What Social Marketers Need to Know From Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report 2016
Mary Meeker’s annual KPCB Internet Trends Report is a legendary and much-anticipated document for every person in business. This year’s report gave an intricate overview of the global economy before delving into more specific topics relevant to us as marketers.
Here are the must-know tidbits from this year’s Report for digital marketers, and how you can incorporate these learnings into your own strategy.
Internet User Growth Is Slowing Down
The number of new Internet users worldwide is diminishing. We’re all on the Internet, and birth rates are going down globally, so this slow-down makes sense.
Why It Matters: With a smaller pool of new Internet users now and, according to the forecasts cited in this report, in the future, you will have to find novel ways to reach a relatively stagnant audience on the Internet — an especially staggering challenge in the midst of so much incoming noise from so many sources.
This applies to social, too, and the slow-down in audience growth we’re seeing on even the biggest networks. It’s time to officially divert our attention away from vanity metrics like audience growth, and instead focus on building strong communities on each of our active social networks.
2016 Instagram Strategy Kit
It’s also time to remind your broader marketing organization that a robust, engaging, and hyper-targeted (more on that later) social strategy is one of the most effective ways to understand your individual audiences and meet their diverse needs.
Advertising Dollars Are Being Spent on Google and Facebook
The KPCB Report shares that Google and Facebook own 76% of Internet advertising growth in the USA — and this percentage is rising.
Why It Matters: This verifies what most digital marketers already know: that brand awareness grows most when effort is placed behind search and social strategies. If this correlation weren’t true, brands wouldn’t be putting most of their advertising dollars behind these two channels to increase visibility.
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The same logic is true for social marketers in the non-paid space. Spend more time posting on Facebook and optimizing your strategy there, but also understand how to leverage your content (i.e. blog, product, and landing pages) on social to enhance the searchability and search rankings of your brand.
This process begins by identifying which content performs best on social, serving up this content more regularly, and hoping to create a flywheel effect by which that content begins to rank more highly on Google.
…And Ad-Blocker Usage Is Growing to Match
As more advertisers flock to Facebook and Google, more Internet users are turning to ad-blocking software to shut out the noise.
Why It Matters: With more resistance to old-fashioned, forced “billboard” advertising types and cookies among Internet users (and tools available to block these advertising methods out), brands must find new, substantial ways of reaching their target audiences.
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This is where social comes in. Social is where your brand can get creative, disseminate well-made content, startle audiences into paying attention, and experiment with strategies on a more temporary basis. Unless your brand is clearly spreading spam or worthless, offensive content on social, you likely will not be blocked by your target users. This is the social marketer’s advantage.
Snapchat Advertising Gets That Brand Awareness
And speaking of new ways to get the wearied Internet user’s attention: let’s talk emerging networks. According to this Report, Snapchat is reaping great rewards for brands who invest in video ads on that network.
Why It Matters: Consider requesting budget to advertise on Snapchat. If you can’t snag the budget, partner with influencers already popular on the network to promote brand awareness. Whichever strategy you use with Snapchat, make sure you have measurable goals, like a percentage increase in subscription numbers or certain number of views, before you devote time and resources to this platform.
Every New Marketing Channel Grows Faster Than its Predecessor
Up, up, and even further up! We’ve gone from radio to TV to Internet, and advertising expenditure has only increased through this evolution (and shows no sign of stopping).
Why It Matters: To me, “Internet” and “social” are different. I believe that “social” is an undrawn line on the chart above, and that this is (and will continue to be) the next frontier in major brand investment, both from the advertising perspective and from a resource perspective when it comes to hiring and pushing out well-considered, highly creative content.
Millennials Are Important
But you knew that already? Millennials were born between 1981-1996. Eighty-six percent of them live in cities. Twenty-eight percent of them are married. Their median income is around $62K. They’re the largest generation in the USA now, and their spending power will rise significantly in the next 10-20 years.
Why It Matters: Doesn’t sound like your target audience? Tempted to just scroll down? Better stop there, Buster. This might not be your brand’s current target audience, but chances are, it will be in a few years.
