Today, social media services offer anything and everything, from private channels for communication to a town square-ish digital equivalents to connect with friends, communities, interests, and even do business.
Social media penetration among netizens has been impeccable. A huge chunk of internet users is active on major social media platforms. While the number of existing social networking sites can be a real pain to count.
The reason for such massive popularity is - social networking has given netizens a better channel to connect.
People can share photos, thoughts, life updates, interests, news, but most importantly, they can express their views on other posts via comments or emoticons.
Thus, for a brand, just posting photos or information about their products, services, or whatever is not enough. They need to engage the users on social media and build a rapport with their customers, clients, or even prospects.
With all these, social media becomes extensive, complex, and crowded, a digital equivalent to Times Square.
There are some complexities which pose public concerns, such as cyberbullying, privacy, and other social issues. Thus, businesses using social platforms, who want to earn better connections with their customers, need to keep a better hold on what people actually want, and how they interact on social media.
About the Survey
GoodFirms surveyed 450+ social media users across the globe to study their current social media usage.
All the respondents use social media regularly, including 14.46% of highly active users, 56.56% of moderate users, and 28.98% of less active users.
Participants are from the United States (33.47%), the United Kingdom (20.66%), Canada (10.12%), Australia (6.61%), India (4.13%), Ukraine (2.69%), Belarus (2.48%), Bulgaria (1.24%), Romania (1.24%), Singapore (1.03%), and other countries (16.32%).
The surveyed users were asked general questions about their social media usage like platforms they currently use or recently left, the type of content they post or engage with, how do they deal with irrelevant ads, spam messages, & social media trolling, their efforts for privacy protection, and what they do when they see something not right on social media.
Businesses, brand managers, and digital marketing agencies can use this report to learn the common user habits and social media experiences. This would help them plan their social media marketing campaigns accordingly and get recognized as a customer-caring brand.
The Detailed Findings
Nedelina Payaneva, who works at an UK-based translation agency - Asian Absolute, feels social media is part of her routine, an essential way to shop, learn about the news, chat with friends and find new things to do.
She says, "Social media allows people to manage and accomplish their everyday activities. It’s how people communicate, share information, look for events, notice stores, and brands, and learn new things. It’s how people are aided in their daily life. For some, regular social media use even opens career opportunities, like blogger and influencer." And there are many more, just like her.
96.28% of the surveyed people view social media positively.
Yet, another 3.72% of the people view it as negative. Just as Yashu Khambra, CEO of an Indian digital marketing agency - Woosper, raises a question, "Although social media is good for engagement, but sometimes people we add they start sending irreverent/ bad content. That's where question arrives is it really good to use social media platforms?"
Over the years, Social Media has come a far way both as a community platform as well as a technology. The present research presents details into how people use social media, as well as tackle some of its self-manifested public concerns such as irrelevant advertising, spam messages, privacy issues, and trolling.
Read the following article to get detailed insights into GoodFirms's Social Media Usage Survey:
People Use a Variety of Social Media Platforms
Today, out of all the time people spend on the internet, social media holds a gigantic share; using a range of platforms, each for a different purpose.
98.55% of the people use at least 4 social media platforms daily.
The surveyed people were asked to indicate how many times, in a day, they use various social media.
For the purpose of simplification, we divided the social media usage of people into four categories: Not Even Once (do not use), Low Frequency (once per day), Medium Frequency (2-10 times per day), High Frequency (more than 10 times per day). The usage stats of 11 most popular social media are as follows:
- LinkedIn (98.97%), Facebook (95.45%), YouTube (92.77%), and Messenger (77.69%) are the top social media that are used at least once a day.
- WhatsApp (27.89%), Skype (27.27%), LinkedIn (22.31%), and Facebook (19.63%) are the most frequently used social networking platforms that are visited more than 10 times a day.
- Platforms such as Facebook (56.40%), YouTube (50.41%), and Instagram (44.83%) have the highest number of moderate users, yet people spend much of their time on these social platforms.
- Also, Snapchat (82.44%), Reddit (53.72%), and Pinterest (53.31%) are some of the least popular platforms that aren't used even once in a day.
