I've been looking at a lot of data lately.
Let's start with a bit of a perspective.
There are 3.4B global internet users. And there are about 7.5B people in the world. That's a penetration of 46%.
Is your head spinning? It certainly will be after we go through some of the major learnings I've picked out for you.
Let's get started.
Mobile first is reality
These numbers are for the USA, however, it's very similar in other countries, especially in emerging markets that started with smartphones rather than laptops when they got into the internet in the first place.
So desktop is remaining flat, mobile is going up significantly, not just in usage, but in terms of advertising as well.
If your business is not optimised to deliver a great mobile experience, this should be your next most important priority for 2018 the latest.
Online advertising has won the battle
For the first time, internet ad spend has surpassed TV ad spend. Google advertising is growing 20% Y/Y, Facebook is up 62% Y/Y.
Of course, here too measuring the ROI on all these social activities is the biggest challenge.
Another problem is ad blocking that is becoming especially prevalent on mobile and in emerging markets.
UGC is the future
Effective user generated content can drive 6.9 higher engagement rates than brand generated content on Facebook.
I've tried and tested this with my own startup and it's true. It's because UGC is truly social and people start sharing it more because they either know the person or can easily relate. Especially, if this is images.
The same goes for working with influencers who can spread the word about your brand in a much more trustworthy way than your own words. Remember this here: "Advertising is saying that you're good, PR is getting someone else to say that you are good."
Voice is the future too
Voice search is growing significantly (20% of queries are made by voice), so is the usage of devices like Alexa's Echo. (I have one at home and it's addictively helpful).
Google's voice recognition has become as accurate as that of humans. Machine learning is becoming scary.
Real-time customer social support
Social media channels are taking over as the primary channel for consumers and customers to speak to brands and reach out for support.
I see it with my startup too - our customers prefer to chat to us on Facebook messenger and it's a much more natural experience for them and for us. We prefer it as well.
Streaming it all to create my own experience
Subscription based music streaming and listening has taken over downloads and physical music options.
Spotify alone accounts for 20% of global music industry revenue - in 2008 that number was 0%.
Netflix has done a similar thing with video owning 30% of home entertainment revenue now from 0% 10 years ago.
I think the below image summarises how we expect to be able to create our own experiences.
SaaS has changed: product is at the centre
As consumer behaviours have shifted, so have their needs for software. If you are a SaaS company, this is what you need to be designing, however, I think this works for pretty much any experience any company is trying to deliver to customers, even in the professional services industry.
Design is the centre of this. Consumers want quality product experiences.
The future is tech
If you are planning a career move, tech is the answer.
Growth is stunning.
The world is becoming a better place
I'll leave you off on a positive note that's outside of social and the internet, at least indirectly - more people are living a better life today.
The report is 355 pages long and there's a ton more detail that you can go into (e.g. the type of ads that work, types of images, e-commerce, gaming, India, China, healthcare etc.) so I definitely advise taking a look as this will help you plan the rest of your year and 2018.
What's one major finding from the report for you?