In a Future Led by a Socialized Global Market, Not All Things Are Equal…
By Alex Romanovich
Fortunately for businesses and consumers alike, all these queries can be answered given the vast analytic data social networks grant us. Well perhaps the first two can be answered, Beast may be a whole different story. Looking forward, we start with the simple fact of the matter that may shock some readers.
It is important to note that for the first time in modern history the emerging markets like that of Eastern “developing” nations (i.e. China, India, Indonesia etc.) “now claim the majority of world GDP” (The Atlantic). What this means is while the West currently stands out to businesses due to our vast wealth, the East could realistically compete with the West as a powerful consumer market if they have both the user count and wealth to ensure firms steady commerce. Again, this would indicate a shift of focus for social media networking sites to cater to the more opportunistic market in the East; the more consumers an area has the more economic demand it will command, and therefore more businesses will be willing to meet that demand in search of the almighty net profit. If businesses focus on the East, social media sites will soon follow suit.
As the user counts continue to soar globally, it appears the variety of social media networks used is shifting along with this growth. Of course the overwhelming statistic points to Facebook being the number one used social network as the site hit 1 billion users globally last October. However, 81% of those 1 billion users lived outside of the U.S and Canada. The users lived in places like Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, etc.—places where Facebook wasn’t domestic to the countries itself and therefore could be challenged by different social media networks. As HootSuite’s CEO Ryan Holmes on Business Insiderpointed out, while Facebook hit 1 billion users last year, it also lost 1.4 million active users, marking the first time the digital network lost a relatively significant amount of users. But where did these users go?
While some of the users may have left social media networks altogether, others went to sites like Twitter or LinkedIn, typically considered the other two big social media networks here in the West. However, a previous blog post by Social2B explored a recent study demonstrating that the average social media user operates two social media accounts. You’ve probably already noticed that most people who have Facebook tend to have Twitter or LinkedIn, so in that regard the study holds true for a majority of social media users here in the U.S. While Twitter and LinkedIn rank right behind Facebook as the most popular social media sites in the West, this trend shifts when you look at regions outside the typical Western scope.
According to a report by Hubspot, countries like Brazil, France, India, Spain all use social media networks other than LinkedIn and Twitter. For example, Brazilians use social media sites like Badoo and Orkut along with Facebook, and that is nothing to overlook. Recent stats put Brazil as the 7th largest Internet market globally with 46.3 million people online. This number has extreme growth potential as well as it has increased by 16% since 2011. Taking into account the fact that most users have multiple social media accounts and that international countries feature vastly different social media networks, there is no reason not to think that the next big social media channel could come from abroad. As users grow tired of the typical Western social media networks, the opportunity for a “foreign invader” to infiltrate the American market is certainly present. It is for this reason that businesses must stay aware of exterior social media networks outside the country. This way, if a major site such as Orkut does take off here in the U.S., your company will be more than prepared.
As we venture into synthesizing this information for the use of firms here in the U.S., one founding idea stands out: businesses must globalize. Since the early 1990s, globalization has been a force that has pulled the world closer together and allowed nations to share aspects of their culture with one another. This ultra-integration has only been multiplied with the advent and active use of the Internet. With the mixture of both these forces and inclusion of social media, businesses now have a way of interacting and communicating with consumers across the globe. This gives every business a chance to market their products to a place literally on the other side of the globe, and while this may not be useful for your typical local small business, medium-to-large size businesses should seriously consider branching into the “new world order.” Even looking more towards companies who specialize in specifically digital content, these types of firms can operate from virtually any place on the globe because their ability to produce is not limited by locality due to the Internet. The latter types of businesses should certainly take advantage of their capability to market and produce for clients worldwide.
So you see the future of social media is led by the ability for individuals and organizations to appeal to these growing markets in the East. While Facebook remains atop the social media food chain, the industry is built on this idea that innovation brings change, meaning that a greater social media network could be produced overnight shifting the way we view digital content. Given that the last speaks to the instability of the social media industry, companies must prepare themselves for the future by becoming familiar with a vast amount of different social media channels. While doing this, businesses also gain the knowledge that allows them to market to foreign regions where, given the data, an influx of users exists.
As the great Wayne Gretzky once said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” If we apply this simple quote to the status of modern marketing, it’s clear that businesses must prepare themselves for the future. Guerrilla and direct marketing led the past; the present is governed by mobile and social media marketing; but what does the future bring? The trends suggest that with the capabilities brands are given due to social media marketing and the pure ability of the digital age, businesses should expand outside the parameters of their normal thinking. As humans we are limited by our locality to a fairly one-dimensional perception of what’s around us. The Internet does not share this same flaw and is inherently multi-dimensional by nature, factoring in a larger audience and market. Businesses need to grasp this subject and use the tools that are readily around them. To put it in layman’s terms, marketers today are driving at 30 MPH on a highway where there is no speed limit. If firms want to achieve more they can, they just have put their foot down on the pedal and extend their views on social commerce to outside the region.