A recent study released by Universal McCann reveals that we are immersed the fourth wave of internet usage that is being defined by social network participation. Their study notes that social networks are becoming the dominant platform for personal interaction and content creation and distribution.
The global internet audience now totals 625 million people, with almost 100 million of those users located in the United States. Nearly two-thirds of these users are active in one or more social networks.
What’s also revealed is how these users spend their time on the social networks. The most popular activity was watching video, followed by listening to streaming audio, blogging and connecting with friends.
What does this mean for you or your industry?
First of all, the place to connect with people – whether personally or professionally – is on one of the social networks. They’ve made their choice how they want to interact with others, and it’s not through email. For professionals, this typically means LinkedIn, though Facebook is being used more and more by professionals who have learned to adjust their privacy settings so as not to share overly personal information with other professional contacts.
These trends also mean that you need to generate content that is interesting, engaging and compelling enough to generate views and inspire your connections to share your content with their own network of friends and colleagues. The dominant format for this content: video. If you’re not creating videos to put on your site, your blog, your LinkedIn page, your Facebook Fan Page, then it’s time to start.
But don’t stop with video. Over 70% of social networkers also post photos to their pages. People want to see who they’re connecting with, and a thoughtfully designed series of photos can generate a powerful impression. For the professional, these can include images of your office, your personal workspace, your coworkers and even photos from events that you participate in. Sharing some personal visual insights will increase your familiarity, strengthening your connections with your networks.
Finally, if your company really wants to engage online, you need to create a community that’s worth joining. That means frequently updated, compelling content. The promise of interaction with other, like-minded people. A thoughtful, meaningful – even delightful – user experience. And the ability to listen to your community members and adjust your activities to satisfy their needs, not yours.