How the Web affects brands

Last week, I shared with you the latest findings from BrandAsset Valuator – the world’s biggest database of brand health. I did this because here in Africa we are participating in the ICT revolution on equal terms with the rest of the world. Ergo, what is happening elsewhere on the globe is happening here too.
Chris Harrison
Chris Harrison

Last week, I shared with you the latest findings from BrandAsset Valuator – the world’s biggest database of brand health. I did this because here in Africa we are participating in the ICT revolution on equal terms with the rest of the world. Ergo, what is happening elsewhere on the globe is happening here too.

I highlighted three significant trends are emerging from new media and it’s associated with consumer behaviours. These are Social, Mobile and Local, and the importance lies in how they are converging.

Let’s look today at how Social and Mobile are coming together. To contextualise this, the global average for social network penetration of the population is now 52%. When I tell you that more Americans are on the Internet than have a passport, that won’t surprise you. Didn’t they have a President without a passport some time back?

And how about Twitter, the most powerful social media brand, which older people love to ‘diss’? It’s broken the 350 million tweets a day barrier.

So there is no longer any doubt that social media, for marketers, must be the backbone of digital contact with consumers. It influences search, e-commerce, content and communications. The team at BrandAsset Consulting even go so far as to say that it now provides a cultural and behavioural overlay over the entire Web. In other words, people are seeing the Web through social media. So when you spot a billboard ( as I did for Miller Genuine Draft beer) it is entirely appropriate that it contains the call to action: ‘catch us on Facebook’.

In India there are 33m social media users, spending on average 13 hours a month on social sites. Imagine how that will climb when India follows Africa into broadband? Sorry, couldn’t resist that dig. We are always being told that India is a template for Africa. And it’s so not.

In America, a man called Eric Fisher has created an amazing image by plotting active Twitter and Flickr user locations. See it at http://aphelis.net/eric-fisher-2011. Apart from a mysterious blackout in the MidWest that runs from the Canadian border to Mexico, it’s like a night view of an electrified continent. I wish someone would do the same for Africa, because I am sure it would silence the doubters.

So how is Mobile doing in the face of this onslaught? Very nicely thank you.

With over 5 billion handsets worldwide, and exponential growth in smart phones. Here in Africa, we already know that anyone under 25 is accessing the Web through their phone. And if mobile banking customers globally are due to reach 1.5 billion by 2015, guess how many there will be in Africa, with our heritage of mass mobile finance adoption.

Now here’s an image that makes me chuckle. Bank marketers at their desks

wondering how on earth they will control all these customer relationships.

Statement stuffers? No. Impertinent mini research questionnaires? No thanks.

Truth is, these relationships will control and define them, and not the other way around. And for a group of people who have only just made the journey from bank circulars to campaigns that tell us they really care, this is a sweaty time.

More people are now searching the web through mobile applications than traditional search engines. Imagine we can now call Google and Yahoo traditional. Mobile music is now so prevalent in our culture that most up-to -date dictionaries no longer contain the words ‘cassette tape’.

But here’s one for the oldies. In the West, it’s the over-55’s who are adopting smart phone technology the fastest. And one for people who have not yet lost touch with reality? One in three Americans claim they would rather give up sex than their smartphone. How are the mighty falling.

Chris Harrison Chairman Young & Rubicam Group Africa

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