OFCOM's Communications market 2009 report has shown some very positive and interesting results in the respect of Social Networks. While the key communications channels remained largely unchanged from 2008 to 2009 with a tiny growth of 0.2% in the communications industry revenue, Social Media has grown in leaps and bounds in this relatively short period.
Facebook has cemented its position as most used site with a 73% growth from May 2008 to may 2009 with the recent crowing of its 250 millionth user; but new services are growing fast with the meteoric rise of Twitter with a staggering 1679% increase since May 2008. This in comparison with the small rise in TV and other communications industries (including home telephone and Radio) and the move towards cheaper mobile phone packages with internet access who offer bundles that include unlimited web browsing you cannot underestimate the growing power online.
With the increase of 7% (from 58% to 65%) of households with fixed internet broadband access bringing the UK broadband figures to two thirds of all households with access to broadband, they are now using online services such as catch up TV, and online video sites such as YouTube, and the BBC iplayer which served up 275million online video streams in 2008, with many more hundreds of millions of streams from other variants such as Channel 4 on demand and Virgin media. These figures show where people are spending their time and money, and its online.
With the sudden shift from traditional media and the higher concentration of companies on having a stake and presence on the internet it is showing the great need to be a part of this, because it is more than likely that if companies are not harnessing the value of this relatively inexpensive and easy way of reaching millions and millons of people (who can avoid them in other mediums with the influx of video recording devices that can filter out advertising messages) they will get left behind.
Being familiar with new technologies and programs are just as important with technologies such as Spotify who offer online music streaming free of charge which now can attribute to 2 hours a monthly of the average users music browsing time. This may not seem like a huge figure but when the average time spent on some sites across the internet is no more than 5 minutes, 2 hours is a lifetime.
You may be surprised to know that OFCOM found that growth was not just in younger demographics, but the largest growth, in the fastest moving and highest involvement sectors of the internet, Social Networks, are the 35-54's age groups with a 35% of this age bracket using them. This could be the reason for the slight shift of younger generations who used Social Networks previously to go else ware but with the growth in all sectors the market cannot be ignored. Social Media is in the news everyday with the latest news, gossip, conversations and information being spread around these communication gateways with unprecedented speed, free from editing and censorship. The prime example of this is the use of twitter as a communication platform for the protestors of the Iran election, a subject that is still running rife all over these social networks.
These findings do a lot to explain the future of communication and where it is happening. No longer are people gossiping over the garden fence or by the office water cooler, it's all happening on the social Media platforms. Businesses need to take heed of this and see that the future opportunities for success are behind the screen on their desk, not on the TV in their living room or the radio in their car.