The local number of Facebook users grew by 500 000 people or 11 percent to 4.9 million users in 2012 as the growth of smartphones in South Africa continues to fuel social media adoption.
Steven Ambrose, Strategy Worx CEO, says this was one of the key findings of Strategy Worx’s latest Social Media and Mobile infographic. Of the 4.9 million South Africans who have Facebook accounts, around 4 million have accessed Facebook from their mobile phones with smartphones playing an important role in the growth of Facebook in particular this year.
What is interesting about smartphone usage in South Africa is that BlackBerry and Nokia make up around 87 percent of smartphones in the country. While BlackBerry is undoubtedly the darling child of the local smartphone market with 46 percent market share, and Android phones are at 11 percent mark, it is Nokia who is the dark horse of smartphones with a market share of around 41 percent.
Guest Post: Antonio Petra is Head of Insight at NATIVE and has worked in the digital environment for the past 15 years, with experience in online marketing, strategy, brand building, and analytics. His focus is developing and implementing measurement frameworks and diagnostic tools for large companies to assess their digital platform value and performance.
The future of the web is connected platforms. This is a bold statement, I know, but it is human nature to need parameters whilst at the same time revolt against institutions whose parameters are too onerous. No one platform can ever be an entire digital experience for users, for many reasons, aside from the one I’ve stated above.
What Google+ aims to do is create a layer on top of the internet, a layer which incorporates the connectedness of Facebook while simultaneously breaking down the walls that social platforms require in order to curate the experience of their users. In a sense Google+ is simply a situation where you can have your cake and eat it. Your cake is the connectedness of social media combined with the great experiences on the web you still love (like your favourite news sites) but are outside of the walled garden of social media websites.
You could argue that Facebook Connect gives you this, but Connect is really a way of pushing experiences or content back into Facebook. This, admittedly, is actually an effective way of sharing content. The fact is though it is more biased towards keeping you within the eco-system of Facebook. This is one of the many reasons big brands have simply given up the fight and have shifted their presence into Facebook – it’s really to avoid a conversion hurdle of getting people out of Facebook and into their websites.
In a sense it’s pretty easy to build a Facebook, several clones exist, however the biggest challenge that Google+ faces is in attracting users, and it is an incredible challenge when users are spoilt for choice. It’s why all the clones never amount to Facebook’s success – they may have better features but they can’t attract the audience. I’m not undermining how brilliant Facebook actually is, it has been incredible in terms of foresight into the human need to connect and be heard, and first to market with many features we take for granted today. What I am saying is that all the current criticism over Google+’s obvious Facebook-type features are actually pointless, they’re a ridiculous feature comparison which is biased by what the authors know and are used to versus what is new and maybe a little threatening.
START UP THE MARKETING MACHINE
So basically Google will need to drive users to Google+ in order to make it work. They know now that the subtle coolness of simply putting the product out there for people to discover won’t work (see Google Wave), they also know that simply opting in their entire Gmail user base will also not work (see Google Buzz). Hopefully they have realised it’s a combination of good, old-fashioned marketing and a dose of coolness – and omnipresence doesn’t hurt either.
Google has recently woken up to the power of marketing the brand. The success of Google’S $5-million Super Bowl advert (broadcast in February 2010) has had an impact on the way Google thinks about brand advertising. In a recent interview Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google, actually said that the ad paid for itself. “We turned a Super Bowl ad into a ROI phenomenon,” he said.
Just to emphasise this point, + is actually a part of a wave at Google which includes a major re-design of all user interfaces, along with the rebranding of two of their major products. For a company of Google’s size, with its user base, that is a big statement to make. It means they’re taking the comfort of their users very seriously.
WHY GOOGLE+ HAS TO WORK
This is a pride issue for Google. As every tech journalist has pointed out, this is round three of Google’s social media experiment. They have failed rather spectacularly before so I believe this is the make or break and they will throw whatever their $65-billion dollar machine has to throw at it. If they don’t succeed the only way they could get into social media is to buy into the competition, and this would probably prove more expensive a strategy than throwing a bunch of cash at making Google+ work.
Also, the competition is a complex arrangement of competitors, so it may not even be an option. At the moment the stakes seem high, several articles in the months leading up to the launch of Google+ asked whether Google is actually just a search company. I often express my irritation with this statement, because even if Google is just a search company, it’s a damn profitable one. This statement is akin to saying Coca Cola is just a sugary beverage. By making this statement, journalists are ignoring the true money machine behind Google. Google is not a search company – its money spinner is Pay Per Click (PPC).
This brings me to the second reason Google needs to make Google+ work. The day the PPC model is threatened is the day Google will shrug its shroud of apparent complacency and become more aggressive in its approach to social media.
Frankly, I think that day is dawning. The reason for this is that we are experiencing a third fundamental shift in the way we “discover” content. The first phase in the early nineties was when we used to browse around for content. The second phase came in the mid to late nineties when search engines began helping us find content and the third phase began a few years ago with the arrival of social media.
