Last month, UM launched the latest edition of its ground-breaking global research series, Wave, at a kick-off event in central London.

Now in its eighth year, Wave is the longest-running and largest social media tracker in the world, and this year’s Wave 8 – The Language of Content surveyed 50,000 Active Internet Users across 65 countries.

Wave 8 focuses on the phenomenon of ‘Content’; what it is, why we share it, and subsequently how brands can exploit that information to create more meaningful and effective social campaigns.

Glen Parker, Wave Research Lead, UM, shared the findings with hundreds of clients and industry experts at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in central London. He was joined by Creative Director and UM Studios Lead Scott Holmes, and Eric Weaver, Chief Social Officer, IPG Mediabrands G14. Together, they told a story that combined the insights that Wave generated, examples of creative executions derived from those insights, and the importance of measuring the resulting campaigns in order to put a true value on social content.

According to Parker, Wave 8 reveals content to be a “new social language,” which consumers use to accrue social currency and respect. It also points to a generation of people who increasingly use social media to further their own ambitions; a trend that is becoming all the more prominent as the smartphone comes to the fore, now with the highest penetration of any device in the world.

Other key insights from the research are as follows:

  • The way to “crack” content is to customize it for your audience. Motivations for sharing vary greatly across different categories, markets and demographics – so it’s time for brands to move away from simply creating something “fun” or “entertaining.”
  • There is a significant difference between the content consumers value, the kind of content that gets many views on YouTube and the kind of content they will share. Only 11% consider “something that expresses their point of view” as valuable content but twice as many say they would share that same content with others.
  • Consumers are emotionally invested in content. When we share something we are saying something about ourselves so the content becomes linked with our online reputation. This strong emotional connection has a knock-on effect for brands.

Look out for the full published study early 2015. In the meantime, please contact us at wave@umww.com for more information.