newmediadev2009



Animal PoliticoSocial Media Strategy




As the YouTube videos above illustrate, the importance of social media online cannot be understated. It has revolutionized the way people communicate, giving Internet users the opportunity to refer to the different points of view of their peers, rather than listening to the sole voice and advertising of the proprietor. Viral tools, leveraging on the voracity of the users within social networks, have also become a useful way for firms to spread news and popularity of their products. However, the effectiveness of such social media tools can only be amplified to a useful level if there are sufficient users, and a broad enough Internet base in the country. Thus, in examining the usefulness of pursuing an active social media strategy for Animal Politico, it is first important to examine the penetration rate of the Internet in Mexico. With the ability of mobile phones to receive data, be it for short messages or Internet data, these mini-computers have also slowly broken into the myriad of tools that people utilize to obtain online content. The potential of mobile phones that social media tools can leverage upon to spread its reach is extremely high, and thus examining the penetration rate of mobile phones in Mexico is also another pertinent issue in this topic.




Internet Penetration in Mexico

The Internet penetration rate in Mexico has been hovering around 25% to 30% of its population.[1] Internet World Stats reports that eMarketer found that Mexico has a 24.8% penetration rate as of September 2009, indicating that there are over 27.6 million Internet users in the country.[2] While the penetration rate stated above is low compared to many Asian and European countries, and despite trailing other Latin American countries such as Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina, in absolute terms, Mexico is only second to Brazil in terms of number of people online.[3] It appears that the upside in Mexico is that Internet penetration has been and will continue to grow rapidly in the years to come.[4]



Mobile Phone Penetration in Mexico
In terms of rapid growth, there appears to be a similar trend for mobile phone penetration in Mexico as that of its Internet penetration rate. Driven by a booming Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) sector, Mexico's mobile industry has been growing on average at 17% per annum, achieving more than 70% penetration by end 2008.[5] The Mexican telecom industry grew 21.5% in 2005, with growth in mobile phone communications accounting for 71% of this growth. It was reported that mobile phone users reached 47.5 million at the end of 2005, with mobile traffic growing 35% year-on-year.[6] In the 3rd quarter of 2008, the number of mobile phone users rose to 75 million, and it seems a near-certainty that the 75% penetration mark will be breached some time in 2009.[7]

With the implementation of number portability in mid-2007, together with the planned wireless spectrum auctions in 2009 to boost competition in the mobile market to facilitate the launch of next-generation mobile technology,[8] the indications are that growth in mobile phone usage will be strong and an increasing number of users will be able to access the Internet through the next-generation mobile technology from their mobile phones. This is important for sites such as Animal Politico, as a mobile-content website should be set up to cater to these users, making the site less awkward and more user-friendly.

In terms of the mobile phone user dem
mobileadoption_2006.jpg
Source: Marsical and Bonina (2006), Mobile Phone Usage in Mexico: Policy and Popular Dimensions, Telecom Cide.
ographics, young adults aged between 25 to 34 showed the highest mobile phone adoption rate in 2005.[9] This is not surprising given that mobile operators in Mexico have been targeting the younger generation in their product and publicity campaigns. The 50 years and older age group has the lowest penetration rate, typical of the pattern worldwide - this is possibly due to the typical resistance that older people often show to new technology.[10] The figure on the left illustrates the mobile phone adoption statistics in 2005 in Mexico.

With the great potential of mobile phone growth and the next-generation mobile telephony available in Mexico now, it appears prudent to examine the possibility of designing content to be delivered to the most popular mobile phone devices in the most convenient way possible to the user. Apart from the Apple iPhone and iPod (Mac OS X) platform, which has an extremely strong market base, boasting more than 30 million downloads as of February 2009,[11] Handango, the leading provider of smartphone content globally, reported that the strongest smartphone platform in terms of applications sold was the PocketPC (Windows Mobile OS) platform, followed by Research in Motion (RIM)'s Blackberry platform at the end of 2008.[12]

smartphone_sales.jpg
Source: Gartner (2009). Gartner Says Worldwide Smartphone Sales Reached Its Lowest Growth Rate With 3.7 Per Cent Increase in Fourth Quarter of 2008, Gartner Press Release.

