I just finished scanning The Social Habit, a detailed survey of how Americans interact with Social Media today by social media researcher Tom Webster and his team at Edison Research.
Unlike some of the “infographic fluff” floating around today, this is professionally-produced research. Edison is the only firm authorized to perform exit polling for US presidential elections. The report is based on telephone interviews with 2,020 Americans over the age of 12. Edison has been doing this type of behavioral research since 1998.
Here are some of the takeaways that I found most interesting – what are your thoughts?
1. 56% of Americans older than 12 have a profile page on at least one social network.
I find it interesting to compare this with Pew Internet Research, who recently reported that 66% of online adults (18+, not 12+) use social networking sites, 48% of them daily. Does this mean that ~10% of Americans use social media but maintain no profile page…? How is this possible?
2. Americans aged 45-54 are the fastest growing demographic in social media.
The share of 45-54′s using social media (55%) is now about the same as the overall population. This surprised me. This has significant implications for companies in financial services, health care, pharma and luxury brands.
3. 33% of social networkers follow at least one brand on a social network – twice as many as last year.
This may appear like a clear validation of the value of building a presence on Facebook. But think about it this way: after 3-5 years of heavy promotion and 2 years of paid advertising options, more than 80% of brands and small businesses now maintain pages on at least one social network. Yet, two-thirds of social networkers still don’t follow a single brand. Will people EVER follow all of the brands they love?
The implications of this simple observation are profound in the social media marketing world. What if most people simply never choose to follow their favorite brands in social media? Or what if they follow to get a deal, then quickly unfollow them? Paid ads and comments by brands aren’t working that well - what’s a brand to do? (here’s a hint)
4. Social Networkers don’t watch TV like we used to.
Compared with the population at-large, social networkers are twice as likely to view TV through alternative channels (streaming or downloads). In addition, 36% of social networkers time-shift TV every chance they get. Another 27% time-shift over half of the time. When time-shifting, 83% of social networkers skip every ad in the program.
Yikes! If I was a TV ad man, this report would give me pause.
5. Location-based marketing services such as FourSquare and Gowalla are in decline.
This one may be old news to long time users, but it surprised me. I thought I was just one of the slow adopters. My wife and I do use Facebook Places from time to time – mainly on vacations so my family can keep tabs on us. Apparently, I’m not alone – only 26% of Americans are even familiar with Check In services, and now they may be dying as a breed. Guess that’s why FourSquare just redesigned their service.
6. Only 14% of the US population uses an online coupon service such as Groupon or Living Social; but 23% of social networkers do.
You can clearly see the viral impact of social networks on the couponing craze.
7. Facebook’s rate of growth has slowed dramatically in the US.
I am not going to join the lemmings and talk about “the decline of Facebook”. Mainly because (a) I have a friend who works there, and (b) I remain impressed by the amount of value they’ve created for me personally by connecting me with people I thought I’d lost forever – and with others I only met once. Thank you, Facebook. I mean it.
Nevertheless, the percent of Americans who maintain a profile page on Facebook now stands at 54%, only 3% higher than last year.
8. The number of people using Twitter several times per day grew 61% during the past year.
At NeedTagger, we can vouch for this one. The volume of needs we detect on Twitter continues to climb quickly (last check, about 5-10% per month). Considering that our filtered streams contain almost zero spam, the increase probably is due to more engagement by real people.
I have a few theories about why this is happening:
- Twitter’s recent integration into Apple’s mobile operating system iOS
- The rise of social media aggregation/curation apps like Flipboard are making it a lot easier to read, share and comment on links shared via Twitter.
- Younger people are moving on to Twitter, carrying their much-higher engagement behaviors with them. There is new evidence that this is, indeed, happening.
What are the implications of Americans’ changing social habits on your organization’s marketing, sales and customer service strategies?
Data source: http://www.socialhabit.com/