Visual Contents Are Usually Prefered on Social Media
82.64% of the surveyed people post their own content on social media.
While 74.38% of users like to interact with other people by the way of liking, sharing, commenting, chatting, or subscribing.
We asked the surveyed people what type of content they usually post or engage on social media. And the stats are as below:
- Almost every user (87.40%) tend to post or engage with personal photos on their social media handles. Visuals are easy to consume, perceive, and identify with; thus, help better to connect with people.
- More than two-thirds (69.83%) of the users still use text messages. As social media are increasingly shifting to private, encrypted spaces, texting remains the prime medium to communicate with anyone and everyone.
- About 48.76% of the surveyed people engage with videos on social media. Videos have become the new addiction for internet users, with technology that has made it easier to not only capture but also make it more entertaining.
- Around 42.36% of users hugely engage with memes on social media. Internet memes, of mostly humorous purposes, have been entertaining as well as engaging.
- Other popular social media contents include Life Updates (25.62%), Live Streams (5.37%), VR Content (4.75%) and Others (4.34%) including news, quotes, etc.
The Popularity of Perishable Post Is on the Rise
Snapchat was the first to introduce and popularize Stories, a photo or short video post that disappears after 24 hours. Soon, social networking giants such as Instagram, WhatsApp, and Facebook followed suit in offering similar perishable post features.
While 88.84% of the surveyed people put permanent posts on social media.
More than half of the people are already putting perishable posts.
Once a piece of certain information is put on social media, it tends to remain on the internet forever. On a longer run, permanent posts may become a liability for a great lot of people.
The fact that 11.16% of the users are putting just perishable posts across social media platforms confirms the change in the popular preferences of posting.
People have increasingly come to a belief that shorter their personal information is on the internet, the better.
Very recently, Mark Zuckerberg even highlighted reducing permanence as one of the key elements in his privacy-focused vision for social networking. He shared, "People should be comfortable being themselves, and should not have to worry about what they share coming back to hurt them later. So we won't keep messages or stories around for longer than necessary to deliver the service or longer than people want them."
Top Social Media Platforms That People Stopped Using
Social Media still reigns.
85.54% of people continue to use social platforms, that they have been using.
While just a few (14.46%) still reported having stopped at least one of the social networking.
Here are the detailed stats on which platforms were abandoned this year:
- Due to the flaws that led to major data leaks, and also low user engagement, Google recently discontinued its social media wing Google Plus. Pertaining to it, about 3.93% of the participants noted leaving the platform this year.
- Around 3.31% of the people stopped using Facebook this year, due to reasons such as unnecessary content, time waste, not useful anymore, privacy issues, and data mining.
- Around 2.69% of the people stopped using Snapchat. While some found better and neater alternatives to the photo-video sharing platforms, while others reasoned with lack of active friends, being irrelevant, and wasting their time.
- About 1.86% of the people have reported leaving Twitter, as they regularly came across unnecessary content, considered it as a waste of time, or were concerned regarding the privacy issues.
- Surprisingly, 0.62% of the people discontinued using Instagram owing to their addiction to the platform.
- Other platforms that users mentioned were Pinterest (0.41%), Viber (0.41%), Vkontakte (0.41%), FB Messenger (0.21%), Telegram (0.21%), Tumblr (0.21%), and WhatsApp (0.21%).
Majority of the People Ignore Irrelevant Social Media Ads
Even though advanced, highly targeting options for advertising are available, the algorithms of social networking have their own flaws. And with the dynamic complexities of user behavior, likes, and preferences, people often get targeted with ads which they feel are unwanted, or even irrelevant.
Every 3 out of 4 users come across irrelevant ads on social media.
About two-thirds (65.58%) of the people choose to ignore irrelevant ads on social media in the first place. Notably, scrolling past the ad comes naturally to users; in most cases, they grow used to the presence of ads on their news feed.
One such respondent, Bernice Quek, who works for Singapore-based M&P International Freights, often finds her news feed flooding with irrelevant ads. In such circumstances, she tends to ignore initially. However, ‘if it is something that is disturbing or something that I am sick of seeing time and again, I will update my ad preferences or give feedback to the social media platform."
