The Social Networking


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Global Insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry

Nearly one in four people worldwide will use social networks in 2013, according to an eMarketer report, "Worldwide Social Network Users: 2013 Forecast and Comparative Estimates". The number of social network users around the world will rise from 1.47 billion in 2012 to 1.73 billion this year, an 18% increase. By 2017, the global social network audience will total 2.55 billion. To know more, please read the report.

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The Social Networking

  1. 1. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 0
  2. 2. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 1 Social Networking ............................................................................. 2 References...................................................................................... 63 The Social Networking
  3. 3. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 2 Social Networking Nearly one in four people worldwide will use social networks in 2013, according to an eMarketer report, "Worldwide Social Network Users: 2013 Forecast and Comparative Estimates". The number of social network users around the world will rise from 1.47 billion in 2012 to 1.73 billion this year, an 18% increase. By 2017, the global social network audience will total 2.55 billion. The rapidly expanding social network audiences in the emerging markets of Asia-Pacific and the Middle East and Africa will be huge drivers of social user growth. Though Asia-Pacific will have the largest social network population worldwide through 2017 and the Middle East and Africa will have the second- largest audience starting next year, their population penetration rates are among the lowest. Out of the countries included in the forecast, eMarketer expects the fastest increases to come from the social network user populations of India, Indonesia, Mexico, China and Brazil. eMarketer has increased our 2013 forecast for total social network users worldwide by 100 million since our August 2012 forecast. This upward adjustment is based on new data that indicates higher-than- expected totals for internet users in India, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Russia and the Middle East and Africa; new data showing higher estimates for UK social network users than previously forecast; and a new breakout of social network users in the Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Sweden. Asia-Pacific has the largest social network user base, with an audience of 777 million people and a share of 44.8% of social network users worldwide expected by the end of this year. This is more than triple the size of Latin America's social network audience, which is the second-largest worldwide. eMarketer expects the regional portions to shift in ranking throughout the forecast period. Next year, the Middle East and Africa will surpass Latin America in share to become the region with the second-largest social network audience, while Central and Eastern Europe's share will exceed that of North America for the first time. The ranking of social network users by region will largely reflect the regional shares of the global population by 2014.
  4. 4. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 3 This was an inevitable development, as social network usage has moved from taking place primarily in advanced markets to being a common activity for people around the world. The Middle East and Africa will have the fastest gains in new users this year, followed by Asia-Pacific. Internet usage is expanding in both regions and is driving rising social network usage. Through 2015, the more advanced social network markets of North America, Western Europe and Central and Eastern Europe will have the highest penetration rates worldwide. Beginning in 2016, Latin America will pass Western Europe in social network user penetration. Throughout the forecast period, Asia-Pacific's and the Middle East and Africa's penetration rates will be lower than the global figure. This year, 67.7% of internet users around the world will use a social network at least once per month. This figure will rise to more than three out of four internet users by 2016. The respective social network user penetration rates as a percentage of internet users for North America, Western Europe and Asia-Pacific (specifically, Japan, South Korea and Australia) are lower than the worldwide figure. The advanced countries in these regions tend to have more diverse internet user populations, as users often access the web for a variety of reasons such as shopping or searching. However, in countries with less-developed online markets in the Middle East and Africa, Asia-Pacific, Central and Eastern Europe, and Latin America, internet users skew younger and more tech-savvy, and they are more likely to use social networks. Many people in these emerging markets primarily go online via both desktop and mobile devices to gain access to social platforms. (eMarketer, 2013) The social audience is growing across networks and countries, according to findings form GlobalWebIndex's ‘Stream Social: Quarterly Social Platforms Update'. The study found that Facebook remained the No. 1 social network worldwide, with just over half of internet users logging on to the site at least once a month in Q1 2013. eMarketer puts worldwide Facebook penetration slightly higher, expected to reach 60% of internet users in 2013. Behind Facebook, there was a crowded field of second- place contenders, with Google+ out front at 26% of internet
  5. 5. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 4 users. In the US, Google+ gets limited attention, though its user base is growing. Worldwide, however, Google+ has been much more successful. Given that YouTube was right behind, in use by one-quarter of active internet users, there's no question that Google, which owns YouTube, is giving Facebook a run for its money in the global social network space. Top 15 social media sites worldwide, ranked by proportion of active users, Q1 2013 (% of internet users): figure shown on previous page. Twitter came in fourth worldwide at 22% of internet users, but GlobalWebIndex also found that the microblogging service claims the title of fastest-growing social network. Between Q2 2012 and Q1 2013, active users of Twitter rose 42% globally, according to the study. After these major networks, local Chinese social networks garnered among the greatest percentage of users worldwide, a reflection of both the vastness of the social audience in China and the limited availability of foreign properties, like Facebook, in the country. LinkedIn and Pinterest each came in at less than 10% of global internet users. Growth in social network usage came especially from the mobile phone and tablet, which were increasingly used for a variety of social activities. Watching videos on Facebook saw among the biggest jumps in usage, with viewing increasing by 47% on both PC and mobile, and nearly doubling on the tablet. Messaging friends on a one-on-one basis via Facebook also grew substantially on mobile phones and tablets. In terms of which regions saw the biggest user gains, Asia-Pacific countries were the biggest growth drivers. On Facebook, Japan saw the fastest growth, at 42% change vs. Q2 2012. In South Korea, Google+ use exploded, increasing 209%. And on Twitter, participation in Indonesia rose 44%. Saudi Arabia was not far behind, with the number of account holders increasing by 42%. Top 15 countries on Twitter, ranked by growth in account owners, Q1 2013 (% change vs. Q2 2012): (eMarketer, 2013) Just 9% of web users in France were active Twitter users in Q4 2012, according to data from GlobalWebIndex. Most other European nations studied (Germany and Poland excepted) registered substantially higher penetration rates. Active Twitter user penetration in selected countries worldwide, Q4 2012 (as a % of internet users):  Saudi Arabia: 51%  Turkey: 39%  United Arab Emirates: 34%  Argentina: 31%  Spain: 30%  South Africa: 25%  UK: 21%
  6. 6. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 5  Russia: 21%  Italy: 18%  Netherlands: 15%  Sweden: 10%  France: 9%  Poland: 7%  Germany: 6% (eMarketer, 2013) Nearly one in four people worldwide will be social network users in 2013, according to estimates. By 2014, the worldwide social network audience will approach 2 billion. Growth will be largely driven by the rapidly expanding social network audiences in the emerging markets. Social network users in the traditionally more advanced digital countries of North America, Canada, the UK and Japan are approaching a plateau. (eMarketer, 2013) India, Brazil and Russia, along with the Middle East and Africa, are driving the biggest gains in Facebook's worldwide user base. Facebook will pass 1 billion active users worldwide in 2013 as the company sees particularly strong growth in its Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa, and Latin American user bases, with each region set to rise by about 30% or more this year, according to new estimates from eMarketer,. By 2014, Facebook will reach 1.26 billion global users. In the US, UK and Western Europe, growth will be much slower than in emerging markets. About half of the population in both the US and the UK will actively use Facebook this year. In Western Europe as a whole, penetration is somewhat lower, at 37% of the population in 2013. That will rise to 43% by 2017, as consumers in France, Italy and Germany remain marginally less enthusiastic about the social network. Facebook users will grow from 42.6% of internet users worldwide in 2013 to 54.7% in 2017. While 46.6% of people in North America and more than 30% of people in Latin America and Western Europe will use Facebook at least once a month this year, the Middle East and Africa and Asia- Pacific will have much lower penetration rates, which bring down the worldwide percentage of the population using Facebook to 15.4%. eMarketer estimates that 63% of social network users worldwide will access Facebook at least once per month in 2013. In recent years, it has been common for users in countries such as China, Japan, South Korea and
  7. 7. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 6 Russia to use local social networking sites as opposed to Facebook, which gives the site room for growth. By 2017, Facebook users will account for 69.5% of social network users worldwide. Asia-Pacific has had among the fastest growth rates for Facebook use in the past two years, and through the end of the forecast period will be the highest growth area for the social network. Robust double-digit rates across the region are led by high growth in India, Japan and Indonesia. Growth will also be strong in the Middle East and Africa, though from a significantly smaller base of 127.4 million Facebook users in 2012, vs. 227 million in Asia- Pacific that year. Asia-Pacific leads the rest of the world not only in Facebook user growth, but in sheer number of Facebook users. By 2017, eMarketer estimates, 616 million internet users in Asia-Pacific will use Facebook at least monthly, with nearly half that number coming from India alone. Latin America is the second-largest region in terms of number of Facebook users, and fast growth in the Middle East and Africa will push that region's Facebook population ahead of North America's this year. Penetration rates, though, are still highest in the developed markets of North America and Western Europe. In Canada, nearly half of the population will use Facebook monthly this year; in the Netherlands penetration will be closer to two-thirds. While such high penetration does lead to slower growth, eMarketer does not believe Facebook has reached saturation even in the most-penetrated markets. Facebook users as a share of the total population will go up more than 6 percentage points in the Netherlands between 2013 and 2017, for example. Usage will climb more slowly in the US, but will rise from 46.4% of the population this year to 49.6% by 2017. (eMarketer, 2013) TripAdvisor is the first travel site to reach 100 million reviews and opinions, a more than 50% increase year-on- year. The site now covers more than two million tourism businesses in more than 116,000 destinations around the world. Nearly nine out of ten users (87%) agree that TripAdvisor hotel reviews ‘help me feel more confident in my decisions', according to a study by PhoCusWright, commissioned by TripAdvisor. Despite travellers' increasing expectations and demands, the study also revealed that eight out of ten users (80%) agree that TripAdvisor hotel reviews ‘help me have a better trip'. The benefit of the wisdom of the crowds is increasingly supplemented by the wisdom of friends, as Facebook- connected users currently submit 35% of new reviews on TripAdvisor. With the integration of Facebook on TripAdvisor, this means that travellers are able to see and share valuable perspectives with their own friends and their friends' friends. The average review rating on TripAdvisor in 2012 was 4.1 out of five. The coverage and associated usefulness of the site is set to exponentially grow as its user and membership base grow. TripAdvisor currently has more than 200 million unique users a month, more than 47 million marketable members (more than 100 percent growth year on year) and collects more than 60 user contributions a minute. TripAdvisor Fact Box:  For a hotel in the top 500 searched destinations on TripAdvisor the average number of reviews is 139and the average number of candid photos is 53.  TripAdvisor features reviews on hotels in every country except Vatican City, which has no hotels listed on the site  TripAdvisor has restaurant reviews in 99 percent of all countries in the world (exceptions: Marshall Islands and Somalia)  The site features reviews on attractions in 98 percent of all countries in the world (exceptions: South Sudan, Nauru, Equatorial Guinea)  16 attractions feature more than 5,000 reviews, with the most reviewed being Central Park in New York with 11,993 reviews
