Will social media kill television?

We’ll look back on 2009 as the year when social media became legitimate. There has been explosive growth in the social media landscape. YouTube, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and many other sites now command more eyeballs than television ever did. These spaces are personal and immediate, and they connect on an intimate level.

During the Iranian crisis, many of the first video and pictures came from Twitter, not from CNN news crews or BBC reporters, but from everyday citizens using their cell phones, SMS and their Twitter accounts. Similar reporting came from the recent China natural disaster. There were no news crews on-site, only everyday citizens. But, they had cell phones and could send messages and images.

Initially, Twitter was where you could read about someone’s latest (by the minute) escapades or their pets. Today, it’s where you can go when you want the latest news.

My first venture into Twitter space was almost embarrassing. I somehow ended up on a mid-20 person’s tweet about her plans for an upcoming romantic evening. First she tweeted about her date, then about her lateness in getting home from the office. Then she told everyone what she was going to wear, where she was going, blah, blah, blah. Those posts caused me to immediately put Twitter into the “young and worthless” category.

When the recession hit, I rediscovered Twitter on this link. For the first time, I found news about my industry that was not easily accessible. The information being posted came from insiders — my peers — and was immediate.

I discovered behind-the-scenes news and insider information that was not available from the traditional media. Best of all, much of the information appeared before the news media picked it up. I discovered that Twitter was providing me with an important insight into my workspace and industry. I saw tomorrow’s headlines today.

Twitter has been among the fastest growing social media sites. Between February and March of this year, it grew almost 77 percent. According to Nielsen, Twitter now has 7 million unique monthly visitors. At that rate, it will have 100 million visitors by this time next year.

Such social media Web sites represent the next generation of information delivery. Let’s look closer at these new competitors.

What is the most-viewed video Web site in the world? You probably answered YouTube. In March, YouTube claimed 100 million monthly U.S.-based viewers. YouTube is predicted to serve up 75 billion video streams to 375 million unique views this year.

Facebook has doubled its number of users in less than eight months and now has 200 million users. If Facebook were a country, it would be larger than Brazil. Viewership has skyrocketed both domestically and internationally. Over the last year, it grew 314 percent in Europe. In 12 months, Italian viewership of Facebook grew by a staggering 2721 percent. Other large-growth countries include Spain (999 percent), Belgium (518 percent) and Switzerland (499 percent).

In 2005, MySpace was sold to News Corp. for $580 million. Today, it’s worth between $2 billion and $15 billion. If only the broadcast industry could enjoy such increased valuation.

Much of what I learned came from a blog by Erik Qualman. He’s written a book, released this month, called, Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business. Qualman is global vice president of online marketing for EF Education, headquartered in Lucerne, Switzerland. His new book is causing more than a little stir in the media space, and you can view his blog.

Qualman doesn’t subscribe to cable or satellite. His sources for video are the Internet and his phone. Could he view your station’s content? Is your company’s product available on the Internet and YouTube?

Qualman has produced a mind-opening video, which summarizes some 37 astonishing social media statistics described in his book. I want you to view his video. The statistics shown in the video are listed below, some of which are boldfaced because they seemed especially important to me.

After watching the video, ask yourself how your television station, cable system, satellite facility, or production house connects to these viewers. If your station isn’t addressing younger viewers’ needs via these new paths, why not? It’s your future we’re talking about.

I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts about this blog post.

37 key social networking statistics, from the Socialnomics video

1. By 2010 Gen Y will outnumber Baby Boomers. 96 percent of them have joined a social network.

2. Social Media has overtaken porn as the No. 1 activity on the Web.

3. One out of eight couples married in the United States last year met via social media.

4. Years it took to reach 50 million users: Radio (38 years), TV (13 years), Internet (4 years), iPod (3 years). Facebook added 100 million users in less than 9 months. iPhone applications hit 1 billion in 9 months.

5. If Facebook were a country it would be the world’s fourth largest between the United States and Indonesia.

6. Yet, some sources say China’s QZone is larger with over 300 million using their services (Facebook’s ban in China plays into this).

7. comScore indicates that Russia has the most engaged social media audience with visitors spending 6.6 hours and viewing 1307 pages per visitor per month – Vkontakte.ru is the No. 1 social network.

8. A 2009 U.S. Department of Education study revealed that on average, online students outperformed those receiving face-to-face instruction.

9. One in six higher education students are enrolled in online curriculum.

10. The percent of companies using LinkedIn as a primary tool to find employees is 80 percent.

11. The fastest growing segment on Facebook is 55-65 year-old females.

12. Ashton Kutcher and Ellen DeGeneres have more Twitter followers than the entire populations of Ireland, Norway and Panama.

13. 80 percent of Twitter usage is on mobile devices. People update anywhere, anytime. Imagine what that means for bad customer experiences.

14. Generation Y and Z consider e-mail passé. In 2009 Boston College stopped distributing e-mail addresses to incoming freshmen.

15. What happens in Vegas stays on YouTube, Flickr, Twitter and Facebook.

16. The No. 2 largest search engine in the world is YouTube.

17. Wikipedia has over 13 million articles. Some studies show it’s more accurate than Encyclopedia Britannica. 78 percent of these articles are non-English.

18. There are over 200,000,000 blogs.

19. 54 percent = Number of bloggers who post content or tweet daily.

20. Because of the speed in which social media enables communication, word of mouth now becomes world of mouth.

21. If you were paid a $1 for every time an article was posted on Wikipedia, you would earn $156.23 per hour.

22. Facebook USERS translated the site from English to Spanish via a Wiki in less than four weeks and cost Facebook $0.

23. 25 percent of search results for the world’s top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content.

24. 34 percent of bloggers post opinions about products and brands.

25. People care more about how their social graph ranks products and services than how Google ranks them.

26. 78 percent of consumers trust peer recommendations.

27. Only 14 percent trust advertisements.

28. Only 18 percent of traditional TV campaigns generate a positive ROI.

29. 90 percent of people that can TiVo ads do.

30. Hulu has grown from 63 million total streams in April 2008 to 373 million in April 2009.

31. 25 percent percent of Americans in the past month said they watched a short video on their phone.

32. According to Jeff Bezos, 35 percent of book sales on Amazon are for the Kindle when available.

33. 24 of the 25 largest newspapers are experiencing record declines in circulation because we no longer search for the news; the news finds us.

34. In the near future we will no longer search for products and services; they will find us via social media.

35. More than 1.5 million pieces of content (Web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photos, etc.) are shared on Facebook daily.

36. Successful companies in social media act more like Dale Carnegie and less like David Ogilvy — listening first, selling second.

37. Successful companies in social media act more like party planners, aggregators and content providers than traditional advertisers.