they weren’t mon­i­tor­ing closely enough. It is for this rea­son that I encour­age every brand to exam­ine their fan base, and look at EVERY men­tion of their brand on a reg­u­lar basis, in order to under­stand which net­works mat­ter most to them. This kind of audi­ence analy­sis helps brands to make bet­ter busi­ness deci­sions by reveal­ing valu­able insights such as; Which coun­tries and lan­guages are the most rel­e­vant? What are the com­mon top­ics among each dif­fer­ent audi­ence seg­ment? What trends are devel­op­ing? Which con­ver­sa­tions drove the high­est engage­ment and which men­tions deliv­ered the most sales? (I wrote more about this in Adobe’s “Like-Cycle” white paper) ear­lier last year.

 

“It is only when you can see what per­cent­age of these con­ver­sa­tions are hap­pen­ing on each net­work, that you can allo­cate your time, resources and adver­tis­ing bud­gets effectively”.

 

An example of social platform analysis from Adobe Social

An exam­ple of social plat­form analy­sis from a dash­board within Adobe Social

 

Finally ~ Peo­ple Share Emo­tions Not Facts

My final point is sim­ply a friendly word of cau­tion… Social net­works are the one place where peo­ple share the things they are most pas­sion­ate about. Whether is is shar­ing an excit­ing piece of con­tent or respond­ing to some­thing provoca­tive, emo­tions drive behav­iour online. Seek­ing to con­nect with their audi­ence, I often see social mar­keters mak­ing deci­sions about con­tent or con­ver­sa­tion strate­gies, based around emo­tion rather than facts.

“Emo­tions drive social media, but they shouldn’t drive your strategy”.

What mar­keters need to be mind­ful of is that their emo­tions don’t cloud any deci­sions they make around their social strate­gies, or how they think they should reach their fans. By that I mean that a strat­egy (in any area of busi­ness not just social media), should never be based upon per­sonal opin­ion, bias or emo­tion. Suc­cess­ful strate­gies should be built upon inter­pret­ing accu­rate insight from your audi­ence — and not from any assump­tions or “gut feel­ings”. Only when you have that data at your dis­posal and you are able to under­stand it, should you go about cre­at­ing rel­e­vant and excit­ing con­tent for each social net­work. And the brands with the best under­stand­ing, will always have the most pas­sion­ate and engaged audiences.

 

* (I per­son­ally believe that email was social a long time before any of these. I also think of Skype, XBox Live, Playsta­tion Net­work or pow­er­ful mes­sag­ing app’s such as Japan’s Line as “social net­works”, but I’ve left them off here. Again thats a feisty dis­cus­sion for a dif­fer­ent time…)

** There are many social lis­ten­ing tools on the mar­ket which claim to help you track the value of social rela­tion­ships (we obvi­ously believe that Adobe Social is the best!). What is impor­tant for you, is to know which net­works your fans and cus­tomers care about — not just which social net­works you think are important.