  8. 8. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 7  26 hotels feature more than 5,000 reviews, with the most reviewed being the Luxor in Las Vegas with 9,904 reviews  For a hotel in the top 50 searched destinations in the UK on TripAdvisor, the average number of reviews is 240 and the average number of candid photos is 53. (Hotelmarketing, 2013) For leisure travelers in Asia-Pacific, online peer influence is at the forefront of planning, according to Text100's ‘Digital Index: Travel & Tourism' study, conducted by Redshift Research in October 2012. The study found that 44% of Asia-Pacific leisure travellers used social media platforms for advice and inspiration regarding travel destinations; more than double the percentage who did the same in the US and EMEA. More than one-third of these travellers also looked to social media to get ideas for attractions, vacation activities and hotels. Leisure travellers worldwide who have used social media platforms for travel inspiration/ideas, by category, October 2012 (% of respondents): The use of social media by Asia-Pacific travellers is significantly different than that of leisure travellers from the US and the EMEA regions. Less than one in five US consumers sought social inspiration for any of these travel activities, and in Europe and South Africa (the only non-European country from the region included in the survey), only about one in seven travellers used social media to get ideas for trips. When they were ready to actually choose their travel destination, the Text100 survey found that 57% of leisure travelers in Asia-Pacific looked to internet reviews, compared to 38% of US travelers, and 33% of EMEA travelers. Social media used to choose a travel destination according to leisure travellers worldwide, by region, October 2012 (% of respondents): China's leisure travellers were far more likely than the average Asia-Pacific consumer to seek out internet reviews on their path to choosing a travel destination; 71% of travelers in China were influenced by online peer reviews. (eMarketer, 2013) A sizeable study of leisure trippers in 13 countries around the globe has shed further light on how important social media in two important areas of the travel funnel. The influence of social media is strong at the points where inspiration for a trip is being sought and at the point where consumers are busily sharing their experiences, but not at the point where money changes - ie. purchasing a flight, hotel, car hire, activity, etc. The study spoke to 4,600 travellers Australia, China, Denmark, France, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, UK and US who had taken at least one leisure trip in the past 12 months or planned to over the course of the next year.
  9. 9. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 8 Headline findings on the social media side of it all:  Those under the age of 34, 87% use Facebook for travel inspiration.  Over half also use Twitter, Pinterest and other social media platforms for inspiration.  Around two-thirds (68%) use their mobile devices to stay in touch with friends and family while on vacation - higher than those taking photos (43%) or checking news sources (20%).  Over half (52%) post photos and videos during their travels, while 25 percent write reviews. The company behind the report, Text100, has broken down the report in to a number of key points:  Recommendations from family/friends came in front as the top influence on the choice of a vacation destination (63%) ahead of web searches (55%).  Websites with reviews are the most popular, followed by professional travel guides and travel columns.  Majority of travellers download travel apps before leaving for a trip, with maps being the most popular.  Positive experiences are most likely to be posted on review sites. The findings show that armed with recommendations from family and friends, plus some tips from various social media channels, consumers are relying on apparent traditional sources to feed them to the booking: online travel agencies, suppliers (hotel, airline), tour operators, etc.
  10. 10. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 9
  11. 11. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 10 (tnooz, 2012) TripAdvisor announced the results of an independent study that underscores how essential online traveller reviews have become for hotel bookings. The commissioned report, conducted by PhoCusWright on behalf of TripAdvisor, reveals more than half (53%) of respondents state that they will not book a hotel that does not have any reviews on the site, and 87% of users agree that TripAdvisor hotel reviews "help me feel more confident in my decisions." Of those polled, 98% of respondents have found TripAdvisor hotel reviews to be accurate of the actual experience, and 95% of users state that they would recommend TripAdvisor hotel reviews to others. The survey also reveals some interesting findings about why travellers write reviews, how they use them when planning a trip and the impact management responses have on their perceptions of properties. Overall travellers stay positive and mostly ignore extreme comments; and responsive hotels attract more business The survey debunks a common misconception that travellers primarily write reviews to complain about bad guest experiences. In fact, sharing positive experiences is their main motivation:
  12. 12. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 11  74% state that they write reviews because they want to share a good experience with other travellers.  78% state that they write reviews because they feel good about sharing useful information with other travellers.  71% of users’ state that they like to see basic information (i.e., number of reviews written) about contributors as they browse through reviews.  67% of users state that, when available, they look at traveler-submitted photos to help them make hotel choices.  59% of users state that when reading reviews, they ignore extreme comments.  Only 5% of users state that they focus more on negative reviews to check for hotels and avoid potential pitfalls. The survey finds that travellers expect hotel management to be actively responding to their reviews, and those who do stand to generate more business:  57% of users agree that seeing hotel management responses to reviews generally "makes me more likely to book it (versus a comparable hotel that didn't respond to travelers)"  84% of users agree that an appropriate management response to a bad review "improves my impression of the hotel"  78% of users agree that seeing a hotel management response to reviews "makes me believe that it cares more about its guests"  64% of users agree that an aggressive/defensive management response to a bad review "makes me less likely to book that hotel". (TravelDailyNews, 2012) An Hotel Resort Insider article provides the top trends that have been incorporated in the newest social travel sites:  Recommendation engines for travel: Majority of the newly launched sites, which emerged in past several years are included in this category. These sites try to recommend you suitable places to go based on the suggestions from your network of Facebook friends. Some of the recognized sites in this category are Gogobot and the lately launched Tripbird.  Travel friend finders: It seems that Wayn have found the appropriate path for bringing users together for friendship and dating. But they are a little different than the conventional dating sites and they are mainly focused on bringing all users together around places. Tripl has made a new turn to this formula, which explore the users profile deeply and then extends ideas of places for your next trip. These kinds of sites help in creating a culture of globetrotters, who are free to travel from country to country, but still can connect with fellow lonely traveler in each country they visit.  Local guides and experiences: A host of sites have been launched, which are focused on connecting travelers to different travel guides in local cities. Toursbylocals is a well informed and simple site and Vayable promises you amazing experiences by connecting with locals.  Special interests networks: A number of sites are popping up every day in an effort to engage users with specific activities, whether its cruising, expats or group adventures. These sites are working effectively by attracting loyal and engaged audiences and powering them with social tools.  Communities based around products: A host of sites have emerged, which are bringing suppliers and travelers on the same platform and are engaging the travelers with a product. Here, users come together to share rooms, while they are touring. Users with a room to spare also visit commercial sites, like Airbnb, as they can earn excess cash by renting the room out. Airbnb has truly done a great thing by merging travelers and suppliers in a social environment. (Hotel&ResortInsider, 2012) Traditionally, nations in the Middle East and Africa tend to share less online than other cultures, but in recent years, social networks have been making a significant social and cultural impact. Greater social network usage
  13. 13. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 12 is especially being seen in those who are younger and well-educated, and mobile phones (already popular among users for accessing social networks) will continue to drive usage. However, despite recent expansion, internet access remains limited in the Middle East and Africa, especially outside of urban centers. But those who do go online are likely to visit social networks. Earlier this year, eMarketer forecast that the Middle East and Africa region was estimated to have the third-highest social network penetration rate among internet users at 71.2%. Though this number has been revised slightly downward to 70.2% for 2012, because of larger reductions in penetration for Latin America and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa now holds the top spot in social network user penetration among internet users worldwide. eMarketer projects that in 2012, there will be 146.4 million social network users in the region, revised downward from the previous estimate by 2.1 million based on research released during 2012. Research has also led eMarketer to slightly reduce the region's number of Facebook users for 2012 from 119.7 million to 117.8 million. Facebook remains a strong presence in the region's social network market, in part due to mobile carriers that deliver a low-bandwidth version of Facebook to 2G phones. (eMarketer, 2012) Social networks and user reviews can have a profound impact on the booking decisions of website visitors looking at anything from leisure or business trips to dinner reservations, according to Monete. Monetate has produced some tips on 4 key social networks use brands can adopt to influence travel and hospitality bookings: 1. Drive website traffic from social networks: o 1 Facebook fan = 20 additional website visits o Over 75% of travellers turn to social networks to find some type of shopping-related deal o 30% of travellers consider information from their social networks to be useful during travel planning. 2. Use ratings and reviews to achieve higher booking rates: o 70% of Americans say they read reviews before taking the next step toward conversion o 61% refer to traveller-submitted user reviews o 52% read reviews from travel professionals o 32% post reviews of places they've visited after travelling for business. o About 1 billion restaurant visits are influenced by online marketing. 3. Become part of the conversation: leading business objectives for using social networks: o Better customer engagement: 78% o Revenue generation: 51%
  14. 14. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 13 o Better customer experience: 47% 4. Ways to increase conversions from social networks: o Avoid the ‘bait and switch' o Optimize the user experience o Maintain message consistency o Get involved in the conversation.
