May 2013






Can have very different needs, depending on background, location, and even political climate. This month, we profile a scheduler tool precisely tailored to a very specific audience – design fans on the go in New York – and we consider how the unique circumstances of large Chinese audience groups shape the nation’s social networks. We also explore how (and when) to use Google Hangouts to engage audiences both small and large.


Cover photo: Work from Souda Studios, showcased during NYCxDESIGN this month
Social Stats
Social Networking Stats

  What’s Trending

A Bigger, Brighter Flickr
“The world is going mobile, and in December we took the first big step to send Flickr wherever you go with a new and beloved iPhone app. Our brand new Android app pushes the boundaries on beauty even further. We designed it with your needs in mind: how you interact, how you share, and how you view photos when you’re on the go.”
Source: Flickr Blog

A number of social media sites have launched major redesigns recently – first Facebook, then Google+, and now Flickr. What’s notable is that all these redesigns take a “mobile first” approach. That’s because such a high proportion of social media engagement occurs on a mobile device. Brand marketers should embrace this approach in content strategy as well and consider the predominant contexts for audiences using their content – not just the standard imagined desktop browser session.

Global Trend

International Social Networks Closing In On Facebook
“While global companies willing to look beyond Facebook and Twitter have a chance to reach billions of social media users, gaining a foothold isn’t necessarily easy. English may be the international language of business, but it’s hardly the language of choice for online commerce and socializing.”
Source: Business Insider

This is just another reminder that social media strategies are not inherently global. Marketers need to take this a step beyond the general language barriers, though; it’s a matter of the structure and channel as well as the content. Organizations need real country insights to form local campaigns and engagement strategies. Emerging economic powerhouses such as China and Russia prefer homegrown networks to Facebook or Twitter. Emerging markets also have different attitudes towards social media. Users in developing countries with growing middle class cultures, for example, are much more likely to engage with brands.

Users: 1,110,000,000
Monthly U.S. Visitors: 164,000,000
Monthly Global Visitors: 880,000,000

Users: 554,700,000
Monthly U.S. Visitors: 93,800,000
Monthly Global Visitors: 200,000,000

Users: 200,000,000
Monthly U.S. Visitors: 46,400,000
Monthly Global Visitors: 133,400,000

Users: 100,000,000
Monthly U.S. Visitors: 25,200,000

Blogs: 98,700,000
Monthly U.S. Visitors: 46,400,000
Monthly Global Visitors: 134,000,000

Users: 25,000,000
Monthly U.S. Visitors: 76,600,000

Users: 15,400,000
Monthly U.S. Visitors: 4,300,000
Monthly Global Visitors: 15,400,000

Users: 190,000,000
Monthly Visitors: 43,000,000

Monthly Unique Users: 29,000,000

Users: 25,000,000
Monthly Visitors: 1,200,000

Users: 170,000,000
Monthly Visitors: 42,000,000

Users: 500,000,000
Daily Active Users: 36,500,000

Users: 599,000,000

Users: 26,000,000
Monthly Visitors: 15,000,000

Marissa Mayer Quote

“We promise not to screw it up. Tumblr is incredibly special and has a great thing going. We will operate Tumblr independently.”

 – Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, on acquiring Tumblr

Yahoo! acquiring Tumblr is the blockbuster platform story of the month for sure. The fact that Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer had to issue a commitment not to destroy what’s good about Tumblr speaks volumes about the public perception and recent history of most acquisitions like these. For marketers, the Tumblr acquisition should bring the benefits of Yahoo!’s sophisticated ad platform to an environment that has been tricky for brands to reach properly.

Advertising Trends


Twitter Steps into Interactive Ads

“The new Card lets companies and brands provide a customized button attached to select tweets. If a user is interested in, for example, entering a promotion, they just need to click the button, which will send their name, username, and email address directly to the company. Twitter completes the whole process on the timeline.”
Source: The Verge

This new direct response mechanism shows great potential for the entire continuum – brands, users and Twitter. Twitter needs to monetize its network to stay alive, and this approach gives users a good experience, cashing in on coupons and promotions right from the timeline. Brands should tread lightly with this new feature. Too much promotion, or at least non-relevant promotion, will turn users off.

