FWM Digital Bytes

Welcome to FWM Digital Bytes, where we discuss all the biggest digital marketing and digital media news doing the rounds. This week, we look at Microsoft’s new social network, the browser battle between Chrome and Internet Explorer and the impact of user reviews and recommendations on consumers’ decision-making…

Microsoft goes so.cl

Microsoft has become the latest big player to join the social media arena by launching their new network So.cl (pronounced ‘Social’). Promising “a great place to meet new people, chat and have fun”, so.cl is something of a scrapbook of other social networks’ most popular ideas. Featuring Google+-esque video conferences and the ability to create posts comprised of various external web content (reminiscent of Pinterest), along with the usual comment, picture and video sharing functionality, it boasts just one primary new development – the ability to share your web search. (Even this, though, is an adaptation of an idea introduced to Bing earlier in the year.) There’s certainly nothing unique to So.cl then, but does it function well? In a comprehensive post on Marketing Land, Danny Sullivan has found plenty of faults, even with simple functionality like signing up and sharing links. But in a message to Sullivan, one of so.cl’s developers, Lili Cheng, explained that the network is still very much a testing environment for Microsoft to try out new ideas on. “We are using socl to experiment with the search + social networking experience from Microsoft Research,” she wrote. “You will see other experiments in Socl over time.”

The Battle of the Browsers

Google Chrome this week overtook Internet Explorer as the world’s most popular web browser, according to data from StatCounter. Exactly 31.88% of worldwide web browsing is undertaken on Google’s service, a figure which just pips the 31.47% that’s taking place on IE. It’s a massive shift in fortunes for the two browsers compared to the same time last year, when Internet Explorer had a market share of over 40% and Chrome was lagging far behind with just under 20%. StatCounter’s numbers are based on page-view data taken from three million websites, but as Mashable points out, other data reveals that IE is still leading the way. Net Applications base their figures on unique visitors and they show that the Microsoft browser continues to dominate the market with a share of 54%. Firefox is second with 20%, while Chrome is third with 19%.

Digital champions?

“More than a club” is Barcelona’s slogan and that’s exactly what the Spanish giants are seeking to become through their use of digital media. One of the world’s most digitally progressive clubs, Barca are using social media sites, their own website, and mobile apps to extend their brand beyond Spain, into Europe at large and out across the world. “We have been looking at ways of expanding, and generating revenue,” said Pasi Lankinen, Barcelona’s business intelligence manager, at a Sport Buisness Group seminar entitled Sport and New Media. “We have expanded fan numbers in our country and in Europe. Now we are looking at gaining a global, profitable, fanbase.” Lankinen added that the rise of smartphone technology has opened up new frontiers for sports clubs, making them more accessible to a massive range of fans “Fans [can] interact on multiple devices, with access anywhere, any time. There is now the possibility of more variety of content, aided by the explosion of mobile.” Barcelona currently have a Facebook page, Twitter feed, YouTube channel and a family of seven apps available. More from Lankinen’s seminar can be seen on the BBC.

User reviews influence purchases

User reviews and friend recommendations are among the most significant factors in helping consumers decide whether to buy a product, new research has sugested. A survey conducted by Reevoo found that 48% of people cited user reviews and 52% cited friend recommendations as key influencers, while traditional sales-boosting methods – such as sales assistants and adverting – lagged far behind. “Our research reveals an increasing sophistication in consumers’ use of multi-channel and social shopping tools,” said Reevoo founder Richard Anson. “As well as the tools and technologies becoming more innovative, people’s browsing and buying behaviour is also changing. Whereas when social commerce was in its infancy people were happy to take reviews at face value, now consumers are becoming more discerning about who they’ll trust and which information sources they find most valuable for them.” Elsewhere in the report, mobile technology was cited as a vital tool in aiding both research and final purchase. The full survey can be seen here…

The Big Apple

Ever wanted a handy guide explaining exactly how much Apple is worth and how wide reaching their products are? Well, lucky you, because that’s exactly Sortable have created with this handy infographic. It shows that Apple has made $142 billion over the last 12 months, a figure that is roughly equivalent to the GDP of New Zealand. Other impressive facts and figures include…

– 75% of Apple’s massive wealth comes from sales of iPhones and iPads and 30% of US smartphone users have an iPhone.

– 365 million iOS devices have been sold since the platform launched and sales of the iPad have risen by 150% since last year.

– There are 600,000 apps on the App Store and between them they’ve been downloaded over 25 billion times. 895 new apps are added a day and just under half are free.