The (not that) global conversation

I stumbled upon an interesting post on Gaping Silence (great blog, by the way) and commented it before realizing the post was allmost one year old. I liked this provoking thought:

You get a myth which diverges radically from the reality. The myth is that this is where the Web-for-everyone comes into its own, where millions of users of what was built as a broadcast Web with walled-garden interactive features start talking back to the broadcasters and breaking out of their walled gardens. The reality is that the voices of the geeks are heard even more loudly – and even more disproportionately – than before

Phil, the author of this post also gives a few figures from a study conducted among american students (march 2006):

MySpace is huge, and Facebook’s even huger, but Web 2.0 as we know it? It’s not there. 1.9% use Flickr; 1.6% use Digg; 0.7% use del.icio.us. Answering a slightly different question, 1.5% have ever visited Boingboing, and 1% Technorati. By contrast, 62% have visited CNN.com and 21% bbc.co.uk. It’s still, very largely, a broadcast Web with walled-garden interactivity.

I had a look at the most recent worldwide comscore figures today and paid attention to some emblematic sites of web 2.0. Here are some of those figures:

  • Facebook is doing good with a global reach of 5.1%, 22 monthly visits per unique user and an excellent average of 10 minutes per visit
  • Social bookmarking remains very niche: Delicious has 0.5% of global reach, only 1.5 monthly visits per unique visitor and an average of 1 minute per visit (and a quiet limited growth on the last 6 months)
  • engadget.com, the technorati champion, has slightly better results than delicious with 0.5% reach (5 times more than boingboing), 1.9 monthly visits per unique visitor and 1.5 minutes per visit
  • Twitter is still tiny: less than 0.1% reach, 1,8 monthly visits per unique visitor and 2,7 minutes per visit (this doesn’t include usage on mobile devices)
  • Google, Microsoft properties and Yahoo are the only properties with more than 60% reach worldwide. Microsoft is by far the champion of the minutes spent on its network (overall and per user)

You also have some 2.0 big guys out there: like wikipedia (27% reach), youtube (22%) or myspace (14%) but I remain with the impression that our perception of the market is a little biased by our blogging and social networking own experiences.

Reach is not a central element of the new marketing but are the audiences of web 2.0 important enough for the major brands? I don’t think so.

I don’t want to say that the conversation doesn’t make sense. Au contraire! Nevertheless, many people haven’t joinded the global conversation yet. The web 2.0 will lead brands to redefine their marketing mix. This will be a matter of proportions (how much do I withdraw from TV to invest in conversational monitoring and marketing?), of marketing goals (Which marketing objective will be fulfilled thanks to conversational marketing?) and processes (How do I spread the consumer feedback in my company? How does it impact my value proposition?).

Don’t get me wrong. the reach of the social media is growing (not booming) and brands already need to consider this phenomenon but let’s remain realistic and face the facts: We are maybe overhyping the conversation…. or overhyping marketing through social networks.

Am I wrong? What is your interpretation of the web 2.0 figures?

15 Responses to “The (not that) global conversation”

  1. Mark Goren Says:

    Excellent post, Philippe. While it’s our role to inform our clients about the power and potential of these web 2.0 sites and tools, we also have to recognize that widespread adoption hasn’t happened yet – and that it’s our responsibility to present the tools as such. Not that they can’t be powerful – we’re the people playing with and testing them – it’s just that we’ll have to stem the initial skepticism when we introduce these ideas.

  2. Ryan Karpeles Says:

    Philippe,

    Great post, and thanks for all the updated stats. At this point, I think “social media” (or whatever the heck you want to call it) is a double-edged sword. Like you said, it’s not used by the majority. But therein lies the beauty…

    Using social media is currently a point of differentiation. A competitive advantage, if you will. The lack of companies using it makes its value go up for companies who DO use it.

    And thus, we have a paradox: Social media staying small keeps it a competitive advantage. But it’s still small. Social media going mainstream would be great for companies and their consumers, but at some point it won’t have as much impact as it currently does.

    That might have to be a post of it’s own…🙂 Good stuff, as always.

  3. Pieter Ardinois Says:

    great post. Thanks for the figures!
    I think that the awareness of fast changing lifestyles due to technical evolutions (blogging, ugc platforms, messengers, mobile phones, tv on demand, …) is as important as using those particular media to reach a specific audience.

  4. Philippe Says:

    Thanks for your nice comments and your very valid remarks. Keep them coming.
    I just learned that one of our top european executives made a presentation on web 2.0 with as tagline “overhyped and undervalued”. I’m looking forward to see it.

  5. Tim Brunelle Says:

    Philippe: Thanks for the diligent research and succinct analysis. Can’t say much more than I agree with Mark, Ryan and Pieter. I don’t think Web 2.0 is “overhyped” because the vast majority of computer users don’t even know it exists–they don’t even know there’s hype. But I do agree it’s undervalued, and likely will remain so for the next 12-18 months. We just have to get past the iPhone bubble, first.😉

  6. Chris Wexler Says:

    Great post.

    The one thought I have — is Web 2.0 ever going to be truly a mass media? It seems to me that most people are satisfied to sit back and have Pat O’Brien tell them the latest Paris update.

    Web 2.0 may be the native habitat of the classic “influencer” — and if that is the case, 1% reach is actulally 10-12% of the available audience, depending on how many “influencers” you believe are out there.

    I frankly don’t know if I beleive my own thought process there — after all I was sure that cell phones would “remain niche” in 1990…

  7. Overhyped and undervalued « ‘Cross The Breeze Says:

    […] and undervalued 11 06 2007 Last week Philippe made a great post on the (not so) global conversation, talking about the still rather limited reach numbers of most of the web2.0 services out there. […]

  8. Philippe Says:

    Chris, we will maybe have to wait the internet native generation. When you look at the behaviour of the 12-24, they are socialising much more online than my generation (I’m 37). I have a study about youth online that is taglined “My mates are my media”.

  9. Social media statistics « Bad idea, indeed Says:

    […] media statistics Last year I wrote a post about the reach statistics of social media. Last year (Comscore figures of june 2007), Facebook had 5,1% reach on the worldwide internet […]

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