The big brand opportunity
08 October 2012
You’d have to be living in a cave, or perhaps North Korea, not to realise how Facebook has transformed the way consumers experience media.
In the last three years, GlobalWebIndex has tracked the incredible growth of Facebook from social upstart to the central pillar of the global internet.
Yes there is evidence of sliding engagement in the original Facebook markets, primarily the US. However as our latest report – Social Platforms Global Adoption Trends 2012 – shows this is more than compensated for by massive growth in the emerging world.
The sliding value of its shares may have rocked confidence in the platform but marketers and advertisers have a huge opportunity to build global brands if they understand three key lessons.
Firstly they need to appreciate Facebook’s global reach. Facebook is truly global in a way that traditional media owners are simply not. Brands can now reach consumers across the world and build a global positioning in any market with Facebook.
Thanks to soaring adoption in emerging internet markets, usage and rapid growth any concerns regarding lower internet penetration should be cast aside. This is no longer relevant.
Today in the 31 markets we track Facebook has more than 1 billion accounts with 64% being (653 million) active users (in the past month) of which 43% (273 million) were active via mobile.
In 2009, the US had 73 million active users in 2012 this was 102 million, a more than respectable growth rate. However in the same period Brazil grew from 6.9 million to 50 million and India went from 18 million to an incredible 77 million. This is thanks not just to a shift from Orkut and local providers to Facebook but primarily due to a massive expansion of internet adoption bringing tens of millions of people online, consumers who create a Facebook profile as a default.
Continued growth will without doubt drive Facebook onto 2 billion accounts, which according to our data, will happen in Q4 2014. In all probability by that point the US will no longer be the largest market on Facebook. That title will belong to India.
The second benefit is that advertising is changing. In a world where content is self selected, there are fewer opportunities for traditional interruption-based messages.
In this post-advertising world, the upside for marketers is that emerging market consumers are so active and so willing to engage and share branded content. Get Facebook right and the need to support presence and content with advertising is minimal. It’s a great opportunity to build global brands at a fraction of the cost of using traditional media.
Finally, there is the power of content. As social media usage becomes increasingly passive and shifts from peer-to-peer messaging creates an opportunity for brands to deliver a global content strategy using users as the distribution channel. The future opportunity of social is less about conversation and more about content.
We are increasingly relying on Facebook and other social networks to tell us things, keep us up to date with new content and allow us to follow our icons and passions. Consequently contribution levels are falling globally with messaging friends falling 16% to 69% of Facebook users in Q2 2011 and is a trend that is particularly marked in the US.
As users become increasingly turn to people in the public eye or well-known organisations, for interesting content, social will eventually operate as the primary distributor of media, particularly as it becomes integrated into smart TVs and via second-screen integration.
This could also be good news for Facebook as well, as it’s much easier to monetise quality content and experiences than peer-to-peer communication.
Tom Smith, founder, GlobalWebIndex