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What Social Marketers Need to Know From the 2017 Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report

Mary Meeker’s annual KPCB Internet Trends Report is a legendary and much-anticipated document for every person in business, not just social marketers.


That’s perhaps why it is so valuable: because it contextualizes the trends that social marketers are noticing and experiencing every day. This year’s report gave a welcome-but-exhaustive overview of global trends before delving into more specific topics like interactive games, the cloud, healthcare, and more. It even included some Simply Measured data!

But it’s a lot to get through; we did it so you don’t have to. (P.S. Interested in checking out last year’s breakdown? Go here.) Here’s what social marketers need to know from this year’s KPCB report for digital marketers, and how you can incorporate these lessons into your own strategy.

Mobile Continues to Grow

U.S. adults spend more than three hours per day interacting with digital media on their mobile devices, up from less than one hour only five years ago. Where the users are, the advertising will go. As mobile minutes increase, mobile advertising has grown, too. Advertising dollar growth is higher for mobile than desktop now.


As the shift to mobile usage continues, the KPCB report highlights a $16 billion opportunity for brands to advertise on mobile and match the percentage of mobile media consumers.


Why It Matters to the Social Marketer: Guess who is getting the bulk of advertising revenue? Google and Facebook. For the social marketer’s perspective, we’ll focus on Facebook. More than 54% of Facebook users access the network solely via mobile. Facebook continues to roll out new ad products and more sophisticated targeting features, as we saw at this year’s F8 conference.

In 2017, make sure you are shifting budget (or campaigning to shift budget) to Facebook ads, so you can take advantage of the $16 billion mobile-social advertising opportunity to get your content and product in front of the eyes most likely to buy. Keep an eye out for the different kinds of advertising that Facebook offers, and match the right kind to your business and goals. If you need more information on building a conversion-based Facebook campaign, go here. 

ROI Is a Challenge, and Data Is Scary

The KPCB report found that, as marketers spend more money on social ads, they are sometimes demoralized by the results.

This is not just true for social media ads: it’s also true for social media marketing efforts generally. The KPCB report used some stats from our very own 2016 State of Social Report to tell this story.

Why It Matters to the Social Marketer: Need to show ROI? Invest in the analytics so you can show how your campaigns, content, and strategies are impacting the full funnel. 

User-Generated Content Drives User Engagement

Many of you social marketers are screaming “DUH” at your mobile devices or computer screens. This has become common knowledge and practice for many of us. But now that it’s in the KPCB report, it’s officially true! User-generated content drives significant user engagement—often more than brand-generated content, thanks to the sense of authenticity and sense of community that this content creates.

The KPCB report used research from our 2016 State of Social Report to list some of the top brands that are leveraging UGC on Instagram (perhaps the strongest channel for UGC), from Red Bull to Sephora.

Why It Matters to the Social Marketer: If you aren’t leveraging user-generated content, now’s the time to start. If you are already leveraging user-generated content, consider running an analysis comparing your success (however you define that—engagement, conversions, etc.) with brand-generated posts vs. user-generated posts to understand the impact of your UGC, and maybe even incorporate the attributes of your UGC (visual style, influential social users, voice) into your brand posts and overall brand strategy.

Customer Service on Social Is Expected

Hear, hear! This “bar-raising” has made great customer service—specifically on social—a non-option for brands that want to remain competitive. Today’s customer expects to interact with your brand at the first touchpoint he or she thinks of, and for many, this is social media. The often public nature of social customer service adds an extra layer of accountability for brands.

Why It Matters to the Social Marketer: As you can observe in the slide above, people list “easier access to online support channels” and “faster agent response time” as the two major customer service improvements they’d like to see. Social media can solve both these problems. Social media customer service provides “easier access to online support channels” by existing where your customers already are: on social. Social media customer service also solves for the second concern, “faster agent response time,” by its very nature: quick, direct communication.

The caveat here is to first find the social channel(s) where your customers spend the most time. This will vary largely from industry to industry, and even brand to brand. Use a listening solution to find out where your customers are, and proactively find customer service opportunities before they spin out of control.

Holistic Marketing Is Key

The KPCB Report cites as a prime example of how an engaged community and great customer service combine for business success. It also cites Glossier as an example of how content marketing and user-generated influencer content can combine powerfully for business success.

The common theme here? Holistic marketing. Even the smallest brands can’t afford to just be good at one piece of the puzzle. Success relies on connecting with your ideal customer at every possible touchpoint.

Why It Matters to the Social Marketer: Have an online presence? It needs to reflect your offline presence. Experimenting with influencers (AKA external content)? Make sure your internal content hub is robust enough to support these partnerships. Building an engaged community on Twitter? Make sure you’re not just engaging when things are good, but providing optimal customer service—or knowing where to direct folks when they have questions and concerns. Remember that all your systems should speak to one another. Let’s take the silo out of social.

Personalized and Niche Marketing for the Win

The days of big, blanket messages and megaphone marketing are over. I love this slide.

I mentioned the funnel above, and here’s a different kind of funnel: the continual expansion of content options for digital users, which leads to narrower, more specific options for these consumers. Spotify is a terrific example of how an organization can find success by tailoring content to individual users with personalized recommendations and data at its heart.

Why It Matters to the Social Marketer: You should be creating different content for each different stage of your funnel, and rotating through this content on a regular basis. For instance, you should have an entirely different social strategy, approach, and suite of content for folks in the awareness phase (just getting to know about your brand) than you do for folks in the advocacy phase (current customers you’re trying to engage with more deeply).

You should also be getting as personalized as your time and resources allow, whether that is responding directly to individual users or investing in highly-targeted paid campaigns.

Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook Are Big Video Players

The 2017 KPCB Report really drives home the point that Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook are major players in the video space, noting Snapchat’s short-form content programming in particular.

This comes as no surprise, especially with Facebook’s stated goal to be a visual-first video platform in 2017, but it’s interesting seeing these social networks compared to more “traditional” video stream providers, like iTunes and Netflix. It also shows us what a threat these social networks can be to those more “traditional” video stream providers.

Why It Matters to the Social Marketer: It’s time to invest in video, whether that means using Facebook Live, working with a full production team, or hiring an agency to help you create engaging, conversion-causing video for social. Social is a ripe marketing channel for video consumption, and the numbers don’t lie.

This may seem like a ton of information, but it’s just an appetizer. There is SO MUCH MORE of value in this report. Check it out here, and download our own guide below if you want some lessons from the Forbes Most Valuable Brands that you can apply in your organization today.

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10 Social Marketing Lessons from Forbes Most Valuable Brands


Lucy Hitz

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.

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