Oct 26 2008

Universal McCann: Social Networking for Making New Friends, Blogging for Socializing with Friends

by at 2:31 pm

In my earlier post on the recently published Universal McCann study, I had written about how we use different communication channels to stay in touch with our contacts.

Perhaps the most important insight in the Universal McCaan study is that we use the internet for expanding our network of contacts but use the mobile phone to maintain our current network.

Here’s another interesting insight from the Universal McCann report: we use social networks for making new friends and personal blogs for socializing with friends —

Universal McCann Social Media Study

In the previous post, we found that Brazilians and the Indians are amongst the most social online whereas the Americans are amongst the least social. The same trend can be seen here.

While differences in culture partly explain this significant difference in online social behavior, self-selection is also part of the explanation. Given the low penetration of the internet in Brazil and India, social media usage in these countries suffers from a serious early adopter bias.

But, let’s return to the idea that we use social networks for making new friends and personal blogs for socializing with friends. The idea presumes that our social network profile is more public than our personal blog, and I think that it’s indeed the case for most of us. I’m sure that many active social network users who have hundreds of friends on Facebook or Orkut have personal blogs that are rarely updated and read only by a few close friends and family members.

However, many of us have built substantial readerships for our blogs and use them as much for broadcasting as for socializing. For us, the opposite is likely to hold true. We meet new readers through the blog, interact with them via the comment section, e-mail or internet messenger, become friends with them, and then add them as a friend on Facebook or Orkut. I think that Twitter and FriendFeed are more similar to blogs than social networks on the broadcasting/ socializing continuum, in the sense that they are also hybrids, used both for broadcasting and socializing.

What’s the directionality for you? Do you make new social network friends via your blog or do your social network friends become readers for your blog? Do share your experiences in the comments section.

One response so far | Categories: 2008-09 Fellows,Brazil,BRIC,China,Gaurav Mishra,India,Russia,Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Oct 23 2008

Universal McCann Study: Indians Have the Highest Number of Personal Contact Points Across Communication Channels

by at 9:47 pm

BRIC Social Circles

I had earlier used data from the Wave 3 of the Power of the People Social Media Tracker by Universal McCann to do a comparative analysis of social media usage in BRIC countries.

Now Universal McCann has published some more findings from the same study in another report titled When did we start trusting strangers? How the internet turned us all into influencers. The report is a treasure trove of interesting findings on how digital media is changing how we look at relationships and influence and I’m sure that I’ll return to it often in subsequent posts.

However, in this post, I want to focus on Universal Mccann’s findings on how we stay in touch with our personal contacts —

The evolution of the web as a social platform and primary communication channel has had a dramatic impact on the scale and nature of our friendship networks. Figure 8 shows the global average number of friends and personal acquaintances we maintain via different forms of communication including face to face, digital and letters.

The amazing truth is that the web has massively expanded the size of our social platforms and virtualised a large proportion of our daily contact. Today, although we still maintain an average of 35 friendships face to face, it is rapidly being equalled by email with an average of 32, social networks with 30 and Instant Messenger with 29.

Interestingly these all rank above SMS or phone calls, which shows that PC based internet is for expanding networks, while mobile is for maintaining current ones.

The nature of friendship is changing from voice to text and written word. This is a significant change in the ability to influence and share opinions as it’s much easier to do in text – communication is more frequent and can include additional information like links, videos and photos.

It’s important that we keep four clarifications in mind as we think about these numbers —

– These are the average number of people the respondents stay in touch with regularly in their personal life through each communication channel. These are not the number of people in their phone- or computer-based contact list, which is likely to be much higher.

– There is likely to be a large overlap between the number of people the respondents stays in touch with using different communications channel. So, the sum of these numbers is the number of total contact points and not the number of contacts itself.

– “Staying in touch” can mean different things in different cultures and these numbers do not capture the frequency of use of these communication channels.

– These numbers are based on responses from active internet users in the 16-54 age group, who aren’t representative of the overall population, especially in the BRIC countries who have very low internet penetrations.

While the worldwide figures are interesting in themselves, the country-wise comparisons are even more illuminating.

At the overall level, the Indians are the most social with 292 contact points, followed by the Brazilians at 260 contact points and the Chinese at 234 contact points. The world average is 194 contact points while Americans are rather asocial at 110 contact points.

Face-to-face, the Indians (42 contacts) and the Brazilians (38 contacts) are very social, the Chinese not so (28 contacts) and the Americans even less so (20 contacts).

On social networks, the Brazilians (52 contacts) and the Indians (43 contacts) are also hyper-social, which probably connects with the Brazilian/ Indian obsession with the rather open social network Orkut. The Americans, who are more mindful of online privacy, prefer the more controlled environment of Facebook and stay in touch with only 17 contacts.

Both the Indians (with 36 contacts) and the Chinese (with 32 contacts) like to stay in touch with SMS, while both the Brazilians and the Chinese (with 49 contacts each) extensively use instant messengers to stay in touch with friends.

The Indians, in fact, are truly channel agnostic and heavily use the phone (45 contacts) and letters (24 contacts) to stay in touch with personal contacts.

Finally, the Chinese have truly embraced personal blogs and use it to stay in touch with as many as 26 contacts, almost the same as the 28 face-to-face contacts.

I have always thought of myself as a introvert, but I regularly (that is, at least once a month) stay in touch with a surprisingly large number of friends — 50+ face to face, 50+ by e-mail, at least 100+ by social networks, less than 5 by instant messenger, 20+ by phone, 20+ by test message, 20+ by personal blog and none by letters, totaling to at least 250-300 contact points.

What about you? What is your preferred communication channel? What is the number of your contact points?

No responses yet | Categories: 2008-09 Fellows,Brazil,BRIC,China,Culture,Gaurav Mishra,India,Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sep 05 2008

Growth in Penetration of Social Media Usage in BRIC Countries

by at 10:31 am

This post is in response to Ben’s comment on my earlier post on social media usage in BRIC countries

Something happened in 2008 specifically that led to a large increase in worldwide participation. What was it? Look at the percentages of increase from 2007 to 2008 compared to 2006 and before. Was it a maturation of blogging software?

I think different social media usage behaviors are at different maturation levels in different countries. Continue Reading »

No responses yet | Categories: 2008-09 Fellows,BRIC,Gaurav Mishra,Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Sep 02 2008

A Comparative Analysis of Social Media Usage in BRIC Countries

by at 5:29 pm

In this post, I have used data from Wave 3 of the Power of the People Social Media Tracker by Universal McCann (PDF/ Slideshare) 1 to do a comparative analysis of social media usage in BRIC countries (see original spreadsheets and charts).

At the top level, the total number of active internet users 2 in BRIC countries (101.2m) is higher than the number of active internet users in US (100m), even though internet penetration is a low 5.28%.

Even more surprisingly, significantly more users from BRIC countries than US engage with social media tools, both in terms of content consumption (watching online video 90.1m vs 74.2m, reading blogs 88.1m vs 60.3m, downloading podcasts 70.2m vs 29.5m, subscribing to RSS feeds 54.4m vs 18.6m) and content creation (creating blogs 60.2m vs 26.4m, creating social network profiles 68.3m vs 43.0m, uploading photos 71.2m vs 47.1m, uploading videos 57.3m vs 25.3m). Continue Reading »

5 responses so far | Categories: 2008-09 Fellows,BRIC,Gaurav Mishra,Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,