You’re Doing Social Wrong
This is where social comes in. It’s time to tweak your strategy and add another target audience into the mix. Develop a “social nurture flow,” so to speak, which slowly begins to target millennials. Begin by understanding what your particular group of millennials is talking about now, and then cultivate a conversation around them for a grassroots, non-forced feel which will appeal to them.
eCommerce Continues to Grow
In 16 years, eCommerce sales have risen from less than 2% of retail sales to 10% of retail sales. This percentage is only rising.
Why It Matters: As the Internet continues to grow as a retail distribution channel, guess what is growing in tandem? Social buying. From Shop Now buttons on almost every social network to the advent of visual-centric networks like Instagram and Pinterest, social and eCommerce have become the best of friends.
The 2015 Instagram Industry Report
Even without direct click-through from Instagram’s new ads or Shop Now buttons, your social strategy can thrive in this rich eCommerce climate.
Do your research and make sure that you are investing in the social networks that provide the most ROI for brands in your industry. This will vary from industry to industry.
A Climate in Which Products Become Brands
The KPCB Report noted a business development phenomenon that has taken root in the past few years: that of single products evolving into brands. The Report uses Casper, Warby Parker, Thrive Market, and Stitch Fix as examples.
Why It Matters: Social, where this direct-to-consumer model naturally blossoms, has been a major factor in growing these businesses. Social has been especially useful as a tool-bridging and relating the “one product” to “many products” narrative, and forming brand identity.
Confessions of a Social Media Manager
Consider focusing your social strategy around one product or product feature which you’re particularly proud of and you think will be particularly well-received with your audience. This kind of micro-focus will enable you to draw in your target audience and then slowly-but-surely expand their interest in the rest of your offerings.
Differentiated Experiences Are Valued
The KPCB Report spotlighted Stitch Fix as a great example of a business type that has taken root in the past few years and will continue to pick up steam in the future: differentiated experiences for every single customer, especially integrated with social (Pinterest, in Stitch Fix’s case).
Why It Matters: Social is the ideal place to create differentiated experiences for your customers. By collecting and analyzing the data available to you on your customers and prospective customers on your active social networks, you can make informed decisions about which kind of content you serve up to which audiences. You can also get as much customer feedback as you want. You can basically do, on social, everything that Stitch Fix does on its platform when it comes to customer insight.
…And Customer Satisfaction Rewarded with Loyalty
This positive effects of this data collection and analysis come back around for brands. Using the Stitch Fix case study again, the KPCB Report explains how strong data collection and analysis increases customer satisfaction, engagement, and wallet share for Stitch Fix.
Why It Matters: This is a clear example of how access to and understanding of your data creates direct positive business impact.
The Social Marketer’s Guide to Social Media ROI
It would be silly to think that this phenomenon only exists on websites and in emails. The data available to you about your target demographic on social — what they want, need, hate, and ignore — is staggering. Don’t miss it.
Facebook Still Leads
Among millennials, Facebook is still #1 when it comes to average monthly minutes per visitor — by a lot.
Why It Matters: Don’t give up on Facebook so you can explore emerging networks like Snapchat or focus all of your efforts on another network. Having a cross-channel strategy is important, and Facebook should be a major part of that strategy, as long as the users (and buyers) are there.
The Millennials VS. Gen Z Distinction is Important
Check out the distinction between Millennials and Gen Z in the KPCB Report. Maybe you know this already, but I didn’t, and I find it fascinating.
Why It Matters: By knowing the difference between these Millennials and Gen Z, you’ll be able to target these audiences differently on social. For instance, these audiences communicate differently, will visit different social networks for different purposes, and might react differently to the same piece of social content.
The Millennials vs. Gen Z preferences also reflects a phenomenon which continues to evolve in the social world: the visual taking-over and subsuming text in the long run.
The Era of “Real-Live” Video on Social Has Begun
Speaking of evolutions, we have experienced a fascinating evolution of video in the past twenty years — and it’s still going on.
Why It Matters: By knowing the timeline that video has traveled through, you’ll be able to understand which content you should be creating (or avoiding) on each platform. This is because you’ll understand what people want to see on each platform. Also worth noting: user-generated content’s popularity continues to rise:
If your strategy doesn’t leverage user-generated content yet, now is the time.
This might all seem like a ton of information, but it’s just an appetizer. There is SO MUCH MORE of value in this report, especially when it comes to Snapchat and social video. I highly recommend you view the whole enchilada here.
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I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.