Datareportal’s Chief Analyst Simon Kemp says many brands churn out cookie-cutter content that fails to deliver value to consumers. This behaviour needs to be fixed amid everyone’s short attention spans.

Instead of focusing on themselves, brands should focus on their customers and deliver value-added content, says Kemp.

Simon Kemp, founder of Kepios and the author and Chief Analyst of Datareportal, shared that many brands are guilty of narcissism when it comes to their marketing..

For reference, Mayo Clinic defines narcissistic personality disorder as “a mental health condition in which people have an unreasonably high sense of their own importance”.

According to Kemp, many brands simply miss the point of finding common ground with their customers and building relationships.   

That means not preaching how amazing your brand is, but making it a point to add value or even entertain consumers.

“Get away from self-indulgent brand monologues – don’t tell me about your product’s features,” he says. “Give me the stuff that I value,” he says.

Case in point: Coke’s latest ad, where famous art pieces toss a bottle of coke to each other enjoying a sip. It’s a nice piece of content that’s fun and worthy of sharing, says Kemp.

He believes brands can spend their marketing dollars more wisely, by coming up with something truly creative and unique, instead of talking about themselves all over again. 

“About US$660 billion is spent on social media advertising a year. And far too little of it makes a real impression” he says.

Kemp presented these key findings and takeaways at Digital Trends 1Q2023, a Greater Business Club event on 16 March.

Lexi Sydow, Head of Insights and Analytics at, also presented some interesting findings on mobile user behaviour from the State of Mobile 2023 report.

Here are some notable points from their presentations.

Social media engagement is extremely competitive

Despite social media pretty much taking over our lives, engagement rates are dismal.  According to Kemp, while platform algorithms are largely to blame for this, brands are still not getting it right when it comes to creating engaging content.

For instance, the average engagement rate on Instagram is only 0.69 percent. That means, out of 1,000 followers, only six of them are liking, sharing or commenting on your posts. 

Low engagement rates remain an issue regardless of how much money is channelled into social media campaigns. According to Statista, about US$226 billion was spent on social media advertising in 2022. 

While budgets have increased due to social media’s widespread reach, it also means consumers are constantly bombarded with content that is often largely irrelevant. 

“Even when you spend money to promote your content, that won’t guarantee engagement. Even if we’re promoting our posts, we still need to deliver  content that people care about,” says Kemp.  “If you’re going to interrupt people with your ads, at least make those ads worthwhile. Don’t waste money on interrupting people just to annoy them,” he continues.

Time spent online is going down

Our time spent online has fallen over recent months. A year ago, internet users spent an average of seven hours per day online. “But by the end of last year, they were  spending about 20 minutes less per day online, which is an important drop”, according to Kemp.

Behaviours and priorities have evolved since we passed the peak of Covid-related lockdowns, and users appear to be adopting more purposeful online behaviours. As a result, marketers need to focus on higher quality content, as internet users get pickier about what they do online. 

Inevitably, this means that some of those methods that have been successful before, may not be so effective now. “Marketers have to go back to the drawing board to deliver a higher quality experience”, says Kemp.

But time spent on social media has gone up 

TikTok, in particular, is emerging as an increasingly popular social media platform, across age groups and geographies. Data shows that the platform’s ad audience grew by almost 20 percent during 2022. Separately, people are also spending about 23 hours a month using YouTube.

“The time spent on social media is the highest it’s ever been”, notes Kemp. For every 10 minutes we spend online, roughly four minutes is spent using social media. That’s because we are looking to social media for more activities than ever.

For instance, from teenagers to those in their mid-30s, people look to social media to research new products before parting with their money. They are trawling through social media platforms to look for impartial reviews on YouTube, or researching product alternatives recommended by TikTok influencers. 

Such trends should be considered by marketers when planning their social media strategies. Smaller brands could consider marketing efforts that comprise working with social media influencers or key opinion leaders, to market their products to their desired age groups.

Diversity is key in social media marketing

The average social media user uses about seven platforms each month. So, while it may be tempting to take advantage of upfront advertising discounts offered by social media platforms, Kemp advises marketers against doing so. 

Users bounce between social media platforms, depending on what type of content they’re looking for, and investing upfront in a single platform just because it had a good deal could yield unsatisfying results.

“If you commit all your budget to just one platform at the beginning of the year you’re going to use that platform for everything throughout the year, because you’ve made that upfront  investment,” he says. Unless you have a specific purpose for that specific platform, this “old school” approach to booking media will likely deliver disappoint ROI.

Instead, marketers should focus on diversity and flexibility in their ad spend, embracing a range of social media platforms for various purposes. 

Meanwhile, when it comes to search, Gen Z are increasingly using platforms like TikTok alongside more “conventional” choices like Google.

Marketers could learn a thing or two from TikTokers

Sydow says TikTok is leading social media platforms for in-app spend.’s Sydow presented some compelling findings about mobile app behaviours.  According to Sydow, in-app purchases on social media reached US$7.28 billion in 2022. TikTok leads the pack, generating 85 cents per user in terms of average monthly revenue per use in the United States alone. Snapchat is second at 5 cents per user with its recently-launched subscription.

Sydow attributes this to the purchase of TikTok Coins, where TikTok audiences buy Coins to “tip” to their favourite TikTokers as tokens of appreciation – much like giving a busker a dollar for their performance.

What’s more astounding is that teenagers are spending money on their favourite TikTokers. The broader takeaway here, however, is  that people are willing to spend money on brands whose content delivers value.

Live content is not staged or scripted, making it a great way to engage audiences. The success of live streaming illustrates the rise of authenticity and the move away from mere social media presence, adds Kemp.


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