Connecting People to the Products They Love

“To shorten the path to purchase and translate video views to sales, today we’re introducing a new channel gadget on YouTube that will enable consumer goods brands to connect consumers directly with retailers throughout the entire YouTube experience. This new channel gadget will enable shoppers to seamlessly move from browsing how-to videos and featured products to finding which retailers carry them, check availability, compare prices and make a purchase, all with fewer clicks than today.”
Source: Google Retail Advertising Blog

This is a strong opportunity for consumer retail to close the “last mile” and connect video browsing directly to specific sales channels. YouTube is the world’s second biggest search engine. Millions use it daily and not just for entertainment; they research products, mine user reviews, and look for how-to advice. Now brands can essentially put an online shopping cart right next to a video to capture users in intent-to-purchase moments and convert that to a direct sale. Check out the TRESemmé YouTube channel for a live example.

Study: Native Ads Outperform Banners… Mostly

“To quantify that, study subjects were 25% more likely to look at a native ad than they were at a banner, and they looked at them 53% more frequently, checking them out 4.1 times per session on average, versus 2.7 for banners. Participants also said they were considerably more likely to share a native ad with others (32% versus 19%) and showed 18% more purchase intent after viewing them.”
Source: Forbes

The ongoing question with native advertising is, “Does it really work any better than banner ads?” According to this study, it does capture more attention, which makes sense considering that native advertising is more seamlessly integrated into the content users expect to see on media sites. But whether or not native ads lead to better sales is yet to be seen. Advertisers working in native formats need to serve two challenging objectives – engaging a user with truly valuable content that fits well within the platform’s voice and ensuring that content achieves ROI for the organization.

Noteworthy News


Google Changes Coming This Summer

“A video from Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam, today answers some of the questions about what webmasters and SEOs should expect in the near future in regards to SEO… Matt addressed 10 points, all summarized at the end as helping improve the search results by awarding the good sites and hurting the spammers and black hats in the search results.”
Source: Search Engine Land

Like so many previous updates, the next wave seems to be focused on spotlighting authoritative voices, punishing black hat efforts, and keeping SEO behemoths in check. While white hat SEO tactics can be well worthwhile, the core of any search strategy should be developing what Google ultimately wants to support: quality, authoritative content that meets an audience need.

Rando’s 5M Shares Could Be The Canary In The Social Networking Coalmine

“Rando only launched in March, but the anti-social photo-sharing app that deliberately eschews the standard social network clutter of likes and comments and connections – simply letting users share random photos with random strangers and get random snaps in return – has blasted past five million photo shares after a little over two months in the wild. It is now averaging around 200,000 shares per day, says its creator ustwo.”
Source: TechCrunch

Who knows if Rando’s growth really indicates a backlash against permanency and public personas, but the sharp uptick at least indicates significant interest in connectionless interaction. With the stranglehold the dominant networks have on the social graph, new breakthroughs are likely to relate to experiences where relationships don’t matter so much.

Tumblr Animates the Billboard Music Awards

“Tumblr worked with ABC, Billboard, Don Mischer Productions and social media agency Digital Media Management on the live-blogging execution, said Tumblr entertainment evangelist David Hayes. The pact came together late last week, and Billboard flew three of Tumblr’s top animated GIF artists to Las Vegas to work out of a social media ‘war room’ outside the venue.”
Source: Variety

This isn’t quite the “first” the story suggests, but it’s noteworthy as a high-profile, novel approach to live-blogging. Publishing quick, shareable tastes of a show while it’s still going on entices others to tune in, while creating the material for an engaging recap that lives on afterward. The gifs were a savvy tactic for Tumblr to grow its audience as well, as they showcased one of its core content forms to a wider audience.



