By: B&T

An annual social media study covering 65 countries has found that learning is a key driver of the use of social media for Australians.

Launched in 2006 by UM, Wave measures the scale and impact of social media across the globe, exploring the changes occurring in communication technologies. Over the years, Wave has shown the unprecedented growth in social media, with new platforms launched and reaching a critical mass with extraordinary speed across vast territories.

According to Wave 7, relationship, diversion, learning, progression, and recognition are the five key needs underpinning all consumer interaction. These five motivations continue to fuel the world’s prolific use of social media. Wave 7 shows no sign of internet user fatigue. The rapid growth of mobile is resulting in an always on mentality with consumers around the world being more connected, more often.

According to the survey, 56 per cent agree that social networking is an integral part of their social lives. Microblogging sites (such as Twitter and China’s Sina Weibo) are showing some of the highest growth, especially in many of the emerging markets, with China leading the way with 71 per cent of internet users active on a microblog.

While all countries still value social media most for its ability to foster human relationships, US consumers primarily view social media as a means of distraction and entertainment, 4 per cent higher than their international counterparts. However, learning is a critical motivation for social networking in Brazil, Mexico and Australia.

The professional social network has shown the fastest growth in the past year. Wave 7 reveals that this platform has become the key place to boost your professional profile, as well as influence opinion and earn respect.

Emerging markets such as Brazil and India are increasingly seeing social media as essential to improving social status, with 30 and 15 per cent respectively, agreeing it helps build career and financial opportunities.

Internet privacy continues to make front-page news. Almost 70 per cent of global consumers registered concern about the amount of personal data online. However, more than 43 per cent are supportive of brands using online behavioral data for marketing if it improves their online experience. This value-exchange has resulted in a 10 per cent spike in consumer membership in brand communities, proving that a greater understanding of consumer needs can lead to a more strategic approach to engagement.