This phase is predominantly a referral phase and PPC revenue can only be negatively affected by a referral-based community. Search has essentially become pretty cluttered and the race to ensure that search results are relevant is being closely run by Google, Affiliates, and Content Farms. However, if Google+ is actually successful it will give Google the opportunity to prolong a PPC-type system.
Because of this we are still to see the Golden Age of Search. Machines and the people who craft the Google Algorithm both seem to be getting smarter every 18 months.
Brands and agencies are scrambling to determine exactly how Google+ will affect their digital presence. I have already received countless emails from clients asking when we’re going to integrate Google+ and when we can show them the new Social Analytics data from the Google Analytics dash that has just been released. It’s not surprising considering Google+ gained 10 million followers in just 16 days, compared to Twitter’s 780 days and Facebook’s 852 days to reach the same amount. Google is indeed a force to be reckoned with.
Mashable put together this great little infographic to show how much data is created as a result of social media. A recent study puts that figure at around 1.8 zettabytes (A zettabyte is equal to 1 billion terabytes) – so next time you look at how many Facebook photos you have to see, think about about how many storage all those photos take up. As we mentioned before, we are all obsessed with Facebook…
If you ever needed convincing that the future of the internet is mobile, you HAVE to look at this excellent video by the guys at MobileFuture. We are shifting very quickly towards a ubiquitous internet society…
Some mindblowing statistics: (dont just read these, do yourself a favour and watch the video)
Whopping expansion of location-based services
Surge in mobile social media platforms
Ongoing explosion in data traffic
Unprecedented competition and choice
My favourite part: “The Digital Camera died in 2010: Your Mobile Phone is looking very guilty…”
Well I guess I am not alone in thinking Facebook Mobile is better than the full site. Ever since using Facebook for iPhone I hardly ever visit the full facebook.com site anymore. This the same for Facebook for Blackberry and Android as well. I find the full website too cluttered, slow and frankly overbearing. Facebook on my phone is quick, to the point and best of all, tends to ignore most Facebook “applications”. No reading about which celebrity your friends look like…
The folks at Flowtown made this brilliant inforgraphic illustrating just how popular Facebook Mobile is:
Evly is an online network of crowdsourcing communities where users can create advanced crowdsourcing websites in a few clicks to bring people together to constantly solve new challenges.
Crowdsourcing is the method of sourcing a solution from a crowd, community or social network as opposed to a single contractor with the understanding that the wisdom of the crowd is greater than the wisdom of the individual. This method not only gives rise to a variety of stimulating solutions but also powerful viral marketing potential. Evly websites function much like the group or fan-pages on other social media websites, however evly provides users with their own unique website and the ability to grow a network based around their particular interest or need. In addition, evly will provide advanced crowdsourcing and social networking features which will enable website owners to easily manage and grow their own community.
CrowdTech, the holding company for Springleap.com, evly.com and eKomi.co.za, utilizes the insights acquired from Springleap.com’s crowdsourcing model. Along with two years of research in the development of evly, CrowdTech combines these learning’s in the development of this distinctive crowdsourcing social media platform. CrowdTech recognises the need to provide a service that will allow anyone through the medium of the Internet, the opportunity to source solutions by harnessing collective intelligence, skills, talent or collaborative efforts through a large network of people. Co-Founder, Eran Eyal suggests: “The social web is no longer going to be about idle chatter on a platform populated by reactive users: evly.com is about a world of PRO-active website creators and community members constantly looking to solve new problems and build solutions in an environment saturated by the right tools.”
Evly provides the tools that enable general users and large brands to achieve various objectives: the platform allows community engagement, the ability to source answers to any possible question, fund raising for various ventures, and the gathering of market research through analysis of comments, feedback and voting. CEO of CrowdTech, Eric Edelstein, proposes that the future web will be centred on goals, objectives, purposes and challenges. “evly.com allows interaction with a purpose rather than people just interacting for the sake of it! Companies and individuals from all across the globe are now beginning to see that they can solve problems by tapping into a larger knowledge base, at a fraction of the price and in a much shorter time through the Internet.”
Evly – the “network of networks”, will open up a world of hybrid crowdsourcing communities to every evly user. Just by joining evly.com or any community built off the evly platform, users will be encouraged to explore the evly network through their own personalised dashboard. There they will be able to search, discover and participate across the entire evly network of crowdsourcing communities. Analysts predict the estimated growth of evly over the next 36 months will be around 35 million registered users, along with 1.5 million active websites and 4000 corporate clients.
As our regular readers will know, we here at Bandwidth Blog like infographics, or basically anything that makes data more visually appealing, or easier to understand. I recently came across this tool from Ionz which generates a cool looking, albeit simple “view” of your own profile. When you open up the site it will ask you a few questions, and then based on percentages of the average user, generate something like this:
From there you can go and save a high resolution version for desktop. While I realize its a very simple little tool, I wish it had a few more metrics.
If you want to go and try it out – get it here. Once it fires up, just click the Union Jack at the top right to switch to english. From there answer the questions, and just wait for he infograph to generate. You can then personalize it in terms of orientation, colour, etc. Enjoy.