If Abraham Maslow were alive, he’d tell us, “Told you so.” Social media’s rise to prominence in the Internet Age just confirms what the famous psychologist theorized in his Hierarchy of Needs many decades ago. Human beings have an overwhelming need to belong. Communities are popping up everywhere, and rapidly growing in numbers. People are sharing and interacting more and more with each passing minute.
Naysayers who pronounced that social media is nothing more than a fad may have to think twice. Universal McCann released a report on social media trends based on their worldwide survey. This is the third wave of this ongoing study of active Internet users (those who go online everyday or every other day), and the results show that from the first survey in 2006 to the latest one earlier this year, key markers have gone up across the board.
Video. It’s the fastest-growing social media platform. Asked if they’ve ever watched clips online, 82.9% responded with a “yes”, in contrast with the first survey in 2006 when it was only 31%. The current figure translates to roughly 394 million pairs of eyes – a huge market by any standards. Curiously, people are also shedding their passive restraints. From just over 20% last year, 38.5% of users have now uploaded clips on video-sharing sites.
Blogs. Second only to videos in terms of reach, 72.8% of active Internet users read blogs, personal and otherwise. That’s 346 million readers, and 21% of them said they visit blogs every single day. In terms of content generation, 184 million readers said they also write on their own blogs. That’s 38.7% of the population, in comparison to last year when it was a little over 30%. Another form of blogging content generation is leaving comments, and this year 54.8% of those surveyed said they’ve done so – much better than last year’s 43%.
Photos. Sites where users can share their pictures also gained in their popularity. A good 63.2% revealed that they’ve visited one or more of these sites, up from around 53% in 2007. Among different media (video, text, audio, images), users seem to be most eager to share photos with 52.2% having uploaded their snapshots online.
Social Networks. One of the most closely followed platforms right now, 57.3% of active users indicated that they’ve created a profile on a social network. This is a big jump from the 36% gathered from the year before. The global picture isn’t a two-prong battle of MySpace and Facebook, but a much more segmented regional market.
It’s clear from all this data that people are becoming engaged in online discussions and letting their voices heard. All over the world, the trend is towards participation, from places like the Philippines, to India, to the Netherlands, to the US. The next generation will grow up differently from all of us, who were raised in one-way consumption of the TV, radio, movies and newspapers. Doubtless, this emerging powerful media has a huge potential for businesses. However, they have to adapt and do it quickly to capitalize on this trend, or they may very well go the way of the dodo.