June 1, 2018Published by: Leah Domenet

Mary Meeker report 2018: is social media even a part of the internet?

It's that time of year again, when the much-anticipated Mary Meeker annual Internet Trends report is released by the famed analyst of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The report is typically used to help frame the digital dialogue for the year ahead. It's a whopping 294-page publication, and we have worked through it so you don't have to.

This year, for the first time we can remember, social media related content is lacking in the report, with little to no mention of some of the key trends shaping the world's social media landscape. In fact, social media is referenced predominantly only in the context of product discovery - or in other words, for shopping.

The biggest and noisiest social platform (especially of late), Facebook, is only mentioned 10 times in the report. Instagram, the innovative image-sharing app is only mentioned twice. The likes of Snapchat and Twitter were only each mentioned once. The Tencent-owned platforms were the most popular social media topic in the new Chinese focused section of the report.

So was this the year that Meeker lost her interest or even her grasp on perhaps the biggest global digital communication platform - social media? If you work in comms and social media is as important to you as it is to us, here are the key take-aways from Meeker’s report:

  • Almost half of the world use the internet - 49% of the world’s population are expected to be internet users in 2018, doubling in the last 8 years. The growth in internet usage, however, has slowed.
  • Messaging apps continue to see strong growth - three of the world’s biggest messaging apps: WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat each now have more than 1 billion monthly active users. Twitter’s growth lags behind, slowing significantly.
  • Using social media for product discovery - social media, as a source of site traffic, is steadily increasing, pointing to a maturing landscape and user base on social media for brand marketing.
  • Big opportunities in mobile usage versus mobile advertising - Meeker points to an opportunity for mobile and social media advertising to grow to fill consumer demand. There is a $7bn gap in opportunity for brands to utilise.
  • Daily usage and social media usage - platforms like Facebook have seen an increase in revenue which can be attributed with daily user growth, showing the opportunity to profit on a now regular habit. On average, we spend 135 minutes a day on social media and most messages are sent on WhatsApp.
  • Popularity of video content - we’re spending around 30 minutes each day watching videos on mobile devices. Video content is particularly popular in the Chinese market, where online video content is overtaking TV content.
  • Users aren’t satisfied with social media platforms - Facebook and Instagram came bottom of the customer satisfaction survey, pointing to the impact of the recent negative series of events from fake news to privacy. Meeker highlighted Facebook’s consumer privacy tools and how they have improved over 10 years.

Notable key trends the report was missing:

  • The evolution of ephemeral content - this has been key in the social media narrative throughout the past year. The Story has been one of THE key shaping factors in how we use mobile and internet communications services. Even in terms of product discovery which is heavily emphasised in the report. Yet the impact and usage of the biggest trend in social media at the moment was not mentioned.
  • Social media’s role on data gathering that has shaped the current landscape - while aspects of abuse of privacy on Facebook and GDPR were briefing mentioned in Meeker’s report, it failed to materialise as an overall key takeaway. It did reveal that 64% had taken the action of deleting apps as a result of privacy concerns.

While we know the importance and impact of social media shows no signs of slowing down, we’ll be waiting in anticipation for next year’s report to see if Mary takes a much closer look, and to see what she has to say about what is to come.

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