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Social Networking - UK - May 2015

“Privacy has become one of central debates surrounding social/media networks as users increasingly question the ways in which their data is being obtained and used. There is a need for the major networks to increase their transparency regarding their use of data, and ensure that opt-out options are clear and accessible. Otherwise networks will be open to regulatory penalties and may see more data-conscious consumers shift towards other options.”
– Rebecca McGrath, Research Analyst

This report looks at the following areas:

  • Networks firmly enter the world of e-commerce
  • People grow more wary regarding online privacy
  • The need to tackle abuse

Social and media networks continue to evolve, with many of the major players broadening the scope of their services, resulting in a blurring of the distinction between the two types of network. Video has become more central to social networks, while many networks have entered the world of direct e-commerce.

This report aims to examine which networks consumers’ use, how frequently they use them and the types of activities they carry out. It also looks at consumer attitudes towards social and media networks, particularly in regards to issues of privacy, advertising and online abuse.

Mintel defines social networks in this report as any networks which have person-to-person interaction at the heart of their offering. The four main networks Mintel includes under this heading in the UK are Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook. These networks are the focus of all analysis in the consumer-focused sections of this report. Messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and Snapchat are not included within social networks.

Between 2014 and 2015 the penetration of the major players in the social and media networks market has remained relatively stable. However, generally media networks have experienced better growth in terms of their reach of UK users than the core social networks. Rather than transitioning from one network to another, many, and in particular younger users, are choosing to broaden the scope and number of the networks they are visiting. Ensuring user engagement therefore remains a high priority for many established networks.

There continues to be a convergence between social and media networks, particularly as video becomes a more central component of social networks. The entrance of many networks into the world of e-commerce will further integrate networks into the lives of consumers, while offering significant possibilities for brands. Concerns over privacy and data continue to surround the market, with the rise of messaging apps, Snapchat and Whisper, indicating a real desire for the ephemeral and anonymous services.


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Table of contents

  1. Introduction

      • Definitions
        • Social networks
          • Media networks
            • Abbreviations
            • Executive Summary

                • Market drivers
                  • Networks adapt to tech advancements
                    • Video blurs the distinction between social and media
                      • Data takes centre stage as EU accuses Facebook of illegally tracking visitors
                        • Celebrity leak further highlights privacy issues
                          • Twitter announces plans to sell more tweets
                            • Who’s innovating?
                              • Facebook explores e-commerce
                                • Twitter launches abuse filter
                                  • Facebook challenges LinkedIn
                                    • YouTube tailors service for kids
                                      • The consumer
                                        • Over three quarters use a social network
                                          • Figure 1: Usage of social and media networks, February 2015
                                        • Facebook has most frequent visitors but its falling
                                          • Figure 2: Frequency of usage of social and media networks, February 2015
                                        • Mobile devices key for social/media networks
                                          • Figure 3: Devices used to access social and media networks, February 2015
                                        • Social networks mainly used to keep in touch while media networks entertain
                                          • Figure 4: Activities conducted on social and media networks, February 2015
                                        • Over a third of users are fine with discrete adverts
                                          • Figure 5: Attitudes towards advertising, February 2015
                                        • Over a fifth do not close accounts regardless of use
                                          • Figure 6: Social and media networks behaviour, February 2015
                                        • Nearly three quarters would be put off network by abuse
                                          • Figure 7: Attitudes towards social and media networks, February 2015
                                        • What we think
                                        • Trend Application

                                            • Trend: Life Hacking
                                              • Trend: Make it Mine
                                                • Trend: Prove It
                                                • Issues and Insights

                                                    • Networks firmly enter the world of e-commerce
                                                      • The facts
                                                        • The implications
                                                          • People grow more wary regarding online privacy
                                                            • The facts
                                                              • The implications
                                                                • The need to tackle abuse
                                                                  • The facts
                                                                    • The implications
                                                                    • Market Drivers

                                                                      • Key points
                                                                        • Three in four people now own a smartphone
                                                                          • Figure 8: Personal ownership of consumer technology products, June and November 2014
                                                                        • Wearable tech requires new developments
                                                                          • Video blurs the line between social and media networks
                                                                            • Social/Media network celebrities become mainstream
                                                                              • Data takes centre stage as EU accuses Facebook of illegally tracking visitors
                                                                                • Twitter announces plans to sell more tweets
                                                                                  • Celebrity leak further highlights privacy issues
                                                                                  • Who’s Innovating?

