Hootsuite released its annual global report showing that in 2020 we will likely pass the point where over half of the global population is on social media. We’ve already passed the halfway point of having a phone and internet connectivity. As you dive into the report, you can see where some interesting things are happening that marketers should consider as they try to tell a cohesive and authentic story across an increasingly growing number and types of platforms.

First a few findings from the report:

  • Everything is growing, both in usage and time. Globally, social media users were up 9% in the last year, and even in a mature market like the U.S. it was up over 3%. Time online is also up, with both the global and U.S. average being at about 6.5 hours per day.
  • A shift from type to voice. This is beyond voice activated devices and driven primarily by mobile search and communication. You can see implications on SEO/SEM approaches, but overall access to the internet through mobile devices is growing. Globally there are nearly 4.2 million mobile internet users, which is 92% of all internet users.   
  • Twice as many people are using Twitter while not logged in as people logged in to Twitter. This means information on twitter is reaching a lot more people than reported numbers.
  • People are using more platforms. Sometimes this is segmented for different groups: WhatsApp for a friend in Europe; SMS text with your parents; Messenger with your friends; LinkedIn for your professional peers. Prioritizing platforms for your audience is key.
  • Despite TikTok’s meteoric rise, 75% of its monthly active users are in China and India, and 90% of the hours spent on the platform are from users in those two countries, dominated by China.
  • Apps are becoming more social. Google Maps recently announced new features to get and share recommendations. The trend of interconnectivity continues to sprout new roots.

What does this mean as the next generation of digital natives comes of age? Brands need an omnichannel approach to reach consumers across a myriad of platforms and devices, and in ways that may break from long held beliefs.

Brands that know who they are will win. Content is king, but how do you create context? Too often marketers get hung up on the platform, especially when it is hyped as the next big thing. Consider the value you provide and perceptions you want to affect. Deliver that core value and purpose across all channels. How it is delivered will vary, but you have to have a core understanding of who you are from where it all generates.

Facebook is still dominant and where people connect with friends and family. It is the audience who knows you, and it isn’t going anywhere. While marketers are trying to figure out TikTok, they are neglecting the platform where a TikTok video may be more likely shared and viewed whether that is Facebook Instagram or YouTube. That leads to another point that surprised me from the data. In the U.S. and much of the developed world, Yahoo is a top 5 website. It is particularly popular in Japan.

Ultimately whether reaching people online or IRL, brands need to be authentic and consistent. You don’t need to be everywhere. Brands need to know their consumer, where they are, and what they care about while they are there. You can then build a strategy that connects across channels. If you cannot deliver a relevant value proposition – with authenticity – then it is time to rethink who you are and what your customers want and expect from you.

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