  15. 15. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 14 (tnooz, 2012) The website-version of the location check-in service, Foursquare, has allowed users to make what it calls a "one- check reservation" for restaurants since May 2012 via a deal with food booking platform OpenTable. Since September 2012, instant reservations from mobile are now available. The service is simple: if a user finds a (OpenTable-covered) restaurant in their immediate vicinity when they fire up the app and they fancy making a booking they just tap a button within the app and the table is reserved. Such a move illustrates where Foursquare might finally be able to find its real worth for travellers, especially in the hotel, tour and activity sectors. In fact, partnerships down the line between Foursquare and any of those sites (or their online travel agency rivals who have seen the opportunity such as seem pretty obvious now. It is the one-click (ish) element to this which works so well for the user. Same goes for the tour and activity space, arguably even more so. Instant reservations or tickets for a museum, gallery, theme park (perhaps avoiding the annoying queue) through a booking platform for tours and activities is a logical next step. (tnooz, 2012) Awareness of social network sites is very high, Facebook is close to 100%, Twitter reaches 80% awareness and Google+ is know by 70%, according to findings from InSites Consulting Social Media Around the World 2012 report. On its report, InSites Consulting offers five insights on the status of social media and more than 2,000 facts and figures about social media in 19 countries. 1. The social media landscape is rather stable 2. Mobile is the perfect accelerator for social media usage 3. Consumers connect and interact with a limited set of brands 4. Consumers reach out to brands: we want to help you! 5. Opportunity for brands to optimize conversation potential of consumers (Insites Consulting, 2012)
  16. 16. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 15 The number of social network users around the world will rise in 2012 to 1.4 billion from 1.18 billion in 2011, according to eMarketer. This near-20% increase is a slight drop from the rise in 2011, and growth rates will continue to moderate as the market matures. Social network users worldwide, 2010-2014: The fastest growth will come from the emerging markets of the world, especially the Middle East and Africa (where the base of social network users remains small) and Asia-Pacific. Latin America will also grow its user base by 18.5%, slightly below the worldwide average. Social network user growth worldwide by region in 2012: Growth in Facebook users will follow a similar pattern. eMarketer forecasts that Facebook will have nearly 826 million users around the world in 2012, up from 650.7 million in 2011. The 2012 figure will represent 58.8% of social network users, 36.4% of internet users and just under 12% of the total worldwide population. Penetration among internet users will remain highest in North America, followed closely by the Middle East and Africa and Latin America, which have smaller bases of internet users than countries like the US and Canada, where web access is more widespread. Facebook user growth will come fastest from Asia- Pacific, where adoption rates in India, Indonesia and Japan far exceed the worldwide average growth of 26.9% this year. The Middle East and Africa and Latin America will also post higher-than-average growth rates. (eMarketer, 2012) 81% of travellers find user reviews important, while 49% of travellers won't book a property without reviews, according to Olery Infographics about The Naked Truth about Hotel Reviews. 46% of travellers post reviews. Other findings from this inforgraphics inlcude:  The more stars a hotel carries, the more likely it is rated higher in reviews.  53% of reviews are written by women, but men tend to complain more.  22% of smartphone owners read hotel reviews on their mobile. The top 10 reviews sites by number of reviews: 1. TripAdvisor 2.
  17. 17. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 16 3. Expedia 4. Best China Hotel 5. HRS 6. 7. irtualTourist 8. 9. Zoover 10. TVtrip (TRAVELTHINK e-News No. 8, 2012) Four Pillars Hotels in the UK has compiled infographic on the impact of social media on the travel industry. It contains some interesting snippets, including some which illustrate the contextual influence of how social media is influencing the search and buying processes, as well as sharing habits:  In most major cities the search volume on Google for ‘Hotels in [city name]' has lost over 70% in just the last 6 years, instead they use the likes of Kayak, TripAdvisor, and Expedia.  38% of US travellers and 64% of non-US travellers use social networks while travelling. Of those, 32% of US and 22% of non-travellers frequently blog about their experiences. MOBILE:  85% of leisure travellers’ user their smartphone while abroad. 30% have used mobile apps to find hotels deals, while 29% have used mobile apps to find flight deals. TRUST:  92% of consumers say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.  47% of consumers around the world say they trust paid television, magazine and newspaper ads.  70% of global consumers say online consumer reviews are the second most trusted form of advertising. INFLUENCE:  52% of Facebook users said their friends' photos inspired their holiday choice and travel plans.  Social media has a huge influence on travel bookings. Of those who used social media to research travel plans, only 48% stuck with their original plans: 33% changed their hotel; 7% changed destination; 10% changed resorts; and 5% changed airlines. REVIEWS:  40% post restaurant reviews.  Post-vacation, 46% of travellers post hotel reviews.  76% post vacation photos to a social network.  55% ‘liked' Facebook pages specific to a vacation. (tnooz, 2012) Among the most visited websites around the world, Facebook had roughly 152 million unique US visitors in March 2012, or more than two out of three Americans who were active online visited Facebook. This rate is even less than in other markets, including Brazil, New Zealand and Italy, underscoring Facebook's transcendence of borders around the world - and on the worldwide web. Since its founding in 2004, the social network has passed many milestones as it skyrocketed from a few million US users to millions more around the world. Looking back at Nielsen data from over the last eight years, here are some of the key moments in Facebook's story:
  18. 18. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 17  In January 2009 Facebook passed Myspace to become the top social network/blog site for the first time, a position it's held in the US ever since.  Between 2005 and 2009 Facebook doubled its traffic each year in the US, surpassing 10 million unique for the first time in November 2006 (11.6 million).  Facebook connected friends around the globe quickly: reaching 10 million unique UK visitors by April 2008. In 2009, the French, Spaniards and Germans followed suit, with 10 million visitors apiece in January, May and November, respectively.  As recently as August 2011, Facebook overtook Orkut as the top social networking site in Brazil; it has continued to grow its audience since then. Facebook continues to grow around the world, with consumers in each market finding unique uses for social media sites. While Facebook is the top social network globally, many netizens visit multiple social media sites; in Japan blog sites are more popular in the social media category (Facebook is ranked 5th), and in Brazil sites like Tumblr and Google+ are growing quickly as well. Currently Facebook is the top Social Networking & Blogs site in eleven of the following 12 markets: Global Visitors to Facebook in March 2012 (from Home/Work computers): Read as: 38.1 million Brazilians visited Facebook during March 2012, about 76.7% of those who were active online that month from Home/Work computers in the market. * Online measurement in Switzerland is from Home computers only. ** New Zealand, Taiwan, the U.S., and Australia use Hybrid measurement, which includes sources in addition to home/work computers. (nielsen, 2012) Professor Dimitrios Buhalis, director of eTourism Lab at Bournemouth University and president of IFITT has given 20 steps advices on how to use social media in the tourism industry. In the last two years the proliferation of social media in tourism has brought a range of new tools and platforms for tourism and hospitality organisations around the world. What looked as innovation for the first six months soon become a commoditised and cliché type of interaction. Social media is becoming a boring me-too, similar to Web 1.0 ten years ago when everybody started to imitate everybody else, essentially killing all sorts of innovation and failing to address the opportunities. Research and professional practice from around the world needs to better understand and feed into the strategy of businesses so they can take advantage of the fantastic opportunities available to us all - and travellers - through social media. Below are Professor Buhalis's 20 point plan: 1. Engage, engage, engage with the wider communities and stakeholders: employees, customers, local people, special interest groups 2. Consumers centric approach to absolutely everything - this means that: o TIMING - you cannot simply interact in the office hours of the marketing personnel but around the clock. o TOPICS - speak about what users/consumers want to engage with - not just promoting your products. o VALUE - engage with what consumers perceive as value. 3. Human centricity and connections - identify how people connect with people, whether these are employees, customers, tourists. Build the community feel and engage everybody in positive interaction. Global Market Unique Audience Active Reach Brazil 38,138,000 76.70% Italy 21,270,000 70.50% Spain 15,628,000 67.00% France 28,335,000 66.90% United Kingdom 25,737,000 63.90% Germany 24,508,000 54.60% Japan 14,877,000 24.40% Switzerland* 1,985,000 50.30% New Zealand** 2,672,000 79.80% Taiwan** 11,068,000 77.90% United States** 152,763,000 69.60% Australia** 11,010,000 68.40%
  19. 19. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 18 4. Address criticisms instantly and fix things in real time, restoring the promised level of services as soon as possible and give alternatives to compensate inconvenience. 5. Harness the collective power and knowledge of the community to share solutions for all. 6. Facilitate co-creation at all levels: Consumers with business; consumers with employees and consumers with consumers. 7. Visual multimedia rules: encourage users to take photos, videos, drawings etc and upload to their social networks. 8. Offer genuine value and reward engagement through special offers, value added services, special experiences, engagement behind the scenes. 9. Challenge all operating practices and "normal" processes to reflect consumer dynamic requirements within the context of "now". 10. Explain operating difficulties and issues and engage consumers in finding creative solutions. 11. Geo-tagged user generated content will demonstrate the real experience and maximize impact. 12. Facilitate interaction by offering FREE WIFI to guests. This is a preconditions for people to generate and share content, especially for travellers that do not want to pay data roaming charges. 13. Look after special markets and their social media, for example RenRen and Weibo in China, Odnoklassniki and Vkontakte in Russia. 14. Fully exploit the potential of Tripadvisor including its Forum and listings. 15. Make guests, customers, and locals brand advocates and ambassadors giving them the opportunity to champion and defend the brand online. 16. Stop being paranoid on Return on Investment ROI in Social Media and focus on value generation and co-creation for all involved. 17. Develop context and location-based services that are integrated with social media. Use QR codes to direct people to deep links with special offers and engagement. 18. Create photo and video opportunities and incentivize sharing. 19. Fully integrate social media with web presence and aim to convert to bookings. 20. In-source and resource social media as the mainstream communication channel. Train most of the work force to contribute and engage in the dialogue, from the CEO/general manager to receptionist and front line employees. (tnooz, 2012) Facebook is getting into the app store game, announcing an initiative called App Center which it claims will help developers get their social web and mobile applications discovered by more people. The App Center will spotlight free and paid applications that use Facebook's social graph. It will be a part of the Facebook website, but also the company's iOS and Android apps. Facebook believes that for the over 900 million people that use Facebook, the App Center will become the new, central place to find great apps like Draw Something, Pinterest, Spotify, Battle Pirates, Viddy, and Bubble Witch Saga. Apps will be sorted by category, including games, communications, lifestyle, music, news, photos & videos, sports, travel & local, TV & movies and utilities. Each app gets its own page on the store, which will become the first thing Facebook users see when searching for it - but only if it's deemed good enough. Success through the App Center is tied to the quality of an app. Facebook use a variety of signals, such as user ratings and engagement, to determine if an app is listed in the App Center. Well-designed apps that people enjoy will be prominently displayed. Apps that receive poor user ratings or don't meet the quality guidelines won't be listed. Within Facebook's mobile apps, people will be able to browse apps and then install them from Apple's App Store or Google's Play store if they're native, or go straight to them if they are mobile web apps.