                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                      • Meerkat and Periscope fight it out over live-streaming
                                                                                        • Facebook explores e-commerce
                                                                                          • Twitter launches abuse filter
                                                                                            • YouTube tailors product for kids
                                                                                              • YouTube introduces paid-for products
                                                                                                • Facebook challenges LinkedIn
                                                                                                • Companies and Products

                                                                                                    • Facebook Inc.
                                                                                                      • Background
                                                                                                        • Users
                                                                                                          • Figure 9: Facebook global monthly active users, daily active users and mobile users, 2010-14
                                                                                                        • Financials
                                                                                                          • Figure 10: Key financial data for Facebook worldwide, 2011-14
                                                                                                        • Recent activity
                                                                                                          • In July 2014 Facebook acquired the virtual reality start-up Oculus VR for $2 billion. Regarding the purpose of the acquisition Zuckerberg said, “By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.”
                                                                                                            • Google+
                                                                                                              • Background
                                                                                                                • Financials
                                                                                                                  • Figure 11: Key financial data for Google Inc, 2011-14
                                                                                                                • Recent activity
                                                                                                                  • LinkedIn
                                                                                                                    • Background
                                                                                                                      • Members
                                                                                                                        • Figure 12: Number of members for LinkedIn Corp, 2011-14
                                                                                                                      • Financials
                                                                                                                        • Figure 13: Key financial data for LinkedIn Corp, 2011-14
                                                                                                                      • Recent activity
                                                                                                                        • Twitter
                                                                                                                          • Background
                                                                                                                            • Users
                                                                                                                              • Figure 14: Monthly active Twitter users, 2012-14
                                                                                                                            • Financials
                                                                                                                              • Figure 15: Key financial data for Twitter Inc, 2012-14
                                                                                                                            • Recent activity
                                                                                                                              • Instagram
                                                                                                                                • Background
                                                                                                                                  • Pinterest
                                                                                                                                    • Background
                                                                                                                                      • Recent activity
                                                                                                                                        • Tumblr
                                                                                                                                          • Background
                                                                                                                                            • Recent activity
                                                                                                                                              • YouTube
                                                                                                                                                • Background
                                                                                                                                                  • Recent activity
                                                                                                                                                  • The Consumer – Social and Media Networks Used

                                                                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                                                                      • Over three quarters use a social network
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 16: Usage of social and media networks, February 2015
                                                                                                                                                      • Younger people are active on many networks
                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 17: Repertoire of social and media networks used, February 2015
                                                                                                                                                      • YouTube continues to increase UK penetration
                                                                                                                                                        • Network preferences vary between genders
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 18: Usage of social and media networks, by gender, February 2015
                                                                                                                                                      • The Consumer – Frequency of Usage

                                                                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                                                                          • Facebook has most frequent visitors…
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 19: Frequency of visits to social and media networks, February 2015
                                                                                                                                                          • …Although Facebook and Twitter users are visiting less
                                                                                                                                                          • The Consumer – Devices

                                                                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                                                                              • Mobile devices central for social/media networks
                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 20: Devices used to access social and media networks, February 2015
                                                                                                                                                            • The Consumer – Activities

                                                                                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                • Social networks mainly used to keep in touch while media networks entertain
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 21: Activities conducted on social and media networks, February 2015
                                                                                                                                                                • Younger people less likely to use social networks to keep in touch
                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 22: Activities conduced on social networks, by age, February 2015
                                                                                                                                                              • The Consumer – Attitudes towards Advertising

                                                                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                  • Over a third of users are fine with discrete adverts
                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 23: Attitudes towards advertising, February 2015
                                                                                                                                                                  • Few willing to pay to avoid adverts
                                                                                                                                                                    • Little comfort with targeting adverts via browsing history
                                                                                                                                                                    • The Consumer – Networks Behaviour

                                                                                                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                        • Over a fifth do not close accounts regardless of use
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 24: Social and media networks behaviour, February 2015
                                                                                                                                                                        • Younger people more likely to have experienced abuse on networks
                                                                                                                                                                          • Few have yet to use a network ‘buy button’
                                                                                                                                                                          • The Consumer – Attitudes towards Social/Media Networks

                                                                                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                              • Most would be put off using a network if they received abuse
                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 25: Attitudes towards social and media networks, February 2015
                                                                                                                                                                              • Concern over work colleagues seeing social content
                                                                                                                                                                                • Storing data is a concern for many
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Celebrity photo leak makes users more reserved

                                                                                                                                                                                  Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                                                                  • Facebook, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Google UK
                                                                                                                                                                                  • LinkedIn
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Research in Motion Uk Ltd.
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Twitter, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Yahoo! UK & Ireland

                                                                                                                                                                                  Social Networking - UK - May 2015

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