Some pretty shocking data for UK fans of the social networking site MySpace was highlighted last week, with the news that traffic to the site has now dropped behind that of microblogging site Twitter.
On one side, this is just more evidence of the amazing rise of Twitter in the UK (leading to London being described as the “capital of Twitter” by its CEO, Ev Williams) – and these site traffic stats actually only tell part of that story, due to the number of people using third-party applications to manage their Twitter accounts.
However what is more significant is such clear evidence for the apparent collapse of MySpace over here.
With the pace of change in the Web 2.0 world over the last few years, it’s easy to forget just how dominant MySpace looked in the UK market back in the early days of the online social networking goldrush. As a reminder, I dug-out a blog post I wrote ‘way back’ in early June 2007 – when it was Facebook that was the freshfaced newcomer showing what would now be described as ‘Twitterish’ growth…
Amazing to think that back then MySpace was sitting pretty on over 100m users worldwide, compared to Facebook’s mere 25m. The story since then has of course been dominated by Facebook – with it’s active user numbers reaching 250m by July this year, while MySpace growth has stalled such that even its dominance in the US social media market seems doomed.
All in all, a useful reminder never to take the social networking world for granted. It is still a far from mature marketplace and there is pretty well constant change going on out there, whether related to new functionality, shifting user demographics, or the simple departure of users altogether. All of which makes it essential for any marketers or fundraisers responsible for social media activity to keep an eye out for data that helps them understand just what’s happening, so as to help guide where to invest time and budgets when looking to engage with supporters online.
Yesterday Ofcom, the independent regulator for the UK’s communication industries, released its latest Communications Market Report – providing up-to-date information on the nation’s use of all communications technologies from Radio and Television through to the Internet.
Free to download, at 334 pages it is rather a lengthy read – but you can easily skip through it on screen and it does provide some very useful data for anyone looking to keep track of how Internet access and usage is changing in the UK (or indeed any form of communications usage).
A few highlights, just to whet your appetite…
- Overall, between home, work and other connections, 74% of UK adults now use the internet
- 65% of UK households now have a fixed line broadband connection – up from 58% last year
- Mobile broadband is growing rapidly, with over 250k new pre-pay mobile broadband connections in May 2009 alone. Overall some 12% of UK households have a mobile broadband connection, but 75% of these also have fixed-line broadband
- 23% of UK adults with home internet access watch catch-up TV online
- 38% of UK adults have set-up a social network profile – up from 21% last year, and with the fastest growth in the 35-54 age group
- The average UK Facebook user spends nearly six hours on the site each month
There’s an interesting article by Jon Duschinsky in the latest edition of the Resource Alliance eNewsletter, where he introduces the concept of ‘quantum fundraising’ as a way of explaining how people increasingly want to come-together online to make something happen – but then to disband and move-on to do something different elsewhere. Jon says…
People are increasingly self-organising and using the tools of the flat world platform – the web, networks (physical and virtual), tribes, omniscient communication – to effect change in different ways. Linear society is fading from our present. We have entered the age of quantum society, where people come together under a shared vision to effect change before disbanding and going off to do other things.
He goes-on to examine what can be learned from Obama’s grassroots fundraising activity as a guide to how to make quantum fundraising happen as well as to highlight what he believes to be one of the Obama team’s few errors – going against the quantum fundraising idea by trying to maintain the community that formed to get him elected when the mass of those involved have moved-on to other things.
It’s well worth a read as a fresh take on the challenges fundraisers will face in the future as they seek to engage with supporters in our networked society.
Other related Giving in a Digital World posts:
What is the future for membership organisations within our networked society?
Social Actions – open source microphilanthropy in action
Online research and measurement company comScore just released the findings of a study into UK social networking site usage which provides a good picture of just how mainstream social networking has now become – with an incredible 80% of the total UK online population (aged 15+) apparently having visited at least one social networking site in May 2009.