  20. 20. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 19 The App Center will also see Facebook moving beyond its historic focus on free apps that make money from advertising and/or in-app purchases. To support more types of apps on, Facebook will give developers the option to offer paid apps," explains the company. This is a simple-to-implement payment feature that lets people pay a flat fee to use an app on (Guardian, 2012) 100% of travel brands surveyed globally had a facebook brand profile, up from 82% in February 2011, according to findings from a video co-produced by EyeforTravel & Digital Visitor using research data from EyeforTravel's Social Media & Mobile in Travel report that looks at the upcoming trends in Social Media and Mobile and the impact it has had on the travel industry. (View video here) Other findings show that:  75% had a twitter profile, up from 64% in February 2011.  71% of travel brands agree to some extent that social media has improved engagement.  50% of travel brands surveyed agreed that they have generated direct bookings from social media.  20% of respondents globally cited social media as their most successful market format. In Brazil, this figure jumps to 33%.  42% of travel brands allocated more of their marketing budget to social media advertising in the third quarter of 2011 than they had in the previous quarter. 61% of travel brands are expecting to increase their investment in social media over the next three months.  33% of travel brands allocated more of their marketing budget to managing their presence in social media channels.  Travel marketers surveyed found that using social media reduced PR costs by 24%.  Social media is to become more of a key component of search engine results page algorithms.  51% of travel brands cited an increase in traffic from Facebook in the third quarter of 2011, while 39% cited an increase in traffic from twitter. (Eye for travel, 2012) There were an estimated 835.5 million Facebook users worldwide at the end of March 2012, according to Internet World Stats. Europe was the region with most Facebook subscribers (233 million), followed by Asia (195 million). In third place was North America (173 million), next are South America, Central America, Africa, the Middle East, Oceania, and the Caribbean. The most important conclusion is that only eight regions show growth. Asia and South America stand out as the regions with the highest growth for Facebook. FACEBOOK SUBSCRIBER GROWTH BETWEEN 2011 AND 2012 Geographic Regions in order by size FB Users 31-Mar-2011 FB Users 30-Jun-2011 FB Users 31-Sept-2011 FB Users 31-Dec-2011 FB Users 31-Mar-2012 Europe 200,260,360 208,907,040 214,988,320 223,376,640 232,835,740 Asia 131,556,800 152,957,480 169,392,060 183,963,780 195,034,380 North America 173,640,240 167,999,540 172,636,960 174,586,680 173,284,940 South America 69,594,760 82,207,800 92,049,480 103,294,940 112,531,100 Central America 28,090,240 33,081,140 36,333,060 38,317,280 41,332,940 Africa 27,414,240 30,665,460 34,798,940 37,739,380 40,205,580 Middle East 15,779,440 16,125,180 17,326,520 18,241,080 20,247,900 Oceania / Australia 12,333,780 12,881,560 13,177,360 13,353,420 13,597,380 Caribbean, the 5,362,600 5,903,520 6,182,080 6,218,960 6,355,320 World Total 664,032,460 710,728,720 756,884,780 799,092,160 835,525,280 Source: Internet World Stats Facebook is the social web leader in number of users and at year-end 2011 registered the impressive number of 799 million subscribers worldwide, according to Internet World Stats.
  21. 21. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 20 Europe has the largest number of Facebook subscribers in the world, 223 million, and a penetration rate of 27.4 %. Northern America has the largest Facebook Penetration Rate, 50.3 %, indicating that one out of every two persons in America has a Facebook account. Internet World Stats have analyzed the number of Facebook subscribers in 210 countries and territories, in three month periods since March 31, 2011 till March 31, 2012. (Internet World Stats, 2012) There will be 1.43 billion social network users in 2012, a 19.2% increase over 2011, according to eMarketer "Worldwide Social Network Usage: Market Size and Growth Forecast" report. In 2012, 63.2% of internet users will visit a social network at least once a month, rising to 67.6% in 2013 and 70.7% in 2014. At those user rates, one out of every five people in the world will use a social network this year, and one in every four will do so in 2014. Facebook is a leading reason for the growth; it has rapidly expanded in markets such as Brazil, India and Indonesia, gaining new users and poaching from longstanding local favorites like Google's orkut. In 2012, 837.3 million people worldwide will use Facebook, a 27.4% increase from 2011. Three of the five top social networking markets in 2012 are also among Facebook's largest markets-the US, India and Brazil. But the absence of China and Russia from the list means Facebook still hasn't conquered the world. The US is still by far the leader in Facebook users with 141.2 million in 2012, although that base is growing the slowest among key countries. India will have the second largest Facebook population, with 68.1 million users this year, followed by Indonesia (49.1 million) and Brazil (45.4 million). Mexico will be the fifth largest, with 25.6 million users. (eMarketer, 2012) 55% of heavy social media advertisers worldwide were planning on increasing their social media ad budgets in 2012, according to a February 2012 white paper from Microsoft Advertising, "Driving Word of Mouth with Social Advertising". A majority of marketers in Brazil and the US saw room for growing social media ad budgets in their countries, at 81% and 64%, respectively, compared to a minority of marketers in countries such as France, the UK and Canada. Social media marketers in selected countries who plan to increase their social media ad spending, 2011 (% of respondents): Marketers in Brazil have good reason to expect increases in social ad budgets: eMarketer forecasts social network users in Brazil will reach 75.7 million in 2012, for an internet user penetration rate of 87.6%.
  22. 22. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 21 According to the white paper, the No. 1 worldwide goal of social media marketers was increasing word- of-mouth, whether through rebroadcasting ratings and reviews or generating product and brand conversations on blogs or discussion boards. With social networks reaching so many internet users in Brazil, online word-of-mouth's importance is almost a given. (eMarketer, 2012) Warholian (contemporary art and culture photographer Michael Cuffe - aka Warholian - and his team) used a donut illustration photo to explain social media in a humoristic way on its Facebook account:  Twitter - I'm eating a donut  Facebook - I like Donuts  Foursquare - This is where I eat donuts  Instagram - Here's a vintage photo of my donut  YouTube - Here I am eating a donut  LinkedIn - My skills include donut eating  Pinterest - Here's a donut recipe  Last FM - Now Listening to "donuts"  G+ - I'm a google employee who eats donuts (Facebook-Warholian Page, 2012) 25% of all Groupon purchases in December 2011 were bought on mobile devices. Groupon's mobile app user base tripled in 2011 compared to 2010. Groupon said it has more than 9 million users of its app, which was launched in March 2010. For comparison, Foursquare (which is a mobile-focused company that debuted its app a year earlier) has 15 million users. In a press release highlighting year over year growth for mobile usage, Groupon said merchants have gotten on board as well. According to the Chicago-based brand, 12,000 retailers are using its merchant mobile app to record voucher redemptions. At the same time, the lion's share of Groupon's business is still done online. It has well over 115 million email subscribers. (ClickZ, 2012) Social networking is a worldwide phenomenon that eMarketer predicts will encompass nearly 1.5 billion internet users by the end of 2012. As of December 2011, eMarketer estimates, just over 1.2 billion people around the world used social networking sites at least once per month. That represented 23.1% growth over 2010, and double-digit growth will continue throughout eMarketer's forecast period, though the rate of change will decrease as the market matures. Social network users worldwide, 2011-2014: The region with the highest number of social network users is Asia-Pacific, where 615.9 million internet users will log on to social sites by the end of 2012. About half of those users will be in China, where social network users will outnumber their counterparts in the US by nearly two to one.
