Research: High social media usage set to change brand engagement strategy

New research from TNS showing rising social media IM messaging may impact the way brands create sharable content for consumers

A new report showing soaring social media IM usage and greater app engagement means the pressure is on brands to generate more creative content consumers actually want to share.

The new research from Connected Life is based on a study of more than 60,000 Internet users worldwide from global research consultancy, TNS, and showed popularity of instant messaging (IM) has soared over the past year.

The report revealed a 10 per cent uplift in daily usage in Australia and 12 per cent globally as more people opted for closed messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat, a new report found.

According to the report, 40 per cent of Internet users in Australia are on instant messaging every day, with the most popular Facebook Messenger (23 per cent) followed by iMessage (10 per cent) and Whatsapp (10 per cent).

The report also showed 50 per cent of Internet users use social media daily, with Facebook is far the favourite social network at 53 per cent. Instagram trailed at 16 per cent and Twitter at 11 per cent.

While newer platforms attract a smaller audience overall, they are often far more active. For example, 40 per cent of Vine users globally and 44 per cent of Snapchat users say they watch branded content on those platforms every week, while 43 per cent of WeChat’s user base uses it to access information and services about a company.

And while IM popularity is rising, traditional social media platforms are still holding strong, allowing content to go viral more quickly. The challenge for brands moving forward, is to create content that consumers actually want to share.

Connected Life's global director, Joseph Webb, said apps like Snapchat, WeChat, Line and WhatsApp are sweeping up new users every day, particularly younger consumers who want to share experiences with a smaller, specific group, rather than using public, mainstream platforms like Facebook or Twitter.

“As people’s online habits become more fragmented, brands need to tap into the growing popularity of IM and other emerging platforms,” he said. “The need for a content-driven approach across IM, social and traditional channels has never been clearer.

“Yet at the same time, brands need to be very careful. Instant messaging is a more closed medium, meaning it is essential to share limited content that is genuinely relevant and valuable.”

Looking at the APAC region generally, IM is now becoming a daily part of life, but Webb said there are still no clear leaders.

“There’s definitely no ‘one size fits all’ approach for using IM to engage with consumers in Asia,” he said. “While we are seeing strong user bases for Facebook messenger, WeChat and Whatsapp, there are also diverse leaders across the region, many of whom are bespoke to that market. Marketers need to be constantly alert to where their consumer is spending time and ensure that they engage meaningfully and appropriately with them on the most used platforms.”

Further research from TNS showed that although IM users are wary of brands interrupting them, they are more concerned with how content they share impacts their own image.

“How to get the most out of TV used to be the biggest challenge for advertisers,” Webb explained. “Now it’s about moving from a broadcast to a content creation model that gets people talking and sharing across different platforms.”

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