Gartner, one of the world's leading information technology research and advisory companies released the worldwide smartphone sales figures for 2008, and found that Nokia had the largest smartphone market share in 2008 (43.7%), selling over 60 million units to end users. RIM had the second largest market share at 16.6%, while Apple was third with 8.2% market share.[13] When these sales numbers are arranged by smartphone operating system, Symbian had the largest market share at 52.4%, due in large part to its partnership with Nokia. Almost all entry-level smartphones utilize the Symbian software. RIM was second with 16.6% market share, while the Windows Mobile OS and the Mac OS X were third and fourth respectively with 11.8% and 8.2% market share.[14] These figures are seen in the table above.

In 2009, the Blackberry platform has been reported to become the dominant player in the market, with its applications accounting for 44% of all applications sold.[15] With these mobile phone statistics in mind, Animal Politico ought to focus on designing applications that will suit the PocketPC, Mac OS X, and Blackberry mobile phone platforms, to capitalize on the large potential target audience available. In terms of priority, the first priority should be to develop the mobile phone application for the Blackberry platform, as the primary target audience of Animal Politico - older Internet users, professionals, and politicians - are most likely users of this platform.




Strong adoption of social media in Mexico

uni_mccann.jpg
Source: Wilkins, K. (2009), Social Media in Mexico: 5 Things You Need to Know, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide
The adoption of social media in Mexico is strong, and is driven by young influencers. According to the ComScore State of Internet Report - Mexico, April 2009, Internet growth in Mexico is led by the youth, with 48% of all Internet users in the country between 15 and 24, compared with 35% in Latin America, and 26% worldwide. It thus comes as no surprise that early adopters and heavy utilizers of Internet are using social platforms at a rate higher than most countries in the world. The table on the right illustrates statistics from Universal McCann Wave 3 research, illustrating the types of social media activities undertaken by Mexican users of the Internet.[16]

Apart from the large majority of youths being online, it is also important to note that, unlike the online scene in other countries such as the US, online influencers or influential bloggers in Mexico have yet to mature to the point of fragmentation, and online affinity groups where bloggers only comment and blog on their niche area have yet to truly emerge. As pointed by in a blog by Ogilvy Public Relations, this does not mean that Mexicans are not interested in niche content, they look for such specific blog contents in US sites, or Spanish language blogs from other Latin American countries and Europe.[17] As such, these popular bloggers use their blogs for its original intention, as personal online journals covering a wide range of topics. As such, monitoring and commenting actively on any relevant content that is being blogged about Animal Politico would be more difficult than in fragmented online communities elsewhere.

The popularity of adopting social media strategies to forward an organization's agenda has even spread to the Mexican government, seen through the collaboration between Mexico's Tourism Board and Quepasa.com, one of the fastest-growing Latino social networks in the world. The tourism board aims to utilize Quepasa's platform to promote Mexican tourist destinations via online communities, indexing content related to specific destinations, facilitating user interaction through blogs and other viral tools.[18]





Enabling Animal Politico's Social Media Strategy
Get on Facebook, MySpace, twitter, and LinkedIn
Most research done on social networking tools consistently indicate that the most popular tools include Facebook, MySpace, and twitter. eBizMBA published an article in November 2009 on the top 20 Most Popular Social Networking Websites, and the top 4 social networking sites were Facebook, MySpace, twitter, and LinkedIn.[19] It is thus important that given the high volume of online traffic that visit these sites, any cogent social media strategy must leverage heavily on the popularity and dense visitorship of these sites. Fan and product pages on Facebook and MySpace should be created and updated with the latest updates on Animal Politico. Links to interesting and top stories should also be posted at these sites in a timely fashion, generating outbound links to the main Animal Politico website. A LinkedIn company profile page for Animal Politico should be created, allowing employees to link themselves to the firm, thereby generating a greater online presence for Animal Politico.