  23. 23. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 22 China and the US are the top two countries in terms of overall number of users, but the rankings of key social networking countries around the world change when examined based on penetration rates vs. growth rates. In 2012, the US will have the greatest share of social network users as a percentage of the total population (49.9%), followed by Canada (49.3%), South Korea (46.6%), Australia (44.4%) and Russia (41.9%). As a share of internet users in 2012, however, Brazil will come out on top (87.6% of web users in the country will use social networking sites) followed closely by Indonesia at 87.5%. In developing markets like these, fewer people overall are online, but among those who are on the web, social networking is often a key driver of internet usage. Social network users worldwide by country, 2011- 2014: The fastest growth in social networking this year, meanwhile, will come from India (where usage will increase by 51.7%), Indonesia (51.6%) and, lagging distantly, China (19.9%). Much of this growth is due to the ever-climbing popularity of Facebook-though notably not in China, where the site is banned. eMarketer estimates the social networking giant will pass the billion- user mark by the end of 2013. Facebook users worldwide, 2011-2014: (eMarketer, 2012) Hoteliers in the US and Middle Eastern cities take the lead in social-media adoption, according to a study from For the second year in a row, San Francisco topped the ranking while hotels in Dubai surged to the second spot, up nine places compared with last year. Selected major destinations were ranked based on their ‘Tripadvisor Top 10' listed hotels' adoption of and the internet users' response to the main social-media tools. The results of eHotelCheck's 2011 global scan show that over the last year many more hoteliers from around the world turned to social media to attract and retain customers, and started using tools, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tripadvisor - the main global social media tools used in the tourism industry, to interact with internet users - their (prospective) guests. The hotels in Europe may lag behind their US and Middle Eastern counterparts, however, measured by the number of online reviews on Tripadvisor, their guests are active contributors within the virtual community.
  24. 24. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 23 Especially London, Paris, and Rome have active online guests, but their most appreciated hotels make only limited use of social media. Other findings show that Facebook has seen a huge increase over the last year, with an astonishing 84% increase in its adoption by hotels and more than a tripling of the number of Likes by its users. Currently still only 59% of the hotels included in the study have a Facebook account. Compared to Facebook and Tripadvisor, Twitter shows lower and slower adoption by hotels as well as internet users. The share of hotels with a Twitter account increased by 46%. Over the period of one year, the top 10 hotels in the selected 33 destinations as ranked on Tripadvisor increased their online audience by 172.000 Followers, currently averaging 3.500 Followers per account. At the moment, it is the hotels in Las Vegas that are setting the bar in Twitter adoption. (TravelDailyNews, 2012) comScore has examined the current state of social networking among online users around the world in a report on the global state of social networking, entitled "It's a Social World: Top 10 Need-to-Knows About Social Networking and Where It's Headed". Here are three of comScore's key findings:  Social Networking is the most popular online activity worldwide: in October 2011, 1.2 billion users around the world visited social networking sites, accounting for 82% of the world's population. Nearly 1 in every 5 minutes spent online around the world is now spent on social networking sites, making Social Networking the most popular content category in engagement worldwide.  Microblogging has emerged as a disruptive new force in social networking: microblogging, a way of communicating through short-form content, has emerged as a leading social networking platform over the past few years, led by Twitter. In October 2011, Twitter reached 1 in 10 worldwide internet users, reflecting its emergence as a leading global social network. Other microblogging platforms on the rise are Tumblr and Sina Weibo.  Mobile devices are fuelling the social addiction: as mobile devices provide users with the means to connect on-the-go and interact in real-time, they show promise in taking social networking even further. Nearly one third of the US mobile population age 13 and older accessed social networking sites at least once in October 2011. Across five leading markets in Europe, nearly a quarter of the mobile population reported doing so as well. With smartphones driving even more frequent social networking use through apps and the emergence of tablets, we expect mobile social networking to be the wave of the future. (comScore, 2011) 34% of American and Canadian consumers say they would never purchase products via a retailer's Facebook page, compared to 19% who said they would (9%) or already have (10%) done so, according to an Oracle study released in December 2011. Data from "Cross-Channel Commerce 2011: The Consumer View" indicates that 15% of respondents did not know that they could purchase a product via a retailer's Facebook page. The remaining 32% of respondents do not use the social network. 23% of respondents say they have liked a merchant on Facebook, with women (30%) more ready to do so than men (17%). Roughly one-quarter say they look for coupons and special promotions on the social network. 23% of respondents reported using Twitter, although less than half say they interact with a merchant on the site. For consumers that use Twitter, 44% of those aged 25-34 say they interact with friends about products they plan to buy, followed by 30% of users aged 35-44. According to data collected by Compete in April and May 2011, a combined two-thirds of Twitter users say retailer feeds on the social network have influenced their decision to purchase products or buy from certain retailers. Oracle's online study polled 2,169 US and Canada consumers aged 18 years or older.
  25. 25. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 24 (Marketing Charts, 2011) In large emerging markets, including Mexico and Indonesia, social network penetration ranged from 56% to 86% of internet users, according to Pew Research Center's "Global Digital Communication: Texting, Social Networking Popular Worldwide". In some markets, especially those with relatively low overall internet penetration, that put social network usage higher than the US's 60% of internet users. Unlike in developed markets, where growth in social network usage has plateaued, emerging markets are experiencing double-digit increases. Social network penetration was highest in Indonesia and Russia, at 86% for each in May 2011, up from 63% and 76%, respectively, in 2010. Social network users in selected countries, May 2011:  While not included in the Pew study, social networking may be even more common in Brazil. A study by local ad agency F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi found that penetration reached 93% of internet users in August 2011. Aside from zeroing in on a large number of internet users, social media marketing is also more effective in emerging markets than more established ones. The TNS "Digital Life 2011" study found that users in BRIC, Indonesia and Mexico were more likely to view social networks as a good place to learn about and buy brands and products than users in developed markets like Canada, the UK and the US. In developed markets, users are accustomed to third-party ecommerce sites and payment methods and mainly look to social networks for keeping up with friends. In emerging markets, ecommerce is untested and new; knowing the person or brand, even virtually, can engender more trust among users.
  26. 26. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 25 Social media marketing is important in the US and other developed markets, but higher levels of trust in emerging markets suggest that social networks can play a bigger role in the purchase cycle there. (eMarketer, 2012) Social networking accounted for nearly one in every five minutes spent online globally in October 2011, ranking as the most engaging online activity worldwide, according to a study. According to comScore's recently released report, It's a Social World: Top 10 Need-to-Knows About Social Networking and Where It's Headed, social networking sites now reach 82% of the world's internet population age 15 and older that accessed the internet from a home or work computer, representing 1.2 billion users around the globe. In October, Facebook reached more than half (55%) of the world's global audience and accounted for one in every seven minutes spent online around the world and three in every four social networking minutes. In the US, 64% of smartphone users accessed social networking sites at least once in October 2011, with two in five smartphone owners connecting via social networking nearly every day. In the EU5, 45% of smartphone owners accessed social networks on their mobile device during the month, with nearly one in four doing so on a near daily basis. A lot of brands started to invest in social media, sometimes heavily, but recent studies showed that an overwhelming majority of consumers don't want to have their social media space invaded by brands. A recent global study indicated that brands must harness digital more carefully if they are to use it to their advantage and deepen relationships with customers and prospects. It added that businesses are wasting time and money trying to reach people online without realizing many resent big brands invading their social networks. (Eye for travel, 2012) In an interview with EyeforTravel in 2011, Gurmej Bahia, director of Customer Marketing at Expedia, recommended do' and don'ts when it comes to working on a Facebook App: Do's 1. Treat your Facebook App as a unique channel, focus on the user experience and look at what will add value to your users. 2. Leverage the technology and the specific strengths of the platform don't fall into the trap of replicating something that already exists on the website 3. Look beyond your sector for inspiration and take the learning where appropriate (Fast fashion brands have a well-established social presence and are often leading the way). 4. Iterate and test new functionality. Facebook is constantly evolving so you should adopt an agile approach to enable quick testing and development. 5. Dedicate a permanent resource to the project to safeguard the user experience and develop future functionality. 6. Think about promotional marketing activity to drive uptake of the app. Seeding with bloggers, including it in your ATL marketing activity and developing acquisition initiatives are imperative to spread the word and gain users. Don'ts 1. Don't create a vanity App, think about your objectives before jumping into App development. 2. Don't launch your app and leave it for a year before reviewing the functionality. Functionality can change quickly within FB so be prepared to evolve your app over time. (Eye for travel, 2012) Social media, content, mobile and apps, and natural search engine optimization will be the top four areas for travel organizations to increase spending in 2012, according to a global survey by Frommer's® Unlimited, the business-to-business division of Frommer's®. The report found that more than 83% plan to increase overall digital marketing spend in 2012. The survey of 350 travel organizations was undertaken with global digital travel news service Tnooz and respondents included
