social networks, Twitter

Global Trends in Social Networks: The Socialization of Brands

1 Comment 01 November 2010

I’m always on the  lookout for good international data about the use of social media and social networks. Each year, I eagerly await the results of Universal McCann’s “Wave” study on social media. Since 2006, Universal McCann has been surveying active internet users worldwide about their use of the internet yearly. This year, 37,600 respondents from 53 countries told UM how they use the internet. The results, highlighting trends and changes from years past, show the domination and rise of both social networks and branded online social communities. So much so that this year’s report is entitled “Wave 5 – The Socialization of Brands.” The report, issued in October 2010, summarizes the latest Wave 5 survey data gathered in July 2010.

Here are some facts from the report that all organizations should take note of:

1. The Rise of the Social Network

According to the study, social network usage has risen from 52% to 70% by 25-34 year-olds worldwide. Three-quarters of active internet users worldwide have managed a social network profile. When asked the number of activities people use social networks for, that number has risen from 6.4 to eight activities since Wave 4 in 2009.

Wave 5 illustrates that social networks have broadened in the past several years to have effectively become the chosen online home of all your social media activities.

Looking at Figure 4 from the study, people prefer using a social network for almost every type of online experience. The one exception is that Message Boards top social networks when someone wants to “seek other people’s opinions.” This should serve to remind us of the power of a well-moderated, well-used message board, too!

All types of sharing are universally migrating to social networks. Looking more closely, uploading photos and videos to online sharing sites has leveled off but uploading photos and videos to social networking sits has grown over 200% in two years, as noted in Figure 11 from the study:

Additionally, while blogging has stabilized (or declined, in the case of reading personal blogs), writing a blog on a social network is the only form of blogging that has increased.

2. Twitter is not dead (at least not worldwide)

Ok, not actually a surprise. Though Twitter adoption has slowed in North America, it has jumped worldwide from 15% usage in July 2009 to almost 33% in July 2010. If you want to reach an international audience, use Twitter to reach new audiences and move people to care, and act.

3. Develop your branded online community

There is a BIG decline in the number of people who are visiting official brand websites. Contrary to that, Wave 5 notes the BIG rise in the number of people worldwide who have become an online fan of a brand. This would include a nonprofit organization’s Facebook Page, private online community, YouTube channel, etc. See Figure 21 from the Wave 5 study, below:

This study was not prepared with the nonprofit sector in mind, and was generalized across all segments of the population. That noted, over 50% of the respondents said that they affiliated with a branded online community in order to support a cause. I also found intriguing the other reasons listed for affiliating: to associate with something that is cool, to learn more about it, to get advance news on a product, and more. Think about these takeaways: If you run a youth-oriented nonprofit, how can you make it cool? If you offer nonprofit software, can you offer advance news about upcoming features and releases? Cross-apply Figure 24 with your organization’s audience to help focus your branded community.

4. When people join a brand community online, they feel more positive and loyal toward the brand

I’ve read this before, but it’s great to see it validated worldwide.

Clearly, online community supporters ARE your more loyal fans, they WILL visit the website from an online social network community, and they are a strong source for finding new online supporters. Treat them with respect, and grow your loyal fans into the online evangelists that they could become.

So much great data from Wave 5. What are your takeaways?



Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

Follow Debra

Subscribe via email




© 2020 Social Media Strategy for Mission-Driven Organizations.

Site by Arrow Root Media