The current social media scene

Facebook on top, Twitter the short service champ and Google+ catching up. This seems the current status of the social networking world.

We give here some interesting findings of recent studies on social media by GlobalWebIndex, which claims to track about 90% of the global internet population.

The big three social networking giants

The research agency says, Facebook remains the top social platform and Google+ has overtaken Twitter significantly. Not only that, Google’s own YouTube comes third!

Local platforms have given way to these behemoths and have either been growing slowly or are in the decline.

See the user sizes of the biggies:

  • Facebook: total users over a billion; active users 693 million. Over half the internet population in the world is active on Facebook on a monthly basis!
  • Google+: active users 343 million
  • YouTube: active users 300 million
  • Twitter: active users 288 million

Rising impact of Google+

Google+ is growing in its impact among these top three social networking sites.
The researcher says that “Google+ is a growing success and is here to stay. The global internet will increasingly be defined by Facebook, Google and Twitter, representing a tremendous opportunity for marketers to build brands on a truly global scale”.

The research agency also feels that brands will adopt Google+ more and more as Google+ is fully integrated into all Google services, G+ shows up on search results, and popularity of Android – a Google platform – on mobile devices.

What it means? While today companies weave their social media strategies around Facebook and Twitter, they must include Google+ too. [Of course, we feel that any social media strategy should include blogging, emails, forums, free subscriptions, collaborative platforms and so on. After a detailed analysis, they need to choose how many of these platforms they should concentrate on.]

But Twitter is the fastest growing of them all

A survey by the same agency finds that Twitter is the fastest among them all. Moreover, the activity on Twitter has been rising even faster than the rise in the number of new accounts. ‘An incredible 21% of the global internet population now use Twitter actively on a monthly basis,” is what GlobalWebIndex says.

What people do on social media?

These activities have been found to be most popular on major platforms:

  • sharing photos
  • posting about one’s daily activities
  • commenting on a friend’s post

Other popular activities include messaging on one-to-one basis, commenting on friends’ photos / videos, ‘like’ing others’ posts, and sharing links to blogs.

All ITB social media discussions can be found here.

What Google’s gonna do to SEO in 2013?

Except for what Google sometimes speaks about its intentions, nobody has an idea about the changes it intends to bring to web search. For example, Google has reported today that it will carry out a new algorithm tweak later in the day that will affect about 1.2 percent of English queries. Such tweaks have been happening regularly after the major Panda change in 2012 that affected numerous websites.

Some likely major intentions of Google and actions it would take to implement them are:

  • To make search more relevant. They have been trying it hard and some small search engines are giving them competition too in niche search. But whatever actions they take results in some complication that penalizes genuine websites too. So, they will try to make search more and more relevant, but with caution. Takeaway for bloggers: Do not indulge in black-hat SEO; remain your self; write good stuff.
  • To integrate social media activities. Social media activities that link with a web resource will give it more authority. Possibly Google will promote its own social media platforms, and some will cry foul, but that is going to happen. Takeaway for bloggers: Be active on social networks; have cross-links of your blog with your Facebook, Twitter and other such accounts.
  • To capture genuine engagement. Google will try to capture engagement of visitors on the site. Reading, commenting, going to links etc are likely to be captured and their correlation found with site visits. We don’t know how much of it will succeed but it will be one big thing Google will like to achieve. Takeaway for bloggers: Have interesting, engaging content. If your blog is for selling a service or product or promoting your book, showcase the thing in such a way that it engages readers. Google says, ‘Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.’
  • To include search through new gadgets and tools. Mobile phones have become so important as tools of communication that mobile search is going to take centre-stage of search engines’ working. Not only that, search through / on widgets and apps is going to become more and more important, and Google is expected to take lead in this area too. Takeaway for bloggers: Be alert about new facilities made available on your blogging platform; have a mobile version of your blog; use new tools to link with your blogs and provide services through such tools [e.g. apps] if you can.

How colorful should my blog be? When it turns too gaudy?

We get many blog review requests everyday. In a recent one, the blogger asked us two specific questions and one of them was - 'Is my blog too gaudy and colorful?'

We have dealt with display aspects of blogging in a good number of posts, but have not answered the specific question of when a blog turns too gaudy. 

Overall display of a blog, including colors, depends on personal preferences. However, we often do not realize that our own choices of color, font size etc may not be liked by many visitors especially if we use elements that do not suit our type of blog. For example, while a kid blog may look very good if it has doodles, splashes of primary colors, balloons hanging from all corners, a duck floating over the title and weirdly twisted text. But these elements will look totally out of place on a blog on scientific aspects of skin diseases. This could be an extreme example, but doesn't it show that we should not ignore this aspect on the blog?

Coming specifically to 'when does a blog look gaudy', we'd like bloggers to look at these aspects:
  • prominent colors and their arrangements, background patterns and colors
  • title and bottom areas
  • widget types and coloration
  • font type,coloring and size
  • images used in posts
  • post headings and footers
  • suitability of overall display for the blog's theme, age and sex of visitors, target audience's likes and dislikes. This includes cultural icons, taboos, etc.

We advise that - if your blog is not too experimental and the theme not too extrovert - you should err on the right side: be sober than flamboyant. Use subdued colors rather than bright red, pink, green, yellow and blue. Don't use photos with colors bleeding out of them. Don't use colors just to show off your attitude.

Look at the screen shot of a blog above. This blog claims to be the most boring blog in the world. It is extremely elemental and yet very popular; one of its posts got 392 comments! Can you call such a popular blog 'boring'?

indian-top-blog-colorful Now look at the next screen shot of a blog. Its homepage is full of pictures, which is fine, but the title is lost in the collage in the title area. [We have blurred the screen shot but not the title area. Can you read the title?]

The third screen shot is of a site with too many thumbnails on the homepage and each one is supposed to represent a section, but we found the photos too general to serve the purpose. Also notice that the Facebook 'likes' widget has become one among these photos. 

Got the point? Let's sum it up:
  • Don't let display mar navigation.
  • Keep the display simple and sober. Add color and vibrancy but just enough.
  • Let the blog's overall look suit its subject and visitors' preferences.
We have blurred screen shots of blogs to hide their identity. 

You can see our earlier tips on blog design aspects here. You can also see some other tips on photo display on blogs here.