Market Share Stats Show Facebook is Not The Be-All-End-All of Social Media


The Australian recently published an article by me, giving it the title “Lost in the Plethora of Sameness on Facebook”. I thought that was a little too harsh, so I changed it to something a little more tame, and admittedly, a little less clever. Enjoy!

MARKETERS have been flocking to Facebook like moths to a flame, and with good reason. It’s hard to ignore the fact that within the past year the social media platform had a massively hyped IPO, and a short while later amassed its one billionth user.

For marketers, growing a large fan base, learning to cultivate and curate great content, and navigating Facebook’s quirky and ever-changing metrics, have all proved to be worthy challenges in this brave new social media marketing world.

Brand page timelines introduced this year, and the recent addition of global pages, make it undoubtedly easier to create an attractive page for fans to visit.

Whether fans actually visit and engage with those brand pages is another story: the fact remains that for brands to have a social media presence, a Facebook page in some shape or form seems to be a no-brainer.

But Facebook is an extraordinarily crowded brand platform: there are more than five million brands, and counting.

And the cat is now out of the bag — Facebook best practices are being replicated by all brands. Pages and their content are all starting to bleed into one another.

But what marketers should understand is that Facebook is not the be-all-and-end-all of social media strategy.

Using unique audience figures from Nielsen Online Ratings, We Are Social compiled data for several social media sites to calculate market share. While Facebook is still the social media behemoth, data shows that it is losing market share in Australia as other social networking platforms, such as Pinterest, Tumblr and Google+, are gaining.

Facebook’s share has fallen from 41 per cent in October 2011 to 34 per cent in October last year. By contrast, Pinterest (the fastest growing website in history) has grown its share from 0.4 per cent to 3.6 per cent in the same period.

(We Are Social chose the competitive set to include Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, and MySpace. We think this is a fair representation of the overall social networking market. We acknowledge Facebook purchased Instagram in September 2012, but for purposes of this analysis, we did not include a combined unique audience.)

It is hard to expect Facebook, with its 11.3 million Australian users and more than 50 per cent penetration in Australia, to continue at an accelerated rate of growth, but the fact remains there are a number of relative newcomers that can no longer be ignored. And it is not implausible to expect new options to emerge.

Other platforms are actively looking at ways not just to recruit vast numbers of new users, but to attract the savvy marketers who have realised that a single social platform strategy is too narrow.

So now is the best time for marketers to take a step back and consider how to really stand out in the social media space.

Though incorporating other social media platforms into the brand marketing mix is part of the solution, the answer arguably lies less in what platforms marketers are using, and more in how marketers construct their social media strategy. Putting together an effective social “ecosystem”, based on where the audience wants to connect with your brand is imperative, as you would do in channel planning for a traditional media campaign.

For too long, the focus on Facebook has led to a channel-led strategy rather than a content or ideas-led strategy. In the rush to join Facebook, brands have forgotten social media is all about conversations, and that there are many more avenues to effective conversation than just one.

With the emergence of new social media platforms, marketers now have a wider range of choices with which to have these conversations, and each platform has a unique set of strengths. The key to using them properly is for marketers first to identify why and how they want to engage in conversation.

At that point, they will begin to notice that there is a wide range of platforms, including but certainly not limited to Facebook, that can help them in that endeavour.