Marketing in the 2010s: The Social Media Decade
By Chris Le'Cand-Harwood
Welcome to 2019. And the final year of a decade when social media became a big deal in so many ways.
2010 feels like an age ago, and for marketing much longer than that. "The teens" is a decade where marketing had to wrap its head around social media and see it change the way we think about marketing to future customers, students and employees.
The Social Media Decade?
Social media has defined so much of digital life this decade. Over the past 9 years I’ve seen quarterly and annual reports show social media eating into people’s online activity. I’ve seen businesses take it more seriously each year and clients move it front and centre of their marketing efforts. It’s been a game changer.
We have reached a point when being online means being on social media. The Global Web Index’s Nov 2018 Social Media Report, asked over 400,000 people about how they use social. This is something they’ve been doing for most of this decade and we now see social media deeply rooted in our lives:
- 98% of digital consumers are using social media (55-64 year olds aren’t far behind at 94%)
- An average day sees users spending 2hrs 22m on social…compared to 1hr 30m in 2012 (for 16-24 year olds this increases to 3hrs 01m)
- People have an average of 8 social media accounts. That’s twice as much as it was in 2013
- Mobiles are the primary device for social media as the importance of PCs and laptops have been declining significantly in the second half of the decade
- Video, powered by broadband and the arrival of 4G, is a format on social (and just wait and see the impact of 5G!)
We also can’t underestimate the impact social media has had on society. Seismic political events such as the Trump presidency and Brexit have brought social media platforms to the centre of the conversation. The influence of social media on the growing pains of children and teens has also brought social media well and truly into parenting, education and mental health.
Who has defined the decade?
The playing field has been dominated by established companies but we’ve still seen constant innovation, largely driven by competition from early-decade up starts.
Facebook dominated the decade and continues to be top of the pile: 85% of online users have a Facebook account. YouTube has also maintained its popularity and isn’t far behind with 79%. They enjoy a combined community of over 4 billion monthly users (1.9 billion on YouTube and 2.2 billion on Facebook). This is extremely impressive for what are seen as ‘old’ companies in today’s terms.
Messaging apps have become a big deal over the decade with 72% using Facebook Messenger and 66% using WhatsApp (well done Facebook for getting into the messaging app world early on). Expect to see messaging apps become more wedded to our lives in 2019.
Instagram is looking like another piece of great business by Facebook with the app being used by 63% of digital consumers. The end of the decade looks very different for Twitter as their popularity now sits back in fifth place at 56%. And LinkedIn? Their professional user base sees them at 40% and making great strides to be the place for all of the world’s professionals.
Snap(chat) entered as a camera company, not a social network. Evan Spiegel understood how the camera was going to become the main way to communicate. Why make a call or send a text when you have a camera that can take photos and video, right? This is something that comes naturally to people who grew up with smartphones (and not so naturally to people who grew up with phones that just made calls and sent text messages). While Instagram has been a massive challenger to Snapchat, the camera company enjoys 40% market share globally with a devoted Gen Z community.
What does this means for business (and marketers)?
It’s meant big business. This decade we’ve seen social media companies become the talk of Wall Street and big money deals. Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion and WhatsApp for $20 billion. LinkedIn was bought by Microsoft for $26.2 billion. Twitter its worth $4.4 billion. Snap Inc is worth nearly $7 billion. In June 2018, Bloomberg said Instagram would be worth £100 billion as a standalone company. In May 2018 Morgan Stanley pegged YouTube’s value at $160 billion.
This is because ad dollars and pounds follow audiences. For example, Facebook’s latest quarterly earnings are $13.7 billion with the vast majority of this coming from advertising. eMarketer anticipates Facebook’s ad revenue to reach nearly $60 billion in 2019.
The latest CMO Survey shows investment in social media increasing to 16.3% marketing budgets over the next 12 months. That’s expected to reach 22.9% within the next 5 years.
At the start of the decade it was why social media. Now it’s all about the how on social media. This has brought challenges to marketers who want to engage with potential students, employees and customers. The sheer pace of change caused by better phones, bigger bandwidth and very agile and innovative social media companies has meant marketeers have to keep on their toes like never before. Seflies, filters, lenses, stickers, bitmojis, live streams, augmented reality, virtual reality, hashtags, emojis and stories are words that didn’t exist in mainstream marketing at the start of the decade. Now you can’t avoid them.
In a world where 400 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute and 500 million tweets are sent each day it’s crucial to cut through the noise. There are various studies into how much noise this is: a person can see anything between 4,000 and 10,000 brand messages a day depending on what research you read. That’s not to mention messages from news, friends and family.
As we approach the 2020s marketing will finally realise the potential of the popular phrase, content is king. It won’t be enough to be on social. And it certainly won’t be enough to bombard people with products, courses and job opportunities. Whether you’re in consumer, education or employer marketing you will be creating content that will earn the attention of your target audience because it truly adds value to their lives. It’s a challenging brief but one that will make the next decade of marketing the most exciting one yet.
Chris leads content marketing strategy at SMRS and has been working on social media for over 10 years. Chris and the team will be running social media and content masterclasses through 2019 so please get in touch if you are interested in attending one of them.