Monday, March 30, 2015

Interesting developments in communications

I've been seeing some interesting charts and diagrams on Twitter over the last few days, which anyone who works in Comms may find useful. Here are three of them. Obviously all the copyright remains with the organisations who created the diagrams, but as they've tweeted them, I hope they won't mind me reproducing them here with proper attribution.

First up is this breakdown by Microsoft of PC v mobile usage. (Edit: the blue is PC and the pink is mobile in the graph.) The main learning point is that very few people use mobile devices for email. In work we have recently talked about optimising our email newsletters for mobiles, but I now wonder how much we should be concerned. Obviously we want to make sure they are readable, but the assumption that everyone gets email on their mobiles isn't accurate. 

Click the image to embiggen it to readable size

On the other hand, using social media to drive traffic to websites requires making sure the website is optimised for mobile as 66% of social networking usage is on mobile devices. Two thirds of  SoMe consumers will potentially be clicking through from a mobile device. That has implications for website design.

The next graph is from The Economist and shows how Whatsapp is overtaking SMS text messages. What’s also interesting is how SMS has plateaud and even fallen back slightly. 

This usage graph suggests that Whatsapp may give you as much reach as SMS if you were exploring a new comms channel. Although you’d need to know more about user demography. I suspect Whatsapp is still very much an under-30s medium, a bit like Instagram. (These are my suspicions, I haven't checked to see if there is data out there. I'm basing my assumption on the people I know using either Whatsapp or Instagram.) 

We also still don’t know if Whatsapp’s growth is a bubble that may burst when something new comes along. But what it does show is how quickly a new comms channel can develop. In three years it is reaching the heights it took SMS almost 20 years to reach.

The third diagram has been created by Hootsuite and I really like it. It’s a honeycomb of user experience to guide the creation of web content that will engage people. 

I don’t think this is limited to creating content for websites. I have seen a lot of material produced that tick off none of these characteristics. I may even have been guilty of producing some myself - that web-page that someone has requested because they want a web-page rather than for any compelling user-oriented reason.

As a final thought, I wouldn't have seen any of these if it hadn't been for Twitter. People don't often regard social media as a learning channel, but I find more and more interesting stuff that makes me think turning up in my feed these days. There is a lot of data out there to drive good comms. It's just a question of noticing it.


  1. 16% of all online email strikes me as a massive number, not an afterthought. This is likely to increase further given mobile adoption rate.

    Personally, I get really frustrated at companies that blindly dispatch email without considering how it'll end up looking on a phone. Adding animated gifs as a header seems to be a trend at the moment, but it can cause flickering in the email - not the best for reading!

    That original graph is awful without a key though, took me ages to determine which was mobile/desktop give lack of legend. Looks like they've added one in the graphic in their tweet stream.

  2. I agree emails shouldn't be de-optimised for mobile. There's no cause of animated gifs anywhere.

    They might have updated the graph. I worked it out from the line that said 53% of all usage is on mobile, which meant the pink was mobile.

  3. I've updated the post to take on board your comments, Ian. Thanks for the feedback.

  4. Anonymous31/3/15 15:28

    Love that point about Twitter as a learning channel. There's lots I think organisations could do to enhance people's learning. My colleague Chris Bolton wrote this post about the NHS Hack Day, and I think it outlines how lots of activities outside traditional training can be much more effective:

    Nice work on the blog!


  5. Thanks Dyfrig. I definitely see Twitter as a learning channel and pick up a lot of good practice from it.