Made in China, Designed for China

For all the buzz surrounding Chinese social networks like Sina Weibo and Renren, many analysts outside of China continue to assume these platforms are simply imitations of Western innovations. This assumption rings true for several technical and aesthetic features (e.g. Renren’s uncanny resemblance to Facebook), but China’s social media platforms have evolved beyond just being filler for a Facebook- or Twitter-shaped void in the industry.

Instead, today’s Chinese social media platforms work because they cater to the country’s unique social and cultural realities. A brand strategy optimized for Facebook or Twitter likely won’t fit its Chinese equivalents – the same technical features have very different uses depending on the country. Here are three wider social trends transforming Chinese social media into something that is both made in China and designed for China:


Self-Expression Under Big Brother

In the context of China’s government-regulated print and broadcast media environment, the speed and relative anonymity of social media has given ordinary people new opportunities to share their opinions. This desire for self-expression has triggered Chinese social media platforms to develop features that allow users to express themselves in richer and more vivid ways, contrasting with the trend towards simplification on Western social networks.

Sina Weibo, for example, allows users to add emoji within posts and embed images, audio and videos. Threaded comments under each post help users track conversations. On mobile, the photo-sharing app PaPa allows users to narrate images with short voice clips.

Word-of-Mouth Commerce

Chinese consumers are generally skeptical of information from advertising and news sources, preferring to rely on word-of-mouth from family, friends and key opinion leaders. According to a 2012 survey by McKinsey, Chinese consumers are more likely to consider purchasing a product if they see it mentioned on social media or if a friend recommends it on social media.

The decisive influence of social media on purchase decisions has spurred the introduction of ecommerce functions into social networks and social functions into ecommerce platforms. Consumers can now purchase products and share product recommendations directly from branded Sina Weibo accounts. On the ecommerce side, Taobao, China’s leading consumer-to-consumer retail platform, recently added social networking so consumers can share and curate their own shopping recommendations for friends and other Taobao users.

Mobile Migrants

Around 10% of China’s population is composed of migrant workers (163 million), making them the world’s largest mobile workforce. Most migrant workers can’t afford to purchase computers; instead, they depend on their mobile phones for both communications and entertainment. As mobile phone usage becomes a ubiquitous part of everyday life for migrant workers, Chinese social media companies are developing services to fit their equally mobile and frugal lifestyles. Many lower-end mobile phones come pre-installed with Tencent’s QQ or WeChat instant message services, which has a GPS feature that allows users to find other QQ users nearby – a convenient and helpful tool for migrant workers in big cities.

Beyond instant messaging, other companies are developing free, mobile alternatives to otherwise costly pastimes such as karaoke. One example is Changba (literally “Singing Bar” or “Singing Club”), a mobile-exclusive karaoke app that allows users to record their own karaoke renditions and share them on the major social media services, including Tencent QQ.

Bob Bowman Quote


“Reality is the second screen.”

 – CEO Bob Bowman on mobile’s primacy.
[via All Things D]

Case Study
PN Case Study
Designing the Keys to NYCxDesign

May brought the launch of NYCxDesign, New York City’s 12-day celebration of design in all its forms. The inaugural annual expo (pronounced “NYC by design”) included more than 200 events, from kids’ art classes to museum talks, held in varied venues across all five boroughs. The City Council, Mayor’s Office, city agencies, and a high-profile steering committee collaborated on the expo, in order to showcase the economic potential of New York City’s 40,000+ design professionals.

PN Connect provided a critical tool for attendees: a robust mobile scheduler. The mobile site mirrored the look and feel of the desktop site, while providing an experience tailored to mobile users. Expo attendees could search for specific types of events, browse topic categories, bring up a map of venues and activities near their current location, and save their favorites.

Users could also share events they’d be attending with a pre-populated Tweet button, using the #NYCxD hashtag. The scheduler integrated seamlessly with mobile devices, saving data to local memory and allowing users to add events to their calendars.

