A 2014 Snapshot of the Social Landscape for Brand Owners & Managers

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The Ever Changing World of Social Media for Brands
We recently came across this great infographic which shows an up-to-date snapshot of the main social media channels. The social landscape continues to morph with some substantial new trends emerging that every brand owner, marketer and manager must stay abreast of.

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Facebook still rules the roost with an almost unbelievable 1 billion active users. facebook has been a rich channel for several years for consumer brands to connect and stay connected with their customers. However, facebook has engineered some significant changes to the way their platform works for businesses. Facebook now controls the flow of content on their users pages (specifically company and brand pages). Regardless of how many people choose to follow a brand on facebook, there is no-longer any guarantee they’ll receive the posts from that facebook page. Facebook now distributes posts to only a small percentage of people who have liked a brand’s page. Reportedly the plan is to slash ‘organic page reach’ to just 1-2% of page followers, with some of the bigger brands (those with hundreds of thousands of ‘likes’ already reduced to around 2%). Done under the guise of ‘reducing advertising’ in the feeds of their users, facebook is showing a distinct lack of understanding of the role brands play in the lives of contemporary consumers when they are connected by a shared passion. It appears this is nothing but a play for revenue, with facebook offering to boost that percentage of message distribution for a price. Either way, this change is causing rumblings of discontent amongst both brand owners and consumers who are understandably cranky about anyone controlling their flow of content. 12 months ago it was unimaginable that facebook might loose their mantle as THE social channel for brands, but with recent changes, it appears more than an outside chance. As user numbers for facebook decline for the first time in history, this is a space worth watching.

This micro blogging site continues to grow in both users, content and popularity with brands. With 560 million active users Twitter is definitely a channel brands should be using to connect with their consumers. But don’t open this can of worms unless you’re ready to spend alot of time talking to them. Twitter is about conversations in more or less real time with the brand or staff representing the brand directly. Those businesses leveraging the hell out of Twitter are doing plenty of business through the channel, from taking bookings to managing complaints and answering product inquiries. AS social consumers leave facebook, Twitter is likely to gain further in popularity.

By it’s very graphic nature, Instagram is a social channel well suited to consumer brands with visual content. The concept of sharing photos (and now short videos) provides a richly, personal platform for brands to connect with pics of their people, activities, product (including development) and the lives behind the brand. Although 150 million users means this channel pails into comparison with some of its mates on this list, this channel is the preferred social network with a whole new generation (anecdotally those who aren’t attracted to facebook). Whilst ostensibly a photo sharing site, the manner in which younger users are adapting the ‘comments and direct messaging’ functionality is creating a whole new facebook oriented use of the site.

The other interesting trend is Google+. With 400 million active users, Google+ is the fast grower, skipping past Instagram and LinkedIn and closing in on Twitter with lightening speed. Those in the know have been talking Google+ for a couple of years, simply on the basis that with Google ‘owning so many eyeballs’, it was just a matter of time until their social platform became huge – and that’s what we’re beginning to see. Working through the concept of social circles, Google+ is a channel brand owners and managers need to get their head around.

The corporate/B2B brand channel, LinkedIn has been steady in tis growth, and laser focused on its market. In the world of professional services LinkedIn is King. Many recruiters are quietly concerned about the potential for this platform to become the recruitment channel of choice for professionals, but it has further potential beyond as a genuine B2B marketing platform.

Pinterest has been the first new kid on the block to be tagged as an under-achiever. Whilst for some categories such as homeware design and weddings Pinterest has proven a rich channel to connect with consumers, on the whole the strength of this platform has been in areas that offer little value to brands. Although a sharing platform model, the type of content & updates shared have failed to become entrenched in the lives of Pinterest users in the way facebook, Twitter and Instagram have.

We remain as convinced as ever that all consumer brands and many B2B brands need to have a well considered game plan for the social space. Although the social landscape is constantly changing, the basic principles hold true:
• Understand your customer
• Understand why you’re playing in the space
• Be active and engaged
• See the channels as ways to build real relationships
• Jump-in, develop your strategy and start connecting

Dave Ansett
Chief Cre­ator of Brands
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Infographic courtesy of leveragenewagemedia.com


  1. Dave I hope everyone has dried off!

    Like the post, captures the high level bare bones of the key players, we all wait to see whether the conclusion that: “as social consumers leave facebook, Twitter is likely to gain further in popularity” comes to fruition.

    I have recently introduced the Brian Solis Conversation Prism our office to try and get folk to appreciate how core they are to social media.

    Contextualising the Chinese social media landscape in relation to Western tools is also helped by this graphic from CICCorporate.

    • Thanks Tim, all dry now. Thanks for your thoughts and reference. The next few years will definitely be as interesting as the last few in regards to the evolution of social. As you point out – one thing remains constant, people remain at the heart of it, which is both appropriate and refreshing.

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