The emergence of social networks has brought about a profound transformation in the interaction between companies and customers. No organization now doubts the need to be present on the networks, but the continuous changes they are undergoing make it difficult to manage them. That is why you should read this article.

The information contained in this article comes from the conclusions of the report ‘Social Networks: current status and trends 2023’ directed by OBS Business School professor Santiago Giménez.

The intention of the study is to provide a complete and updated view of the world of social networks and their impact on areas such as communication, culture and commerce, among others. Here we look only at those aspects that concern the corporate environment and how to adapt to the changing demands of users.

Why you need to be on them

Nearly 60% of the world’s population use them: Approximately 5.16 billion people have an Internet connection, of which 4.76 billion are social network users (94.9% of the Internet population). This figure is growing by 3% annually and already represents 59.4% of the world’s population.

Where are these users?

Most of them are in Western countries and Asia. Northern Europe is the area with the highest use of social networks (83.6% of Internet users), Central and Western Europe 83.3%, and North America 73.9%.

The target: 53.7% of network users are men, while 46.3% are women. The vast majority are between 20 and 39 years old.

Daily time spent on the networks.

The average daily time spent on social networks is 2 hours and 31 minutes and is clearly increasing. However, the statistics change according to age and gender so that women aged 16-24 lead the way in daily use of social networks with an average time of 3 hours and 11 minutes a day.

The most used platforms in the world

The principle, this is the order that currently governs:

1st) Facebook remains the most used social platform in the world.

2nd) YouTube is getting closer and closer to Facebook. YouTube is rapidly closing the gap with twice as much audience growth (2.51 billion active users).

3rd) Whatsapp. It is the third most used platform

4th) Instagram, whose audience has grown by more than 35.3% (522 million users).

5th) TikTok also has 5.1% more users than last year, a rapid rise that is due to its popularity among millennials and what is known as Generation Z.

Depending on your target market

TikTok, of Chinese origin, is a network that remains under the magnifying glass of different governments due to the large amount of data it accumulates, something that, according to some, could become a problem. Santiago Giménez explains: “It is true that most social networks carry out the same practice, but since they are Western, there seems to be less concern about how they use the data”. TikTok has also been criticized for its great potential to generate addiction.

For its part, China has blocked Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and, although they are not banned, access to these platforms is not done in the usual way.

The main trends

Commercial weapon. Social networks attract 42% of traffic to e-commerce and 17% of purchases are made through them. This is why the trend is to integrate e-commerce functions into the network itself to enable users to buy products without having to access other sites.

The incorporation of AI. The change that will most mark the networks in the future will be the incorporation of AI, especially for customer service and interaction with users. It is expected that AI systems will be able to generate content autonomously, which would have a significant impact on the production of content and the way it is consumed.

Use of virtual reality: Virtual reality is developing rapidly and is expected to become more integrated into social networks, which would allow users to immerse themselves in shared virtual environments.

User input. User participation and content creation will continue to be a key trend, as platforms will foster this and encourage the sharing of personal experiences.

Specialization. Beyond the large and established platforms, more specialized social networks focused on specific communities are expected to emerge, niche networks that will cater to particular interests, providing users with a more focused and personalized experience.

Ephemeral content: Another current trend is the publication of ephemeral content, the growing use of video, personalization and the integration of augmented reality filters.

Network revenues

Where it comes from. Social networks generate revenue through advertising, collaborations with brands, the promotion of products and services, and the sale of data.

Investment: Investment in social networks already accounts for 33.9% of total digital ad spending. While in 2022 this investment was USD 226 billion, with a growth of 6.9%, (USD 1.78 billion in Spain and a growth of 0.7%), it is expected that in 2024 global investment will exceed USD 300 billion, 33% more than in 2022.

What works best: Social networks such as Meta dominate the advertising market with a 45% market share. On the other hand, it is worth noting that in 2022 more than 27.51 billion USD (an increase of 4.6%) were spent in the world on influencer advertising. In Spain this figure was 271 million, with a growth of 5.1% over the previous year.

Greater privacy: The OBS report foresees greater regulation and responsibility in the world of social networks, where privacy and user security are paramount. The balance between innovation, responsibility and user welfare will be fundamental in determining the future path.

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