  27. 27. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 26 airlines, agents, tour operators and consolidators, hoteliers, tourist boards, car rental, rail, travel insurance, publishing and cruise companies. 78% of those surveyed said they planned to increase digital marketing budgets for the year ahead and 19% said budgets would remain the same. Only 3% said they were decreasing marketing spend in 2012. Two thirds of businesses surveyed said they would invest more money in social media next year and more than half said they would also be increasing spend on content (55%), mobile and apps (54%) and natural search engine optimization (52%). Three quarters of those surveyed say they are maintaining and increasing translation budgets for 2012. Half of the travel organisations surveyed currently operate a site in one language, a third operate sites in up to five languages and a fifth have sites in more than 5 languages. For 2012 that will increase - 26% said they plan to have up to 5 language sites and 17% plan to have more than 5 language sites. Giles Longhurst, Frommer's Unlimited Director Europe, Middle East and Africa indicated that their fourth annual survey shows a clear trend of sustained investment in content in many different platforms, and global players looking to create engagement as well as customer acquisition. (Travelmole, 2011) A new study based on a survey of 5,000 consumers in the US, UK, France, and Germany found social media to be one of the least effective engagement techniques for encouraging customer loyalty for larger and small businesses alike, according to a study from Pitney Bowes. The survey found that just 18% of the respondents believed that interaction with a larger company or its brands on social media would encourage them to buy from that business again. The social media approach was deemed even less effective for smaller businesses, where just 15% of those responding said it would encourage their loyalty to a company. (Hotelmarketing, 2011) Over 1 billion people in the world use social networks in the second quarter of 2011, according to the results of Insites Consutling "Social Media around the World 2011" global study about the usage of social media around the globe, with 9,000 repsondents in 35 countries. This represents more than 70% of the internet population worldwide. More than 600 million people use social networks at least daily. Awareness and usage of social networks is high. In Europe, 98% know at least one social network and 73% are member of at least one network. Social networkers are member of 1.9 networks on average. Western Europe lags behind the rest of Europe in terms of social network penetration. Awareness, penetration, average number of networks in Europe:  Europe: Awareness of at least one network (98%) / Member of at least one network (73%) / Average number of networks one is member of: 1.9  Easter Europe: 99% / 79% / 1.9  Southern Europe: 99% / 77% / 2.2  Northern Europe: 98% / 75% / 1.5  Western Europe: 97% / 66% / 1.8 Emerging markets like China, India, and Brazil have a higher social network penetration than Western Europe. Membership penetration, average number of networks and daily usage are higher in these countries. In Brazil, 86% are member of at least one network, Brazilian social networkers are member of 3.1 networks on average and 66% log in on a daily basis. Figures for India are comparable or even higher. Awareness, penetration, average number of networks worldwide by region, countries:  Europe: Awareness of at least one network (98%) / Member of at least one network (73%) / Average number of networks one is member of: 1.9  Brazil: 97% / 86% / 3.1
  28. 28. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 27  India: 98% / 88% / 3.9  US: 95% / 76% / 2.1  Australia: 96% / 67% / 1.5  Japan: 86% /34% / 1.8  China: 75% / 44% / 3.4 The study found that awareness of Facebook is close to 100%, with more than 400 million people using Facebook daily. Average Facebook session lasts 37 minutes. There is a big Twitter paradox: while 80% is aware of Twitter, only 16% is using it. Average Twitter session lasts 23 minutes. Vkontakte is big in Eastern Europe, with 55% awareness and 39% penetration. The Study has shown that it will be difficult for new social networks to succeed; with 60% of social networkers who do not want any new social networks and 93% that are happy with what they have and won't increase or decrease their use. InSites believes that big social networks will get bigger and small ones will get smaller. The Study also found that:  People connect online with their offline friends and that people love to connect to people.  More than half of social network users are connected to brands.  Offline brand experiences are the main online conversation starters.  Positive experiences are bigger conversation starters than negative experiences. People like positive stuff.  People become a fan on Facebook because they like the product, not because of advertising.  36% posted content about a brand on social networks.  38% of internet users has a smartphone. They are more intensive users of social networks than people without a smartphone. Most used apps are social network apps. (InSites Consulting, 2011) Social media is having a major impact on all parts of the travel life cycle. For example, feedback is instantaneous, causing airlines to respond to customers where and when an incident occurs. 65% of respondents worldwide to a JD Power research use social media for travel-related purposes, according to an Amadeus Report entitled "The always-connected traveller: How mobile will transform the future of air travel". Use of social media for travel-related purposes by countries: TOTAL: 65% of respondents using social media travel-related sites ASIA  China: 92%  Hong Kong: 85%  India: 71%  Japan: 42%  Singapore: 81% LATIN AMERICA  Argentina: 72%  Brazil: 69%  Chile: 78%  Mexico: 78% NORTH AMERICA  Canada: 66%  US: 59% EUROPE  France: 46%  Germany: 60%  Italy: 59%  Spain: 71%  Sweden: 53%  UK: 77% MIDDLE EAST  Egypt: 59%  Saudi Arabia: 53%  UAE: 54% (amadeus, 2011)
  29. 29. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 28 The number of Facebook users in the US will increase 13.4% in 2011, according to eMarketer estimates, after 38.6% growth in 2010 and a whopping 90.3% rise the year before. The rate of adult Twitter user adoption has similarly begun to plateau, dropping from 293.1% growth in 2009 to 26.3% this year and still slowing. In many developing countries, these and other networks are seeing their audience growth taper off as most new users come from other countries such as the BRIC nations and Indonesia. Meanwhile, users in more advanced countries have been shifting their behaviors after spending years on the sites. According to the GlobalWebIndex’s "Wave 5 Trends" report, social network usage growth has all but stopped among 16- to 24-year-olds in the US, and in a few countries usage within this already-saturated group is actually declining. Among those who remain on Facebook, GlobalWebIndex’s reports, there were declines in participation in activities like messaging with friends, sending digital gifts, installing applications and joining groups between July 2009 and June 2011. The activities on the wane are decreasing faster in the US than worldwide, and are often decreasing even further among college-educated US users under the age of 30. Meanwhile, on microblogs like Twitter, the heaviest users are focused on disseminating content. Links to other microblogs, personal photos, and links to videos and news stories were the top subjects of status updates on these real-time oriented social sites among frequent users. Other than personal photos, these all relate to content created by others, while most content creation activities scored lower. The report also noted the high demand for professional content. Traditional sources of news were dominant, including among micro bloggers and heavy social network users. And when asked what they want from brands, consumers ask for knowledge and, among younger adults, entertainment. Brands have an opportunity to use the transmission-oriented social media landscape to disseminate valuable content to followers-who in turn are hungry for interesting and entertaining content to transmit. (eMarketer, 2011) There were over 835 million Facebook subscribers worldwide in March 2012, according to Internet World Stats. Their Facebook Penetration Rate, the index or ratio, expressed in percent, relates the number of Facebook subscribers to the total population of the region or country, indicating that one out of every ten persons in the world has a Facebook account (12.1%).
  30. 30. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 29 (Internet World Stats, 2012) Facebook has announced a new video calling feature which will be powered by Skype. For Skype, the attraction of partnering with Facebook is that their video calls will start being used by some of the less affluent but prolific internet users. Facebook on the other hand will get to tap into the multi-ethnic audiences that Skype already attracts. The integration of video calling into Facebook should help the social network extend its dominance in the market. (Experian, 2011) Erik Qualman has launched in June 2011 its latest update of its "Social Media Revolution" video series. Key findings include:
  31. 31. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 30  Facebook tops Google for weekly traffic in the US  If Facebook were a country it would be the world's 3rd largest  50% of the mobile internet traffic in the UK is for Facebook  YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world  A new member joins LinkedIn every second  Generation Y and Z consider e-mail passé  eReaders have surpassed traditional book sales  GROUPON will reach $1 billion in sales faster than any company in history  34% of bloggers post opinions about products & brands  90% of consumers trust peer recommendations; only 14% trust advertisements  93% of marketers use social media for business (Socialnomics, 2011) Simon Jones, director of marketing at Digital Visitor shared the social media trends to watch in 2012: 1. Social media as a customer service tool: Social media allows businesses to quickly and economically communicate to a large audience and in 2012, we will see more and more organizations using it as a customer service tool. 2. More companies using social media sites for competitions: While there have already been some great examples of companies using social media sites such as Facebook to run competitions, we will see more companies launch exciting and creative competitions via social media to make them really stand out from their competitors. 3. Social media will more prominently affect search engine results: In addition to crawling traditional content of a company's website and blogs for relevant keywords, search engines will also pull results from social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Therefore, as we search online, we will start to see more real-time information in our results from Facebook, Twitter, blogs and user generated reviews. 4. More companies will include user reviews and ratings on their websites: There are flurries of statistics across all industries that prove why online reviews are important for businesses today, particularly how they impact purchasing decisions, so we will start to see more businesses gathering user reviews and ratings on their websites. 5. Social media and relevance: Social media has become everything to everyone, and as more and more people and brands engage via the ever growing number of social media sites, the question of how to match up relevant information with the right people will become vital for businesses to succeed. 6. With over 98,000 tweets per minute, 695,000 Facebook status updates per minute, 79, 364 Facebook wall posts per minute and 600 new YouTube videos uploaded per minute (and this is just the tip of the iceberg), it is important to provide people with the information that you know they are interested in or they will quickly be ‘turned off'. 7. Greater impact for social media in B2B sector: Traditionally, B2C marketers have been the first to realize the benefits of social media marketing and while it has in the past year been on the rise among B2B brands, the impact and benefits of social media marketing for this sector will become more valid in 2012. (Eye for travel, 2011) Google has launched a new social networking website in its latest attempt to take on Facebook, which now claims more than 500 million users. Google+ allows individuals to share photos, messages and comments but also integrates the company's maps and images into the service. It also aims to help users easily organize contacts within groups.
  32. 32. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 31 But some analysts say Google has simply reproduced features of Facebook while adding a video chat function. Google, which handles roughly two out of every three internet searches in the US, has taken several stabs at Facebook in recent years. But its previous efforts ended in failure, with both Google Wave and Google Buzz proving unpopular with users. The company is now boasting that four features in Google+ could help make the company a permanent player in social networking:  Circles - a functionality that allows individuals to place friends into groups, allowing users to share different forms of content with targeted clusters of friends  Hangouts - live multi-user video conferencing that permits friends to drop in and out of live group conversations  Huddle - group instant messaging  Sparks - a feature that connects individuals on the network to others with common interests. The current version of Google+ has only been released to a small number of users, but the company has said it soon hopes to make the social network available to the millions of individuals that use its services each day. (BBC News - Technology, 2011) Facebook has continued to grow during the first quarter of 2011, showing an increase of approximately 79 million users, going from 585 to over 664 million subscribers worldwide, according to Internet World Stats. Regarding demographics, nearly 30% of the new Facebook registrations are from users in the 18-24 age group. This age group remains the largest with 210 million registered Facebook users. The next in size is the 25-34 age group with approximately 20 million new subscribers, for a total of 174 million registered Facebook users. The third group, both in growth and in size, is the 35-44 age group with an increase of nearly 11 million new subscribers, for a total of 90 million Facebook users. In summary, 72 % of all Facebook users, 475 million approximately, are in the age group between 18 and 44 years of age. Facebook continues to grow and attracts new users every day in over 213 countries and regions of the world. Almost one out of every ten persons in the world has a Facebook account. (Internet World Stats, 2011) Twitter users (especially ones with more followers and thus, presumably, more experience) tend to ask questions with tweets directed at all followers rather than using @ replies or direct messages, according to May 2011 research from InboxQ, a service to feed businesses questions from Twitter. This means questions are often not directed at a relevant brand, but many users want brands to answer them anyway. Eight in 10 Twitter users surveyed worldwide said they thought the answers businesses posted on Twitter were at least as trustworthy as those from regular people, and about six in ten said they wanted businesses to respond to them on the microblogging service. Twitter users worldwide who would like to receive answers from businesses to their questions on Twitter, by number of followers, May 2011 (% of respondents): Yet just 21% of Twitter users with under 100 followers and 41% of users with over 100 followers said they had actually received a response from a business via Twitter. Users indicated that more responsive brands would benefit from greater loyalty and purchasing. Almost 60% of respondents said they would be more likely to follow a brand that answered them, and 64% said they would be more likely to make a purchase from that brand. (eMarketer, 2011)
  33. 33. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 32 While the main reason to bring a mobile phone on trips remains making calls, 38% have used their mobile devices to plan a trip and 60% of respondents said they have downloaded travel apps on their mobile devices, according to a TripAdvisor survey. Smartphone adoption around the world is skyrocketing, and is fundamentally changing the way people get travel advice, according to Mike Putnam, director of mobile product for TripAdvisor. Whether it is finding the perfect museum or restaurant, booking a hotel or a flight, or sharing advice, it is clear that travellers around the world now rely on their smartphones and other mobile devices to plan and have better trips. Other than calls and sending text messages, the top activities travelers use their mobile devices for when traveling include:  65% taking/sharing photos  54% surfing online  52% navigation  48% staying on top of the news  36% games When asked what parts of the travel planning process they conduct on their mobile devices, the TripAdvisor survey found:  52% researched restaurants  46% read about destinations  45% read traveller reviews  42% booked or researched accommodations  34% booked or researched flights. While travelling, 62% of travellers said they use their mobile devices to research restaurants. 51% check their flight status and 46% research attractions. 28% have checked in to a restaurant, hotel or attraction using their mobile device while on a trip, according to TripAdvisor. (treocentral, 2011) The number of people using Facebook has dropped in the UK for the second month in a row, mirroring similar falls in the US, Canada and Norway, giving the first signs that the social network's popularity may be waning in the west, according to data from the tracking company Inside Facebook, which uses Facebook's own advertising tools to determine the number of people using the site every month. The drop in use was most marked in the US, where numbers fell from May's 155.2 million, just under half the 239 million people online, to 149.4 million at the start of June. It marked the first time in a year that the number of people logging into the site over a month had fallen. In the UK, the fall was smaller at around 100,000 users to 29.8 million, or 58% of the 51.4 million people online. Canada saw a fall of 1.62 million to 16.6 million, while Norway also saw a fall of around 100,000 users over the month. The website continued to grow worldwide, hitting an all-time high of 687 million users, according to Inside Facebook. Growth slowed however, having risen by 13.9 million accounts in April and then just 11.8 million in May. Typically in the past year it has grown by 20 million a month. That slowdown could thwart founder Mark Zuckerberg's ambition to reach 1 billion users worldwide, despite his prediction last June that "it is almost a guarantee that it will happen". The fastest-growing countries, including Brazil and Mexico, grew at a maximum of 10% over the month. Facebook still dominates the world in terms of social network use, with Russia and China marking the biggest holdouts where home-grown networks are the most popular. Growth in Facebook use seems to peak in any country once the site is used by roughly half of those who have internet connections - though with more than 2 billion people online worldwide, the site could still reach the 1 billion figure. However, it would need people who have joined the site to stay with it - and that hasn't been happening in some countries. The fall in users is most marked in those developed countries where Facebook
  34. 34. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 33 first launched to the public in September 2006, after its first two years when it catered only to US College and high school users. Magnus Hoglund, chief executive of the law media portal, who has worked on digital media companies for the past decade has said that from his experience, he gets the sense that being on Facebook is not cool anymore. The early adopters and trend setters are moving away. But these are also exactly the type of people brand advertisers want to reach; if they are leaving, it doesn't look good for Facebook. The site has been criticised in the west for its approach to users' privacy, with repeated protests about the way in which controls on data access are relaxed. In Early June, the revelation that it had extended an automatic facial recognition system for tagging photos beyond the US without asking people if they wanted to opt in drew criticism from privacy groups and security consultants. A spokeswoman for Facebook has said that they are very pleased with their growth and with the way people are engaged with Facebook. More than 50% of their active users log on to Facebook in any given day. (The Guardian, 2011) The Netherlands has an exceptionally high representation among social networking sites and, ranking #1 among all countries in internet penetration for these sites, according to comScore. In each case, more than one in four Dutch internet users visits these sites during the course of the month. While the top ten countries in LinkedIn penetration are either English-speaking or in Western Europe, the top countries for Twitter touch virtually every corner of the globe. (comScore, 2011) Some of the world's most avid social network users live in Indonesia, where more than half of the country's online population participates on social networking sites, according to the Boston Consulting Group. Like in a number of emerging markets where most of the population earn low incomes, users in Indonesia tend to connect to networks via mobile devices rather than PCs. Facebook has 35.2 million members in Indonesia, making it the second-largest market for the network, according to Web users of all ages, ranging from teenagers to those over 50, are using Facebook to stay connected and updated with friends. Top ten countries, ranked by number of Facebook members, April 1, 2011: Using Facebook primarily via mobile means a different mix of social networking activities for users and marketers alike. Social networkers take advantage of Facebook Chat as a free alternative to SMS and voice calls, for example. And marketers that, in the US, may have relied on Facebook display advertising, do so less frequently in Indonesia because banners do not appear on social networks accessed through mobile devices. Top 10 Countries in Internet Penetration for and by Reach (%) March 2011 Total Internet, Age 15+, Home & Work Locations % Reach % Reach Netherlands 26.1% Netherlands 26.8% Ireland 21.0% Japan 26.6% United States 17.6% Brazil 23.7% Canada 15.6% Indonesia 22.0% United Kingdom 14.9% Venezuela 21.0% Denmark 14.4% Canada 18.0% Australia 13.1% Argentina 18.0% New Zealand 12.9% Turkey 16.6% Belgium 12.6% Philippines 16.1% Singapore 12.0% Singapore 16.0% Source: comScore Media Metrix
  35. 35. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 34 Further, ecommerce is challenging because few people in Indonesia have credit cards and bank accounts. But marketers are finding ways to bypass a card-based payment system. Mobile social networking application provider Mig33, for example, has developed a virtual economy in which 4,000 merchants in 150 countries (Indonesia being its largest market) sell prepaid cards whose credits can be used to exchange virtual gifts, play online games and create avatar communities. Taking advantage of the nation's highly mobile population, location-based services such as Indonesia-based Yahoo!Koprol, with 1.5 million users, and foursquare are growing fast. Yahoo!Koprol has strong ties with prominent regional brands such as Black Canyon Coffee, cinema operator Blitzmegaplez and Celebrity Fitness. It also recently launched Koprol for Business to help small- and medium-sized businesses incorporate location- based social networking as part of their marketing strategy. These examples indicate marketers are finding ways to reach online consumers in countries where mobile is the screen of choice and credit card access is limited. Targeting consumers through location-based social networks and offering a virtual currency system rather than online advertising are two techniques helping marketers achieve their goals. (eMarketer, 2011) While Facebook provides a highly effective advertising platform, commerce on the social network might not take off, according to a report by Forrester Research. According to the report, email has better customer acquisition rates than social networking. Some of the highlights of the report:  There are retailers (albeit small ones) seeing a double-digit percent of their sales coming through their Facebook stores. These companies often have unique demographics or marketing models (e.g., flash sales) that drive this behaviour.  Facebook's "data layer" is probably one of the most underleveraged assets that exists with respect to F- commerce. There is myriad information about fans, what products consumers are liking, and competitive insights that can be gleaned from merchant and consumer activity on and off Facebook.  Facebook credits is a non-starter for most retailers. This is the "currency" that consumers can use to buy, say, potatoes on Farmville. Facebook, however, has little to no credibility with respect to financial services among consumers, and the same retailers reluctant to implement PayPal (which so many large merchants are) will be 10 times more resistant to a less-tried, less-reliable, newer payment mark. (Forrester, 2011) LivingSocial has hired Doug Miller (formerly at Expedia) illustrating the company growth ambition in the travel industry. Consumers don't always have an easy time finding a "near-cation" options, because the travel industry's not set up to market well to locals. That's the void that LivingSocial hopes to fill. The company sends members a weekly email that touts several hotel deals. The deals are available for purchase only for seven days, and the time frame for use varies but generally lasts one year. Once you make your purchase, it's up to you to call and set up your trip, which gives the hotel a chance to try to sell you on an extra night or two since many people like to escape for more than one night. To promote sharing, LivingSocial Escapes promises you a free escape if you share a deal with friends and three of them buy it. Facebook is fast becoming more than a customer relationship tool for many independent properties and chains. Many hotels now offer room-booking technology on their Facebook pages, which is leading to incremental sales. Douglas Quinby, senior director of research for PhoCusWright indicates that over the course of 2009, they saw the volume of direct referrals from Facebook to hotel websites grow. The conversion rate was higher for Facebook than it was for TripAdvisor and other travel review sites.
