Archive for January, 2011

Study: Facebook changing the way people communicate

January 14th, 2011

Facebook in a computer lab. - Photo by Sarah Houghton-Jan

As media, marketers and PR professionals work to understand more about how content consumption habits are changing in digital media, Facebook has continued to emerge as a dominant player.

The social network says it boasts a membership of more than 500 million active members, 50 percent of whom log-in each day. The average user creates 90 pieces of content each month, and the average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events.

As Facebook grows, its footprint as a platform for content discovery grows with it and according to a study (PDF) published by Abacus Data, widespread Facebook usage in Canada is changing how citizens consume content and learn about news around them.

The Ottawa-based market research firm says nearly 75 percent of Canadians now maintain a Facebook account, and while more than 90 percent of millennials (those aged 18-29) have a Facebook account, well over half of adults 60 and up do as well.

According to the study, about 60 percent of people older than 60 identify themselves as Facebook users; nearly 70 percent of people between the ages of 45 and 59 say their on Facebook; almost 80 percent of those aged 33 to 44 are on the social network; and 91 percent of millennials have a Facebook account.

“It’s very common to hear of a generational gap in social media use, but these results show that that gap is more of a gradient – the real gap is in how the different generations use social media,” Alex Monk, a strategist at Abacus Data and author of the report, said in a news release. “Membership is one thing, but the critical data is how people use their Facebook accounts.”

The study says the younger the person, the more likely they are to use Facebook often. To investigate how different generations use Facebook, researchers conducted an online survey with 1,362 Canadians in December 2010 and asked them how they were most likely to hear about a newsworthy or important event within their circle of friends. Results showed Facebook is a primary source of news discovery.

“Nearly half of millennials first hear about noteworthy events within their social circles via Facebook, while only 13 percent hear by phone and 8 percent by email,” said Monk. “That’s what makes the millennial generation so different from the others.”

In contrast, more than 50 percent of people ages 45 to 59 and those over 60 were most likely to hear about a noteworthy event within their circle of friends by phone. That said, older generations are not cut off from technology as a means of communication, as nearly 30 percent of respondents older than 60 said they were most likely to hear of noteworthy events via email.

How people hear about a newsworthy event. - Image courtesy Abacus Data

Brand advocates and marketers are flocking to Facebook because of its active user base, especially among younger generations. Businesses are creating content just to be shared via the social network, communication between brands and customers is more transparent and studies show millennials prefer to interact with brands in a digital space.

Citing forecasts from eMarketer, RICG says, “Businesses are expected to spend $1.7 billion on Facebook marketing in 2011, an increase of $500 million over 2010.”

To understand more about who uses Facebook, Abacus researchers also looked into background information such as level of education, geography and age. “One may hypothesize that Facebook is used nearly exclusively by young people and students, as its origins can be traced to university and college campuses,” the study notes. “However, the idea of student-exclusive use quickly evaporates when membership is broken down by level of education.”

The survey showed 70 percent of people with post-graduate or higher education use Facebook; 78 percent of those with a Bachelor’s degree are on the social network; and 76 percent of those with “some” university or college are on Facebook:

In Canada, Facebook use by geography breaks down fairly evenly across the country. Atlantic Canada sees the highest level of Facebook users at 80 percent of the population. Other provinces break down as follows: Quebec (75%), Ontario (72%), Central Canada (69%), Alberta (74%) and British Columbia (75%).

Abacus Data says the key difference between older generations and millennials with Facebook is usage patterns. ”It’s one thing to have a Facebook account, but another to use it,” the study notes.

Researchers say millennials are much more involved in Facebook, with 50 percent checking their account multiple times per day and more than 80 percent checking at least once daily. Among 30- to 44-year-olds, 67 percent check daily, while 58 percent of those aged 45-59 and 50 percent of people older than 60 checking daily.

How often people check Facebook. - Image courtesy Abacus Data

Looking further into usage patterns, researchers asked respondents four statements about sharing information online to see how their usage and behaviour differs. The statements were: “Sharing any kind of personal information online is too much of a risk for me”; “I share selected personal information with my family and friends via Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or a personal website”; “I readily share information. I am not concerned with privacy risks, as only my friends want to see what I share online”; and “I don’t use the internet for personal networking or social reasons.”

The trend with milliennials continued, as they were most likely to share information and most likely to be using social media. Older generations said they were not as likely to use social media and more likely to believe sharing information online is too risky. Researchers say this could be indicative of a fundamental, generational attitude difference.

“Among other things, sharing information online can be a sign of comfort with the Internet as a social medium, or as an acceptance of social networking as a means of keeping in touch with friends on a regular basis,” the study says.

Out of those surveyed, 75 percent of millennials share some info online, as they’re more comfortable with technology and Facebook is widely seen as just another natural means of communication.

The study concludes by saying: “A gap does exist between millennials and other generations, but not in the simple use of the Internet or other modern technologies. The use of Facebook as a natural extension for social communication is where a generational gap becomes evident. The prevalence of email use and Facebook membership among older generations suggests that they are active on the Internet; they communicate and share information via email. Real penetration of Facebook as a means of relaying meaningful information within a social circle, however, still seems to rest with millennials.”

[Cross-posted to Future of Media]

The Independent incorporates Facebook ‘Like’ button to let readers subscribe to journalists, topics

January 12th, 2011

Screen shot of

As news sites become more social and adapt to new content discovery platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, innovation is flourishing. With readers suffering from content overload and media outlets being pressured to drive more pageviews, news organizations are turning to targeting capabilities to develop a solution to both problems.

Enter: The Facebook Like button. We’ve covered this in the past, when ESPN used the Like button to create custom news feeds for people based on their interests around specific teams.