To bring NYCxDesign to a wide audience, the team made the scheduler easily accessible. Rather than develop OS-specific apps that require download and installation, they built a mobile website that worked across devices and platforms.

At the same time, they designed the scheduler to meet the needs of a very specific audience: mobile users in New York City. Integrating Google maps made it simple to find expo venues, while simple topic browsing navigation minimized mobile typing. Finally, by storing data on the user’s device, the team extended the tool’s range to areas without wireless service, such as the subway and elevators.

  • Scheduler Slide 3

  • Scheduler Slide 2

  • Scheduler Slide 1

Mandy Griffiths

Each issue, we hear from a digital or social media program leader. This month we talk to PN Connect’s Mandy Griffiths, Social Media Strategist at Porter Novelli Melbourne.

What role do you play at Porter Novelli?

I work across the majority of our clients to integrate social elements, keep up to date with trends, and run training sessions. I have created and managed social campaigns for Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, Rubbermaid, Melbourne International Jazz Festival, Australian Dental Association, Bupa, Greyhound Racing Victoria, Corona, Libra, and NAB.

What developments on the Web are you most excited about right now?

Ghost, a blogging platform, was just successfully funded by Kickstarter, and I’m really excited to see how it turns out. It aims to reboot blogging using a combination of user-focused design and open-source code. Being a non-profit company, it doesn’t need to answer to a board, go public or sell itself to Yahoo to make money. I’ve also been really interested in the content coming out of Medium. I love how visual the web is becoming thanks to smartphones and simple/accessible apps, but sites like Medium are still presenting great text-driven content with no secondary agenda (so far).

What are the toughest marketing challenges you and your clients are facing today?

Cutting through the noise. So many brands and organizations have jumped on the social media bandwagon that it’s cluttered with top down and uninteresting content, causing people to switch off social marketing attempts altogether. Social media is transactional in that you need to build up credits with your audience before you cash in, but that goes beyond a token competition or discount. Getting $5 off something won’t necessarily be worth listening to brand shouting in the long term. Social profiles also need to be… social. If you allow your customers or fans to ask you a question or provide feedback, you have to be prepared to answer them.

What’s one thing you’re doing or seeing differently now compared to a year ago?

Organizations and government groups that have traditionally avoided social media have really started taking an interest. They were limited in communicating through social media due to the perceived risk and uncontrollable nature of the environment. However, the dangers of social media seem to be slowly outweighed by the opportunity and reach that social media provides.

Required Reading
KPCB’s 2013 Internet Trends Report

In May, venture capital firm KPCB published their invaluable annual Internet Trends Report. The state-of-the-web profile, authored by Mary Meeker and Liang Wu, examines online growth, changes in device usage, shifts in sharing and content, and business trends, among other topics. The report takes a look down the road, too, tracking early growth signs for wearable computing devices and other new platforms.

Burning Question

Burning Question

Q. What new work-related tool are you most excited about?

“The social productivity platform Podio. We have two months working in this space, and the mobile app is very useful.”
– Moises Feintuch, Naucalpan de Juárez, Mexico
“I’m not sure how excited I am, but I just got a Mailbox account and think it has some good potential for organizing Gmail accounts. So far, though, it seems pretty slow to update, so I’m not sure how rapidly people will adopt it.”
-Dawn Arteaga, Washington, D.C.

“I’m kind of pumped up about Roambi’s new Flow platform. I think we can do some amazing presentations and leave-behinds as well as data and analytics reports. I’ve not tried it, but it’s definitely on my list.”
– Chad Hyett, New York City

Each month we select a client’s “Burning Question” and solicit answers from other clients and our senior staff. Something on your mind? Drop us a line at and tell us about it. 


Let’s (Google+ Live Broadcast) Hangout Sometime

As Barack Obama, the Dalai Lama, and the Muppets (among others) have demonstrated, Google Hangouts can be a great tool for engaging an audience. With minimal gear or setup, you can invite the whole world to hear what you have to say. Astronaut Akihiko Hoshide even used Hangouts to show an audience of ecstatic kids the International Space Station.