As you might expect, the most active users are still in the 15-24 age group, with 86% of them visiting social networking sites and spending an average of 4.6 hours on them over the month. However, as the table below shows, 67% of the 55+ segment are also shown as using these sites, for an average of 3.7 hours over the month – confirming the fact that social networking is ‘maturing’ as an online activity (which, as I’ve said many times before, is good for online fundraising).
The report also provides a popularity ranking of social network sites for the UK, as shown below, with Facebook now by far the dominant site in this category – with pretty well the same unique visitor numbers as the next four sites put together.
Also interesting to see figures for the growth of Twitter – up a phenomenal 3,226% year on year. That’ll be an interesting growth rate to review in 12 months time…
One of the regular topics that comes-up when I’m discussing the potential of online social networks with fundraisers from outside the UK is just which social networks are dominant in their particular country. Because, contrary to how it might feel from the UK or US perspective, when you go further afield the Social Network world doesn’t start and end with Facebook.
So, I’m always on the look-out for data which helps shed some light on the relative strengths of different sites across different countries – and two such sources cropped-up over the last couple of days that I thought you might find useful, wherever you happen to be based.
The first is from TechCrunch.com, who have just updated their global valuation of social networks. While this is certainly interesting from the overall valuation standpoint, it’s also great that they have provided a link to all of the Comscore base data underpinning their model – which gives a handy snapshot of unique visitor numbers for 26 social networking sites across 17 countries.
The second is a little less robust, but still provides some useful insight into the different sites prevalent in different countries. This comes from Vincenzo Cosenza’s blog, where he has used Alexa and Google Trends for Websites data to develop his own visual mapping of the Social Networking world.
While I’m pointing-out free research relating to Social Networks, you might also want to take a look at the Nonprofit Social Network Survey Report released a little earlier this year. This is US-based, but provides some interesting insights into where and how US nonprofits are active on Social Network sites, which should also be of interest to anyone interested in this area of nonprofit communications and fundraising.
Understanding how the specific consumer groups that make-up your target audiences are adopting and using digital channels is fundamental to developing successful programmes to engage with them online. Unfortunately, if you don’t have a chunky consumer research budget you may well feel that you have no way of gaining the type of detailed insights you need to support your planning.
However, if you keep a look-out then chances are you’ll find that every so often some great reports are made available completely free of charge that can give you just the type of information you need.
Admittedly, as a long-time consumer planner with a specific interest in digital marketing who heads-up a team of strategy and consumer insight specialists, I’m a bit obsessive when it comes to monitoring how different segments of the consumer market use technology – and over the years I’ve learned where to look for specific things. But it really doesn’t take that much effort to do some careful Google searches and keep your eyes open for news of reports being released – and the insight you can get as a result could really help your online planning
Case in point, just last month digital agency Razorfish and Social Network CafeMom made available a great report entitled ‘Digital Mom’, packed with information about how mothers are using the internet.
Based on a survey of 1,500 ‘digital moms’ (or mums, depending where you are), defined as women with at least one child aged under 18 in the home who are active online, the report provides a wide range of information into how they use the internet and how this usage changes as their children grow up, as well as specific profiles of their online social network use.
If mums are your target audience (or even moms), well worth a read – and a handy reminder of the quality of free consumer insight reports that can be found online if you keep your browser eyes open.
Online Community Fundraising was one of the big discussion topics over at the Dutch National Fundraising conference back in November, so it’s no surprise that since then I’ve noticed a growing number of new examples of fundraisers in Holland making use of social media to engage with supporters and their personal social networks online.
A couple of the latest have been health charity Astma Fons and the team behind the annual Radio 3FM ‘Serious Request’ fundraising campaign on behalf of the Red Cross – both of which have joined Vogelbescherming Nederland in making use of the YoCo online community fundraising platform.
Meanwhile, new Dutch crowdfunding start-up Play It Forward looks to have slipped its launch date just a little – with the launch countdown on its holding site now indicating a live date in February.