The Era of Mass Social Communication

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					                                        Digital Media
                                         The Era of Mass Social Communication:
                                         Leveraging User-Generated Status Updates to Maximize ROI

                                         Lead Analyst
                                          Zak Kirchner

                                         Contributing Analyst
                                         Marissa Gluck

Interpret’s New Media Measure Interpretations are monthly syndicated research from Interpret’s category experts, providing in-depth analyses on trends
and market information in Digital Media, Mobile and Video Games. For more information, email or call (310) 255-0590.

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Published April 2010. © 2010 Interpret, LLC
The Era of Mass Social Communication: Leveraging User-Generated Status Updates to Maximize ROI

Catalyst: Real-time status updates are relatively new on the social network landscape, but who is best
positioned to use these updates in their social media strategy?

Core Questions:
   • What do social-networkers talk about in their status updates?
   • How can companies leverage status updates more effectively in their social-media strategy?

Interpret Insight:
Status updates are becoming a mainstream method for consumers to communicate their opinions, as
60 percent of social networkers now either update their own status or use status updates to keep up
with their friends. Interpret’s New Media Measure™ finds that the entertainment industry is
positioned to use this organic social communication, but movie studios, record companies, TV
networks and video game publishers need to incentivize consumers to promote their products
through these updates with highly interactive and rewarding media campaigns.

The Evolution of Social Communication

Social networks have evolved rapidly in the past five years. When websites like MySpace and
Facebook first emerged, they were simply networks of connected user profiles with very basic
communication features. Facebook was initially introduced to college campuses as a website where
students could connect and send messages to other students in their classes or dorms. Today,
Facebook barely resembles the website launched in January of 2004. Today’s social networking sites
now include more advanced features such as photo sharing, groups, event planning and games.
These new features deepened relationships and integrated social networks more profoundly into
consumers’ lives than ever before, but none of them fundamentally changed the way people
expressed and processed communication like real-time status updates would.

Although it started in 2006, Twitter exploded into the public consciousness in 2009 with its rapid
adoption among the tech community. Although its growth has since slowed, Twitter revolutionized
the way people think about social communication because the network was built around mass
communication status updates and placed less emphasis on individual relationships. It turned
Marshall McLuhan’s iconic phrase on its head by making the message the medium. Whether it was
personal insights, inspirational quotes or breaking news, Twitter demonstrated that users enjoyed
engaging with real-time information. After a failed attempt to acquire Twitter, Facebook decided to
take the blossoming social network head on when it introduced its own status update features in
2006. The introduction of status updates to the largest social network in the world solidified the
importance of real-time feeds in digital communications, providing a compelling alternative to RSS
(Really Simple Syndication).
State of the Status Update

                      Q: Which of the following activities have you done on a social networking site in the past month?

                                                             60% Have
                                                           Updated their
                                                            Status OR
                                          47%              Kept Up with                          41%                          59%

                            Updated Status                                              Kept Up With Friend's Status Updates

                                                                       Source: Interpret New Media Measure, Wave 4 2009. n=5,780 Social Networkers

Fig 1
Facebook’s integration of status updates and message walls as the cornerstone of their user-interface
established the mass communication features pioneered by Twitter as an integral part of the social
networking experience. By the end of 2009, Interpret’s New Media Measure™ found that 47 percent
of social-networkers updated their status in the past month and 41 percent used status updates to
keep up with their friends (Fig 1). In total, 60 percent of all social-networkers, representing 82 million
people, had either updated their own status or used status updates to keep up with their friends.
Entertaining the Masses’ Communi
Description: Real-time status updates are relatively new on the social network landscape, but who’s best positioned to use these updates in their social media strategy?
Interpret is the leading cross-media market research firm. The company applies proprietary, cutting-edge methodologies and extensive category knowledge to help clients plan, test, and measure business strategies in the fast-evolving media landscape. Interpret's innovative focus on evaluating and measuring the intersections of content, technology, advertising and consumer behavior has attracted significant players across the media and entertainment landscape, including leaders in the home entertainment, consumer electronics, video game, digital media, mobile content, theatrical and advertising industries. Interpret's unique combination of syndicated measurement products and custom market research services provides a common language across media for the key stakeholders of the digital age. Based in Los Angeles, New York and Dallas, with partners worldwide, Interpret's "on the ground" staff, strategic partnerships and strong vendor relationships give the company global reach throughout North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific.