Social networks are further on the rise as more and more consumers worldwide are using these networks in their everyday lives. Already, social networks reach nearly one in four around the world. Since last year, social networks have risen from 1.4 billion to 1.7billion users, showing the tremendous annual growth and the overall power that social networks have. Latest forecasts from eMarketer show that by 2017, social networks will have a global audience of 2.55billion users, demonstrating the rapid expansion of social networks over the upcoming years (eMarketer).
Drivers of Growth
Unsurprisingly, emerging markets are driving this rapid growth in social media reach. Asia-Pacific will have the largest social network audience worldwide through 2017 and the Middle East and Africa will have the second largest audience. However, there are some countries within these regions where social network audiences are predicted to grow fastest. These are: India, Indonesia, Mexico, China and Brazil. For marketers and tourism organizations, there are huge potentials in reaching consumers in these markets through social networks.
Largest social network audiences
Asia Pacific: Asia Pacific has the largest audience from all regions with 777 million social network users this year. Over the next years, this figure is predicted to further grow to 1,231 million users in the region. Both China and India will be the countries that will drive this growth the most.
Americas: Latin America and North America will also contribute to the large growth. Especially Brazil will drive growth whereas the US social network users are just growing slightly each year.
Middle East and Africa: This is another region where tech savvy consumers are increasing the social network usage. From this year until 2017, the audience will almost double in numbers, which is incredible.
Europe: Europe is another region that already has a high penetration in terms of social network usage but will still experience growth over the next years, especially in Central and Eastern Europe.
Social network penetration
There has been a shift from developed markets dominating the social networking landscape towards emerging markets taking over. This is mainly due to the large populations in these markets, leading to bigger social network audiences. However, more advanced markets such as Central, Western and Eastern Europe as well as North America will have a much higher penetration rates in terms of social networks than the fast growing emerging markets. In 2012, the global social network penetration was around 20% of the overall population. This year, it is predicted to grow by 4% and by 2017 the penetration will have reached around 34%.
The potentials for social networks are big in tourism! Businesses really need to make sure that their social media strategies are in place. Responding to the many trends happening in terms of new social networks arising and changes in the social networking behaviour is crucial. Today, it is all about content and making consumers at the center of everything, letting them tell and share their stories. Building up communities and advocates and engaging with these are at the core of many strategies.
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