Success begins with choosing the right tool for the job. Standard Google+ Hangouts and Google+ Hangouts On Air have different strengths and weaknesses, so the best approach depends on your event and objectives. Beyond that, the secret to a great Hangout is a bit of preparation.

When to Use Google+ Hangouts

Google+ Hangouts bring as many as 10 people together in conversations via webcams or audio (premium accounts allow 15 for participants). This is a great environment for an informal panel discussion that lets a small audience interact directly with the speakers. While you can always appoint a moderator to help corral the participants and viewers, a standard Hangout is best suited to controlled groups. You can increase the total audience by bringing in multiple waves of participants (when someone leaves, someone new can join).

Consider This: To host a panel in a Google+ Hangout, each participant and every observer must already be connected to the Hangout host via Google+ circles. Consequently, a standard Hangout isn’t a suitable platform for recruiting new followers or reaching out to viewers who aren’t already affiliated with your Google+ profile.

When to Use Google+ Hangouts On Air

Hangouts On Air provides the keys to reaching a wider audience. For example, if you’re shooting a client’s panel discussion, you can feed the video into Google+ Hangouts and check the “Live Broadcast” option to stream your Hangout via your YouTube channel. With easy access to everyone, regardless of their Google+ participation, you can promote the event via multiple social media channels and email. Viewers can tune in just as if they would with live internet television.

Consider This: There’s no RSVP process, and compared to a standard Hangout, you’ll feel a diminished sense of control when it comes to tracking your viewers. However, this is a great opportunity to create new connections and grow your follower base by providing an easily accessible and widely inclusive means of sharing your presentation. Beyond the actual event, a Hangout recording will be immediately available to additional viewers after the fact. This extends an invitation to observe rather than to participate.

Tips for Google+ Hangouts On Air

1. Make sure you have a computer with ample processing power for your Hangout On Air, especially when using an external video camera and audio to record your live event. The more powerful the machine, the less likely your broadcast will experience lag time or freeze-up. Additionally, use a service like to ensure your Internet connection can provide sufficient upload/download bandwidth.

2. If you want to pre-promote your Hangout On Air, direct your audience to the brand’s YouTube Channel feed. If you haven’t already, you’ll need to connect your Google+ account to your YouTube account. Once the live broadcast begins, users will be able to easily find the link to the broadcast and tune in.

3. Schedule a few test runs of your Hangout On Air, especially when broadcasting from a conference or client event. Try to replicate the event you will be broadcasting, ideally from the same location where you will conduct your live broadcast. If using external video/audio, be sure to test how the broadcast responds to camera pans, so you can capture all angles of the event. A significant lag or delay in your broadcast could signal the need for higher processing power or faster Internet connection.

4. To start your test or broadcast, log into your brand’s Google account and visit

  • Click “Start a Hangout On Air.”
  • Link your Google+ account to your YouTube account (if you haven’t already).
  • Name your broadcast.
  • Click “Start Hangout On Air.”
  • Once you’re ready to go live, click “Start Broadcast” at the top of the screen.
  • After clicking “Start Broadcast,” you’re officially “On Air” and your broadcast will be open for the public to view.
  • When you’re ready to end the broadcast, click “End Broadcast.”

5. After ending your broadcast, the recording will automatically post to your brand’s YouTube page. You can edit the recording (or make it private) by using the YouTube video manager.


PN Connect is the global digital services offering from Porter Novelli. PN Connect represents our social media marketing, web development and digital analytics services and incorporates the combined talent, resources, experience, and leadership of both Voce and Porter Novelli’s digital teams. Currently the team includes 60+ digital consultants across our network of offices working with some of our largest clients.

For more information about PN Connect, or to learn how we can help your organization with digital strategy, development and measurement, e-mail:


Thank You


Thank you to the great team behind this month’s report.

