This past week, members of our team participated in U.S. Commercial Service’s Discover Global Markets Program: E-Commerce Strategies for Exporters in Dallas, Texas.
In addition to sponsoring the program and participating in roundtable discussions on social media and online marketing initiatives, I spoke on a panel discussing trends and best practices in digital marketing, with a focus on social media and mobile device adoption.
From the conference agenda:
This session will provide an overview of international digital marketing trends, focusing on Social Media and Mobile Marketing. Learn about the best social media platforms to engage international customers, with special considerations on reaching the mobile customer and how move them to your e-commerce site. Finally learn how to bring it all together – determine the right strategies and platforms for your international marketing campaign.
Here is a summary of information provided, some of the key takeaways, and references for review.
Global Digital Marketing Snapshot
First, here is a broad overview of digital marketing trends, specific to social media, mobile device usage, and the growth of mobile social, released by We Are Social, this past August.
- Over 3.1 billion active users online (+7.6% year over year growth in users online or +225 million)
- Over 2.2 billion active social media profiles (+8% year over year growth or +176 million)
- Over 3.7 billion unique mobile users (+3% year over year growth or +124 million)
- And most significantly, over 1.9 billion active social media profiles accessed through mobile devices (+23% year over year growth or +365 million; nearly 20% growth since the beginning of the year)
Specific to the growth of mobile device adoption and its impact on online behavior, Google indicated earlier this year that “more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan.” (via article on Search Engine Land).
Top Social Media Platforms (by Active Users)
So what are the top social media platforms marketers and business leaders need to consider as they consider a program across international markets? Here is a look at the top social media platforms by active users, based on data collected through We Are Social in coordination with the GlobalWebIndex.
- Facebook (1.49B) / Facebook Messenger (700M or 40% growth since beginning of the year) – Even with the significant growth in adoption of Facebook Messenger, the combined giant amongst social media platforms actually appears to be losing ground to WhatsApp over the past year.
- QQ (832M)
- WhatsApp (800M or 33% growth since the beginning of the 2015. Remember this platform was acquired by Facebook in late last year.)
- QZone (668M)
- WeChat (549M)
- Twitter (316M)
- Skype (300M)
- Instagram (300M)
- Baidu Tieba (300M)
- Google+ (300M – down 10% since beginning of year)
- Viber (249M)
- Tumblr (230M)
- Other notable social media platforms and messaging systems: Line (205M), Snapchat (200M), Sina Weibo (176M), Vkontakte (100M), LinkedIn (97M)
Take note of the fact that all of the top platforms have a significant mobile emphasis; two of which are specifically messenging platforms. It’s also worth nothing that with the acquisition of WhatsApp this past year, Facebook’s combined reach is nearly 3 billion and continuing to grow.
And finally, even though Google has lost market share in its specific (and quite possibly soon to be retired) social channel, Google+, keep in mind that more than 1 billion users are on YouTube (arguably a social platform in itself) and there are more than 900 million Gmail users (where a vast majority of information collection by Google could be realized).
Considerations for Global Exporters & Marketers
With the help of my discussion panel colleagues (Rob Howe of Splash Media, Simon Hjorth of AdPeople, and Sean Duffy for The Duffy Agency) here is a recap of a few key discussion points addressed during our panel.
- Common Pitfalls – it seems obvious but don’t ignore good translation, market research (particularly when choosing social media platforms and tactics), and establishing performance benchmarks across tactics. Don’t spread yourself or your organization too thin; particularly when establishing an initial, international social media presence.
- Scaling on a Limited Budget – Organizations do not need to invest in every social media platform in every location. Focus on just one or two key platforms, establishing an initial, professional (and complete) presence. Consistency is key in building quality relationships. Set up an editorial calendar to identify action items, responsibilities, and coordination in association with important dates and milestones.
- Strategy First – when making decisions on platforms, tactics, and vendor partners, focus on the application of your business strategy first. It is critical to understand and communicate how each decision will have an impact or provide benefit to the organization’s broader business initiatives.
Resources for Global Exporters & Marketers
Lastly, here are resources and references I discussed during our panel that might aid in the process of social media management and adapting your website experience for the mobile user.
- Google’s Mobile Testing Tool
- Responsinator and Screenfly for testing the web experience across mobile device types.
- Google’s Guidelines for International Websites
- HootSuite for social media management and Buzzsumo for social media competitive intelligence.
- Builtvisible’s Guide to Baidu SEO (and resources we’ve published here and here)
- 30+ Ideas for Measuring Conversions on a B2B Website
- 20+ Metrics for Measuring B2B SEO Performance
- B2B SEO Strategies for Multilingual Web Content
- 6 Ways to Measure B2B Content Marketing Performance via Dun & Bradstreet Connectors
Here are slides highlighting key benchmarks and trends found across the globe, specific to social media and mobile device adoption.
Thanks go out to everyone from US Commercial Service putting together a great agenda and conference!