The world’s biggest and longest running annual social media tracker survey – Wave  – published by ad agency Universal McCann is just out, 37,600 internet users in 54 countries.

The 2010 Wave 5 survey report is embedded below – and can be downloaded for free here.  The survey does not address social commerce specifically – but our top takeout is that Facebook Groups (newly revamped) + Facebook e-commerce = Big Opportunity for brands, agencies and solution providers. Brands themselves – as opposed to people – may not be able to create groups yet and add them to their pages, but with groups in the Open Graph API, we think groups will be a big part of future brand activity on Facebook).

Why?  The survey points to the rise and rise of social networking as a truly global phenomenon – with people ranking social networking sites as the best tool for nearly all social activities (see graph below). The proportion of people connecting to brands via social networks has jumped 20% in the last year – whilst people visiting brand websites has dropped by 10% over the last two years.  Factor in that just under 50% of Net users have joined a brand community – then the  opportunity for managing and monetizing these communities in Facebook is significant.

But back to the stats – here are the numbers we found interesting (base: active Net users (16-54 – representative) – global:

  • 61.4% of active Net users manage a profile on at least one social network
  • On average people connect with 52 people on social networks
  • Over 30% of people connect to the Net via a mobile device
  • Over the last two years, the proportion of Net users visiting brand sites has dropped 10% (down to 74%)
  • Over the last year, the proportion of Net users connecting with a brand in social networks has increased 20% (to 30%)
  • Social networks are ranked as the #1 social media tool for all social activities apart from sharing knowledge and seeking other peoples opinions
  • Just under 50% of people have joined an online brand community
  • After joining a brand community;
    • 72% of people feel more positively about the brand
    • 71% are more likely to buy the brand
    • 68% feel more loyal to the brand
    • 63% recommend others to join

How should brands develop and deliver a social media experience?  UM proposed a four-point plan [that we’re not sure we completely buy into – it suggests social is a distinct channel – we prefer a strategy-first approach – building a social layer onto your marketing / e-commerce strategy)]

  • Understand the social landscape of the category
  • Identify where the consumer fits in this landscape
  • Identify the social needs of the consumer in the category
  • Map them to social media platforms that can best deliver them

Social Media Wave 5 – OCT2010 (Universal McCann)