Facebook is so last year, study shows

Published Sep 13, 2011


Facebook fatigue is setting in. Time has wearied users of Facebook and while total usage is growing thanks to emerging countries, established markets such as the US, UK and Canada have seen large declines in terms of active participation such as status updates, sharing content, messaging and installing applications.

That’s the recent finding by GlobalWebIndex, the world’s most detailed global insight study into consumer behaviour online.

Active behaviour on Facebook in the US such as messaging friends and joining groups in the past month are down 15 percent and 10 percent respectively.

This trend is even more pronounced among US college educated, 20-somethings, the original users of the platform.

However, GlobalWebIndex notes that globally, total active usage of all social network sites has risen dramatically in all age groups, up 26 percent among 16-24s, 46 percent among 25-34s, 35 percent among 35-44s and by 52 percent among 45-54s.

Wave 5 of the global survey highlights five key trends in the way consumers utilise all internet platforms. This analysis of key changes in behaviour is based on interviews with nearly 100 000 people in 27 key internet markets over five separate waves of research.

l The Fragmented Web: The way that we use the web is increasingly varied.

The global internet has become a mix of local internets, each with radically different adoption levels and behaviour profiles.

The gap between the fastest and the slowest-growing markets for platforms such as Instant Messenger and Social Networking can be as much as 73 percent, for example.

The broad picture is of developed internet markets such as the UK and South Korea with more emphasis on purchasing and e-commerce, while emerging countries such as Indonesia and the Philippines increasingly dominate social channels.

l Welcome to the Post-PC World: The way we access the internet is changing, says GlobalWeb-Index.

PCs and laptops are being replaced by cellphones and other mobile devices such as tablets.

Although 79 percent of respondents now cite their personal PC or laptop as their favourite internet device, in 12 months only 42 percent expect to say the same as consumers plan to switch to cellphones (18 percent), tablet devices (19 percent) and TV (7 percent).

l Continued Rise of Real-Time: Microblogging and social networking are the fastest growing social media activities, up 62 percent and 40 percent from Wave 1 (July 2009) to Wave 5 (June 2011) respectively.

The shift is being driven by increased use of mobile and, alongside the rise in app usage, creates huge opportunities for traditional content creators as consumers turn to sharing and recommending content instead of creating.

l The Lean-Back Internet: The rise of the real-time web is highlighting the value of traditional content and creating an ecosystem where media owners can profit from online. Consumers have switched from being content creators to transmitters and distributors of other people’s information.

Consumption of professional video content, films, TV and sports is exploding and consumers are increasingly willing to pay for access.

Twenty-nine percent of online users globally would pay to download a TV show or film, the same percentage as would pay to download a music track.

Tom Smith, managing director of TrendStream, the company that produces GlobalWebIndex, said: “The constant evolution in the way that consumers are accessing and using internet platforms present real challenges for marketers.

“It is clear from this research that there is no such thing as a singular global brand strategy online – each market and consumer segment behaves differently. The consumer-driven nature of social media has expanded these differences more quickly than ever before.

“In addition, the massive consumer interest across the world in supplanting the PC with mobiles (cellphones) and tablets as their primary access device, increases the need for very smart multi-platform and multi-market internet strategies.”

The GlobalWebIndex is the most detailed on-going global study into the internet consumer’s attitudes, motivation and multi-platform internet behaviour, enabling clients to understand the impact of internet-enabled platforms on their target audience, business category and market impact.

In 2011 there will be three waves of research, expanding to four waves in 2012 and more than 120 000 consumers in 36 markets.

The GlobalWebIndex is used by some of the world’s biggest media, public relations, digital and creative agencies including Starcom MediaVest, Ogilvy and Razorfish.

Other clients include Nokia, Orangina Schweppes and BBC Worldwide. - Saturday Star

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