The irresistible rise of social media marketing

In Content Strategy by Rob JohnsonLeave a Comment

Deloitte has released its fourth annual Media Consumer Survey today, which offers some interesting insights into the role social media marketing plays within a wider media context for Australian consumers, as well as some opportunities and challenges facing marketers in the coming months and years. In summary, while TV remains popular and printed media declines, the power of social media and online discovery seems to offer marketers the best opportunity to engage with audiences. As long as they don’t use advertising.

The Deloitte survey uses self-reported data from 2000 consumers across the US, Norway, China and Australia, and was conducted between March and April this year. While the broad findings tally up with those from Mary Meeker’s influential Internet Trends report (you can see a copy of that here), it is interesting to compare some of the small regional differences in behaviour and usage.

The whole report is a substantial read (there’s a video summary and a PDF copy here), but a real point of interest to content marketers is the continuing trend of social media usage, multi-tasking on screens, and the challenges of interrupting them on their favourite media platforms.

Although we all knew it was happening, a striking statistic to come out of the report has been the rapid growth in daily social media use among Australian consumers. The report says that between 2013 and this year, the total number of survey respondents engaging daily with social media has increased from 27 per cent to 59 per cent.

“The influence of social advertising is increasing faster than other media,” the report’s authors write, “and as consumers we are becoming more engaged with social channels as a route for discovery of entertainment and news content.”

They add that “the emergence of publishing in a social context feels like a contemporary newsstand and may yet offer a viable revenue model for platforms and publishers alike.

Television remains the dominant media, although it ranked equally with ‘using the internet for social or personal interests’ at 60 per cent of Australians.

By contrast, US and Norwegian consumers put TV slightly higher up the list (64 per cent and 61 per cent respectively, which may be within the survey’s margin or error anyway). The popularity of TV is skewed by older demographics, though—it’s baby boomers and their parents (at 70 per cent and 75 per cent) who are pushing the numbers up.

The total amount of time spent watching TV has gone up from 16.6 hours in 2014 to 17.2 hours now. TV networks will no doubt jump on that figure as proof of the medium’s dominance. However, even though it claims the lion’s share of advertising, the stats make clear it has nothing like the lion’s share of attention from consumers: 85 per cent of respondents multi-task while watching TV at home, a six per cent increase from last year.

And what are they doing?

Previously it was surfing the web (29 per cent said so last year). Now, it’s all about social media. And even during the TV programs that people are most passionate about (sports and news), a minimum of three quarters of respondents are multi-tasking around topics that have nothing to do with the TV program they’re watching.

Where this pattern of usage is really interesting is around the efficacy of advertising. When people talked about watching TV on devices other than the TV (like their tablet or on a computer)—three quarters said they multitask more while watching TV ads than digital or online ads.

TV ads still remain the dominant form of advertising, however, coming in second after recommendations from family, friends and acquaintances. Online reviews are nearly as influential as TV now. But generally, display advertising on any digital platform continues to decline in influence.

The devices they are using? Smartphones, which, at 81 per cent, equals the number of television screens. In fact, when you take the oldest demographic out of the equation, mobile phones become even more important, outstripping TV among Millenials and Xers.

What do people crave in the future? Search. Or more accurately, ‘discovery’—an interesting challenge for discovery engines. ‘Simpler ways to search and find content’ was identified by 22 per cent of respondents as the most important thing to improve their viewing experience.

So in summary, for marketing to work effectively, it needs to be on a digital platform, deliverable within a social environment, and not look like a display ad. Little wonder that content marketing and native advertising are getting as much attention as they are.

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