  36. 36. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 35 The conversion rate on direct referrals from traveler review sites to hotel supplier websites ranged from 4% to 6% in 2009, while conversion from Facebook to hotel websites was 8%. (Hotelmarketing, 2011) In an email to Twitter users, "Get the most out of Twitter in 2011," the company mentioned at the bottom that there are "about 200 million accounts on Twitter now." This is an increase from the previously reported figure of 175 million and now puts Twitter at approximately a third of Facebook's user base. What's interesting is that the theme of the email involves "coming back" to Twitter, which implies that a large portion of the newly announced 200 million users isn't terribly active. The email suggests ways to use Twitter and reasons to come back into the fold, including the fact that "people turn to Twitter during emergencies." This indicates: a) that there's some value in using recent unrest in Egypt as a way to stimulate more end-user activity and b) that the company generally needs to reengage a significant part of its user base. (Social Times, 2011) Sharing holiday snaps through Facebook, the social network with over 500 million users worldwide, is not only helping people stay connected in the virtual world, but also influencing people's travels in the real world, according to a poll by found that the ‘power of pictures' has a very strong influence on Facebookers' travel plans, with more than half (52%) stating that seeing friends' holiday pictures had inspired them to book a holiday to the same place. Despite the well-worn joke surrounding the boredom of being subjected to other people's holiday snaps, a whopping 88% of respondents loved to nose through their friends' shots with half of those admitting to doing so because "they could see what they had got up to and with whom!" Forty-five percent of respondents also said that Facebook encourages them to visit their friends abroad more and despite some recent reports that have claimed Facebook reduces real life contact, only 5% of people said that being on Facebook actually meant they were less likely to see their friends in person. The Skyscanner survey also revealed that Facebook plays an increasing part in the organization of group travel with 46% of people having either organized or been invited on a trip via the site. (TourismExchange, 2011) Hoteliers, B&B owners and innkeepers are embracing online engagement with consumers to attract travellers in 2011, according to a TripAdvisor survey. More than half (or 57%) expect their social media marketing budgets to increase this year over last. According to the TripAdvisor survey, most property owners expect room rates will either hold steady (51 percent) or decrease (four percent), while 45 percent expect rates to increase. Yet, owners appear to be investing in their properties, as 61 percent said they are planning renovations to the interior of their properties in 2011. Forty-two percent of survey respondents said they are planning renovations to the exterior of their properties this year. Most owners also appear to be embracing online engagement with consumers, as 57 percent expect their social media marketing budgets to increase this year versus last year. Thirty-seven percent with social media budgets expect them to stay the same, and only six percent anticipate social media budget cuts. Meanwhile, virtually all owners surveyed (99 percent) plan to respond to online guest reviews. Survey respondents also offered insights into a range of other hospitality industry trends, from mobile marketing to plans to implement green programs this year. Mobile Marketing is a Growing Trend  27 percent of survey respondents plan to launch programs, for the first time in 2011, to engage with travelers using mobile devices.
  37. 37. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 36  Another 27 percent indicated that they had offered such programs last year and will continue to do so this year.  46 percent have no plans to offer programs to engage travelers using mobile devices in 2011. Responding to Online Guest Reviews in 2011  72 percent will respond to both positive and negative reviews.  14 percent will respond only to negative reviews.  13 percent will respond only to positive reviews.  One percent have no plans to respond to reviews. Getting Noticed Online with Photos  According to the survey, 10 percent of respondents said they posted 11-20 photos of each of their properties on TripAdvisor last year.  Many accommodation owners are planning to increase the number of photos per property in 2011, as the number of respondents planning to post 11-20 photos per property on TripAdvisor in 2011 rose to 26 percent.  Still, the majority of owners (67 percent) said they will post 1-10 photos per property this year. Deals Owners Plan to Use Most Often This Year to Attract Guests  Discounts on rooms – 61%  Special amenities – 36%  Rewards points – 29%  Deals on nearby attractions – 23%  Free night’s stay with booking – 16% Few Planning to Charge Consumers Additional Fees  According to the survey, 94 percent have no plans to charge consumers additional fees for amenities.  Six percent, however, do plan to add fees for such items. Most Accommodations Offering Free In-Room Internet Access Accommodation owners seem to be meeting a key consumer demand - staying connected while traveling:  91 percent of respondents said that they will offer in-room Internet access as a free amenity in 2011.  Five percent of respondents will offer in-room Internet access for a fee this year.  Four percent said they had no plans to offer in-room Internet access. Eco-Friendly Programs on the Rise in 2011  47 percent of travelers take eco-friendly factors into consideration when making travel plans.  Environmental concerns are also an important factor for owners, as 70 percent of survey respondents plan to offer programs in 2011 to reduce their impact on the environment.  By contrast, 30 percent of accommodation owners have no plans to implement such programs. “TripAdvisor’s first annual Accommodation Owners Survey suggests that the hotel industry is still being affected by a slow economy, as the majority of respondents don't foresee room rate increases this year,” said Christine Petersen, president of TripAdvisor for Business. “Yet, savvy hoteliers are attempting to stand apart from the crowd by embracing social media, launching mobile marketing features and offering the programs consumers demand most.” (Hotelmarketing, 2011)
  38. 38. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 37 Two percent of all users produce the majority of content on Twitter, according to Sysomos. Sysomos' Twitter stats are some of the most robust and speak about Twitter as an active community that saw immense growth this past year. The company examined over a billion tweets and over 20 million users through 2010. The number of Twitter users who are willing to share personal information in their bios has nearly doubled compared to 2009. A full 69% of users have a completed bio now, compared to only 31% in 2009. Specifically, 82% provide a name, 73% divulge location information, and 45% include a link to a website. From January 2010 to mid-August 2010, new users accounted for about 44% of all Twitter users. This means in just about eight months, the population of Twitter has nearly doubled. Sysomos also reveals that only 2.12% of Twitter users have more than 1,000 followers, while nearly 96% has under 500. Likely due to the large chunk of Twitter users who are new to the service, only 2.7% have made more than 5,000 tweets, while over 80% have made under 500. And it looks like there is a small group of hard-core Twitterati that make up the bulk of the conversation on Twitter. 2.2% of Twitter users make up just under 60% of all tweets, while 22.5% account for 90% of everything that goes on within the Twitter-verse. Sysomos found that many of these "most active" Twitter accounts are actually automatic feed generators. The number-one tweeter in 2010 was an account called Qanow with more than 366,000 tweets to its name. A quick glance at the account itself, however, shows that it's not really a "person" - every tweet (coming in at 1 to 5 minute intervals throughout the day) includes a link to the Qanow website with a tracking number attached.
  39. 39. Global insight on Social Networking and User Generated Content in Travel Industry 38 (mediabistro, 2010) Twitter's user base has experienced infamous growth over the past couple years, with the company announcing in December that 100 million new accounts had been opened in 2010 and eMarketer estimating that the US Twitter population rose from 18 million in 2009 to 26 million last year. The social media service may also be beginning to mature as a community. Users' following habits have changed dramatically since 2009, according to research from Sysomos. That year, nearly two in five Twitter users around the world followed five people or fewer. By 2010 that group had been sliced nearly in half, indicating more participation among users. There was also a sharp difference in the proportion of accounts who were followed by five or fewer other users, dropping from 46% of the total in 2009 to 32% in 2010. Twitter users worldwide, by number of people followed, 2009 & 2010: While a relatively small group of users still posts the lion's share of tweets, this suggests Twitter has become a more participatory community, possibly making the site stickier for members and increasing conversation levels. Users are also willing to tell Twitter; and whoever else may be looking; more about themselves. There was a near- doubling in the proportion of accounts worldwide that provided data on their location, name, biography and URL between 2009 and 2010. Information that Twitter users worldwide provide on their profile, 2010: Shown in next exhibit.