Compatibility with Delicious
Key social networking tools that Animal Politico should embrace are the online bookmarking services such as delicious. delicious has more than five million users, and when applied in a convenient and well designed fashion to the news stories published on Animal Politico, it will encourage its users to bookmark these pages, which will direct more unique visitors who are part of their network towards the web page. Another useful online service that Animal Politico can utilize would be AddThis, which is a free service that content generators can utilize to make it easier for visitors to share content on the latter's own social networking applications. However, it is important that in order for such a service to be compatible with Animal Politico's website, static URLs should be generated for each news story and post, such as those seen at BBC's news website. This will avoid broken links that may result in a poor user experience.

Engage the readers in a timely fashion
Sean Carton, a writer for ClickZ, highlights that in order to fully utilize and maximize the benefits of social media, the management of a brand must be prepared to let go of some control of the brand to allow for social interaction.[20] It is important that in utilizing social media tools, that a concerted and consistent effort is made by Animal Politico to engage in the conversations with readers, be it scouring the Internet for posts relating to Animal Politico and correcting any misinformation, responding to comments that are left on the website or on twitter. An active social media presence is needed to respond to both negative and positive commentary online in a timely fashion.

The picture below illustrates the Conversation Prism developed by Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas. Version 2.0 of the Prism was introduced in March 2009 (seen below), while the first version of this Prism debuted in August 2008. As the creators introduce it, the Prism provides a "visual representation of the true expansiveness of the Social Web and the conversations that define it".[21] It highlights the myriad of different social networking tools available on the Internet today, and the various categories and functions that these tools fall under.


ConversationPrism_v2_sm.jpg
The Conversation Prism Version 2.0 (Source: http://theconversationprism.com/)




Footnotes
[1] Wilkins, Kaitlyn, "Social Media in Mexico: 5 Things You Need to Know", Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, September 24, 2009.
[2] Internet World Stats, "Mexico and Central America Internet Usage", Internet World Stats, November 18, 2009.
[3] Wilkins, Kaitlyn, "Social Media in Mexico: 5 Things You Need to Know", Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, September 24, 2009.
[4] Ibid.
[5] BuddleComm, "Mexico - Mobile Market - Overview and Statistics", Paul Buddle Communication, March 23, 2009.
[6] Moskalyuk, Alex, "Cell phone penetration in Mexico reached 46% in 2005", ZDNet Research, March 14, 2006.
[7] Cellular-News, "75 Million Mark Passed, 75% Penetration Beckons", Cellular-News, January 14, 2009.
[8] BuddleComm, "Mexico - Mobile Market - Overview and Statistics", Paul Buddle Communication, March 23, 2009.
[9] Marsical, Judith, and Bonina, Carla, "Mobile Phone Usage in Mexico: Policy and Popular Dimensions", Telecom Cide, 2006.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Yardley, Greg, "'AppStore Secrets' Presentation", Pinch Media.
[12] Handango, "Handango Yardstick Year End Special Edition January - December 2008", Handango, 2009.
[13] Gartner, "Gartner Says Worldwide Smartphone Sales Reached Its Lowest Growth Rate With 3.7 Per Cent Increase in Fourth Quarter of 2008", Gartner Press Release, March 11, 2009.
[14] Ibid.
[15] Handango, "Handango Releases Yardstick Report - Blackberry Becomes Dominant Platform for First Time Ever", Handango Press Release, August 26, 2009.
[16]
Wilkins, Kaitlyn, "Social Media in Mexico: 5 Things You Need to Know", Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, September 24, 2009.

[17] Ibid.
[18] Breaking Travel News, "Quepasa and Mexico's Tourism Board Announce Social Media Marketing Initiative", Breaking Travel News, November 3, 2009.
[19] eBizMBA, "Top 20 Most Popular Social Networking Websites | December 2009", eBizMBA, December 1, 2009.
[20] Carton, Sean, "A Social Media Strategy Checklist", ClickZ, September 14, 2009.
[21] Solis, Brian, "The Conversation Prism v2.0", briansolis.com, March 30, 2009.





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