From the New York office, Chad Hyett brought us the stories and insights in the Social Networking Stats and Advertising Trends sections, with data provided by Amanda Wu, Stephanie Cooper, and James O’Malley. Chris Thilk in Chicago contributed the Noteworthy News stories and insights. Peony Tsang and Zegma Zeng in Beijing wrote our feature story on China’s native social networks, and Tom Harris in Raleigh wrote the NYCxDesign case study. Lauren Lovell and Chris Marsh in Austin contributed our guide to Google+ Hangouts On Air. Mandy Griffiths in Melbourne graciously took the Spotlight hot seat, and Moises Feintuch, Dawn Arteaga, and Chad Hyett answered our Burning Question.

Big thanks to Jennifer Laker, Peter Schiebel, Angelo Manzano, Jeremy Harrington, and Sean O’Shaughnessy from the Platforms team for providing design and development support and arming us with cool new publishing tools. Finally, thank you to Mary Gaulke, Josh Hallett, Dave Coustan, and Tom Harris for their editorial oversight and proofing.

Drop Us a Line

We’re eager to hear your thoughts on this edition and your suggestions for future issues.



Top iOS Apps

iPhone Top Paid

Heads Up! – Games
WhatsApp – Social
A Beautiful Mess – Photo & Video
Minecraft – Games
Survivialcraft – Games
Sonic the Hedgehog – Games
Wood Camera – Photo & Video
AfterLight – Games
Kick the Buddy: No Mercy – Games
Temple Run: Oz – Games
iPhone Top Free

Candy Crush Saga – Games
Fast & Furious 6 – Games
Little Dentist – Games
Running with Friends – Games
Vine – Social
What the Pic?! – Games
Hardest Game Ever 2 – Games
Slots Crush – Games
Pudding Monsters – Photos & Video
Google Maps – Navigation
iPad Top Paid

Minecraft – Games
Survivalcraft – Games
TMNT: Rooftop Run – Games
Doc McStuffins: Time for Your Check Up! – Entertainment
Plants vs. Zombies HD – Games
Curious About Shapes and Colors – Education
Pages – Productivity
iMovie – Photo & Video
Kick the Buddy: No Mercy HD – Games
Frozen Synapse – Games
iPad Top Free

Fast & Furious 6 – Sports
Little Dentist – Games
Candy Crush Saga/span> – Games
Pudding Monsters HD – Games
N.O.V.A. 3 – Games
Wordy HD – Games
Chess Pro – with coach – Games
Running with Friends HD – Games
Turbo Racing League – Lifestyle
Art Nail – Girls Games – Games

Top Android & Windows Mobile Apps

Android Top Paid

SwiftKey Keyboard – Productivity
Titanium Backup Pro Key Root – Tools
Temple Run: Brave – Games
Minecraft – Games
Nova Launcher Prime – Personalization
Beautiful Widgets Pro – Personalization
Root Explorer – Speed Software
Swype Keyword – Productivity
Poweramp Full Version Unlocker – Music & Audio
ROM Manager (Premium) – Tools
Need for Speed Most Wanted – Games

Android Top Free

Facebook – Social
Candy Crush Saga – Games
Pandora – Music & Vido
Instagram – Social
Facebook Messenger – Communication
Skype – Communication
Bejeweled Blitz – Games
Netflix – Entertainment
Subway Surfers – Games
Twitter – Social
Windows Top Paid

Instance Free – Social
LOL Soundboard – Entertainment
Vide0 Download5 – Music & Video
Stop the Music! – Music & Video
Baconit – Donate – News & Weather
Grapher Calculator – Education
Catholic’s Companion – Books & Reference
Note Plus – Tools & Productivity
Outsider – Social
Airyware Tuner – Music & Video
Windows Top Free

Facebook – Social
Pandora – Music & Video
Unit Converter – Entertainment
YouTube – Entertainment
Skype – Communications
SkyDrive – Tools & Productivity
Hulu Plus – Entertainment
Flashlight-X – Tools & Productivity
Kik Messenger – Social
Netflix – Entertainment