GWI 6 Preview: Social Media is Enabling Continued Local Market Differentiation

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Sebastian Hedencrona / December 21, 2011

A key feature of our recent trend reports has been the shift away content creation and written word platforms to “real-time” platforms that focus on sharing and light interaction.

Firstly, if we look at blogging, we can see net declines in 11 of the 16 markets that originally made up the GlobalWebIndex. The largest declines are in South Korea and Japan where social blogging had long been the primary form of online networking. Most other markets are stagnant, showing minor drops. There are some exceptions, in particular Brazil and China, where blogging is still a new phenomenon to the tens of millions of new internet users.

The shift is even starker when compared to the massive growth in micro-blogging and social networking. This is most pronounced in China, where the monumental growth of micro-blogging (31 % point increase!), speared headed by Sina Weibo, was followed by a 27% point increase in Social Networking, thanks to QZone and RenRen among others. The massive growth in social networking is seen across all the other markets, although longer term growth in US and Canada is lower as we’ve recently started to see saturation and even decline in active usage.

This is a pattern mirrored in micro-blogging, where Brazil, Russia and Spain lead growth. While these growth levels are lower than social networking, we should also bear in mind that micro-blogging has a much smaller user base and growth comparisons can be misleading of true size. Interestingly, the only market to show a small decline is the US; this demonstrates clearly how the growth of Twitter is being driven by global markets outside their home.

These inter-market differences underline another big macro trend we’ve identified, in terms of how free to access social media is enabling consumers in growth markets to transform the internet. Consumers in growth markets are doing this with increasing appetite, which is driving increased differentiation and an ever increasing localisation of the internet.