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If you want to know where the modern Internet is headed, it’s always worthwhile to check out the annual Internet Trends Report from legendary analyst and venture capitalist Mary Meeker. The latest – a nearly 300-slide PowerPoint tour de force – comes with a number of interesting implications for the world of social media.
#1: Amazon is way bigger than you realized
While Amazon is not a conventional social media company, this Seattle tech giant is having a huge impact on how people use the Internet, especially when it comes to streaming video and buying products. One statistic that really stood out in the Internet Trends Report was that more people start their product searches on Amazon than on search engines now. Think about that for a moment. People have been so well trained by Jeff Bezos that they do not even think about checking out other websites – they head straight to Amazon.com for the best prices. If you’ve been wondering why people keep talking about the “Retail Apocalypse” – you can thank Amazon.com.
And it’s not just that Amazon is such a dominant e-commerce player – it’s that the company is also changing how we access the Internet in the first place. Mary Meeker specifically calls out Voice Technology as a huge new trend. In the old days, you searched the Internet with your fingers; in the era of the Amazon Echo, you search the Internet with your voice. As the report notes, there have now been 30 million Amazon Echo devices sold and speech recognition is now at 95% accuracy. It’s only a matter of time before voice transforms social media.
#2: If you’re ignoring mobile, you’re leaving money on the table
Another big trend is mobile. OK, that might sound sort of obvious, but Mary Meeker digs deep into the numbers and finds that average mobile usage continues to climb, even as shipments of smartphones continue to level out. In 2017, the average person spent 5.9 hours on their mobile device, up from 5.6 hours in 2016. That’s a sobering statistic, right? The average person is spending just as much time on their mobile phone as they are sleeping (assuming you’re getting about 6 hours of sleep a night)!
This has huge implications for social media. It helps to explain why Instagram is such a juggernaut – it’s a mobile-first social media platform. (Have you honestly ever tried to use Instagram on a desktop?) And it explains why text messaging is such a big thing, and why all social media platforms are moving toward video. What do people enjoy doing on mobile? That’s right, they enjoy watching videos. So, if you’re ignoring mobile, you’re leaving money on the table.
#3: Social media platforms have a real incentive to become a daily habit
One thing that’s great about Mary Meeker is that she takes a practical, business-oriented approach to the Internet. (Remember, she comes from the world of Wall Street and venture capital.) For example, she points out with great clarity that “daily usage” is the most important engagement metric for social media giants these days. That’s because the single best metric for predicting future revenue gains is Daily User Growth. In other words, social media needs to become a regular habit in order for companies like Facebook to make money. Any wonder why Facebook is constantly looking for ways to “hook you” on social media? Once you’re hooked, they can monetize you.
Of course, there’s a lot more packed into Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report. Some of it might be obvious – like who doesn’t know about the rise of the global Internet? However, even those findings can be rather subtle. For example, the reason why 3.6 billion people around the planet are hooked up to the Internet is because they have cheap Android phones and are connecting via Wi-Fi. That changes how companies need to develop content for the modern Internet – you can’t assume that people have super-powerful desktop computers hooked up to super-fast Internet lines.
If you are looking for what’s next in social media, it’s worth taking a look through the 2018 Internet Trends Report. The insights found within might just spark a great idea to drive the growth of your own business or brand.