Now, The Independent is following suit and allowing readers to subscribe to specific reporters.

“Starting with a few key areas of the site, we’ve been developing the tools to let people get their news from The Independent through social networks in tighter categories, designed to better reflect the parts of our editorial output you particularly enjoy,” Jack Riley wrote in a blog post. “To that end, you can now ‘like’ all of our commentators on Facebook, and if you do then when they publish a story it’ll appear in your news feed.”

A Like-button subscription option is a great way for media outlets to bring in new readers. And because content is so specific to their interest, those readers are more likely to be happy with the content they consume.

In today’s media-saturated landscape, people don’t always go to a site to check daily news. Furthermore, just because a reader was interested in one article from a sports or business section doesn’t mean they’re going to read everything from that section.

Today, when readers visit a news site, they may follow a specific journalist, or perhaps a particular topic. But getting someone spend hours on a site to find information they care about just isn’t going to happen across the board.

Categories once worked as ways to organize content by interest, but they can be too broad in today’s age where there is a plentiful supply of content.

The Independent‘s use of the Facebook Like button is innovative because it’s targeted and users opt-in. Riley gives examples using key writers such as Robert Fisk and Johann Hari, saying readers can “Like” them on The Independent‘s website and when they publish readers are notified via Facebook. The news organization has built similar functionality around football clubs so readers can get targeted news about their favourite teams.

Welcome to the era of personalized news where publishers build-in features outside of their own websites.

[Cross-posted to Future of Media]

Twitter: 40% of all tweets created on mobile

January 10th, 2011

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo. - Photo by Joi Ito

If you ever needed a bigger sign of where content consumption is heading, look no further than Twitter. The micro-messaging service that saw more than 25 billion Tweets in the last year says its users are increasingly moving to mobile platforms.

In an interview at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Twitter CEO Dick Costolo revealed nearly half of all Twitter posts are made from a mobile device.

“Mobile is a more and more and more common use of Twitter–40 percent of all tweets created on mobile devices,” Costolo told Kara Swisher of All Things D. “That might seem low, but it was 25 percent a year ago.”

Costolo also said 50 percent of active users are also active on mobile, indicating more and more people are consuming media on platforms other than a computer.

Costolo credits the increasing mobile usage to the launch of apps launches for iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry.

According to a 2010 blog post from Twitter’s co-founder former CEO Evan Williams, Twitter’s mobile website, SMS, Twitter for iPhone and Twitter for BlackBerry are the most-used Twitter apps after the company’s website.

Twitter recently announced a new round of funding with investor Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as well as existing investors. Swisher revealed the round brought in $200 million with a valuation of $3.7 billion.

In his interview at CES, Costolo said Twitter now has more than 350 employees, 100 of whom were hired in Q4 of 2010.

Mobile usage is on the rise across the board, and companies like Google are betting their future on it. According to Search Engine Land, Google’s AdMob unit is reporting more than two billion ad requests on a daily basis (more than quadrupling over the last 12 months).

Recent data released by comScore also indicates big mobile growth; 234 million Americans aged 13 and older used mobile devices for the three month average period ending in Nov. 2010 and 61.5 million Americans were said to own a smartphone (up 10 percent from the preceding three-month period).

The following is a breakdown of the most popular mobile operating systems:

Market share for mobile operating system

For more on the future of mobile, check out how media companies are harnessing the mobile space or the 11 key elements for the future of mobile.

[Cross-posted to Future of Media]

An interview with the Ted Williams, the homeless man with the amazing voice

January 5th, 2011

Yesterday, I stumbled upon a video of a homeless man asking for money at a highway overpass. Nothing overly exciting, until he opened his mouth and an incredible broadcasting voice boomed out.

There were 303 views on the video at that time, and I was amazed that more people had not seen it. I checked back today, and was happy to see the video of the man with a dream had gone viral and had 5.3 million views in one day.

The man is Ted Williams of Columbus, Ohio and after pulling himself out of a life of drugs and alcohol he was looking to get his life back in order with a hope to work in radio or broadcasting. With the success of this YouTube Video, Williams’ face went everywhere and word now is that he’s been offered a job and a home. Awesome.

For those of you who haven’t seen it, I’ve included the video below and followed-up with a longer interview he gave to CBS that is touching. I’m so glad to see life is working out for Mr. Williams.

The YouTube video that made him famous:

A great interview he gave about what it feels like to become a star:

Firefox now No. 1 browser in Europe ahead of Internet Explorer

January 4th, 2011

FirefoxAccording to StatCounter, Firefox is now the most-used Internet browser in Europe. The Mozilla Web browser has overtaken Internet Explorer (IE) to claim the Web thrown in Europe.

According to the report, Firefox took 38.11% of European market share, compared to IE’s 37.52% in December.

“This is the first time that IE has been dethroned from the number one spot in a major territory,” said Aodhan Cullen, CEO of StatCounter in a news release. “This appears to be happening because Google’s Chrome is stealing share from Internet Explorer while Firefox is mainly maintaining its existing share.”

The report also indicates Google Chrome is in third place but gaining market share rapidly; it grew from 5.06% in December 2009 to 14.58% in December 2010.

“We are probably seeing the impact of the agreement between European Commission competition authorities and Microsoft, to offer EU users a choice and menu of browsers from March last,” said Aodhan Cullen in a statement.

Across the pond in North America, IE is still dominant with 48.92% market share followed by Firefox (26.7%), Chrome (12.82%) and Safari (10.16%).

The numbers are based on aggregate data collected by StatCounter on a sample greater than 15 billion pageviews/month (4.9 billion from North America).

[Cross-posted to Future of Media]