But, only 25.75% of the people give feedback or report the ads on social media.
And just 8.67% of the users actively update their ad preferences.
While many of the social media users may be unaware of a feature, that enables them to examine and update their ad preferences. It gives users considerable control over the categories, they have been placed for making ad suggestions, and thus, what ads they are shown.
Majority of People Even Ignore Spam Messages
Spam messaging is one of the top concerns for Facebook users, and so is for other social media users. People are worried about privacy, that might have compromised when an unknown person sends them an unsolicited message.
72.73% of the people receive spam messages on social platforms.
- Almost a third (35.23%) of people don't even open the spam messages and ignore them.
- While a fewer (24.43%) users do open the message, but on finding it irrelevant choose to ignore.
- As many as 23.30% of people block the messenger for sending spam messages.
- While only a handful (17.05%) of people choose to report the message to social media platforms.
People Often Manually Set Their Privacy Settings on Social Media
Only a little more than a third (31.40%) of social media users leverage default privacy settings provided by social media. This includes a majority of users who are well aware of manual customization, and still, lets on the default settings.
Two-thirds of the people manually customize their privacy settings.
Natalie Athanasiadis, who manages Ormi Media - Melbourne based digital agency, suggests, "To maintain your privacy, you must check out the standard privacy settings first. And then, manually adjust each of the settings to ensure that the information you want private, remains private, or only visible to your friends."
The participants revealed several choices where they change settings to protect their privacy, out of which the most popular are controlling who sees what, controlling social activities, and 2-step verification.
Natalie cautioned, "Don't fill out unnecessary information, consider preventing search engines from indexing your profile and preventing email and phone number lookups."
Many People Face Trolling on Social Media on a Regular Basis
With all kinds of social media available, we have far better choices, and chances, to connect. Unfortunately, more accessible, less supervised space has paved its way for increasing online harassment and cyberbullying with grave real-life consequences.
84.71% of the users have faced social trolling at least once in the recent past.
While 15.29% of users do not feel that they have been trolled recently.
Participants even stated some of the common ways they deal with trollers. A great many people tend to ignore the trolls, others block the troller or report them to the social media platforms.
Rajnish Rajpal, CEO of iBrand Strategy Services - an Indian digital marketing agency, jotted down how he deals with social trolls, "Apologize, politely differ with their thoughts, leave the discussion, and do not respond back. Also, ask the person concerned to call me directly if he still felt there was an issue."
As we invest more and more time into new technologies that allow us to connect, online vulnerabilities will proceed, except if we stand firm.
More Than Half of the Users Have Reported a Post/Page on Social Media
A single report can take down a post/page; if the reason is strong enough to indicate a breach of terms and conditions.
Most of the social media sites generally take 24 hours to review the report. A trained team of reviewers verifies the reported account, and the complaint registered. In the case of policy breach, the team either warns the user about termination policy, delete the account instantly, or even escalate reports to law enforcement as appropriate.
More than half of the users have reported a post or page at least once.
While the other (39.46%) people have never ever reported any post or page.
Of these, 33.88% of users are aware of the reporting feature and 5.58% are not.
Inappropriate content, spam posts, and hate speech tops all the reasons, which encourage users to report abuse on social media.
"The posts I reported were selling their audience the 'get rich quick' income method, which was highly multi-level marketing or possible scams. I reported it so that the not-so-tech-savvy people will not be misled.", Charlotte Ang summarizes an incident she came across a while back. She works for Rentalorry, one of the largest networks of commercial vehicles in Singapore.
Social media is full of such kinds of deceives, hate, and violence, and thousands of people fall victim to it on a regular basis. If used wisely, a feature like reporting could curb a lot of black practices on social media.
People Do Unfollow Brands/ People That Are No More Relevant
For a brand, just because they have persuaded somebody to follow them on social media doesn't mean people will remain forever.
4 out of every 5 surveyed people have recently unfollowed a brand/person.
The reasons they stop following a social media page are just as different as they are. Many of these people mentioned that they unfollowed a brand because they were no longer interested in their content. While many others took the call pertaining to the irrelevant content published on the platform.
Marcus Miller, a digital marketing consultant at BowlerHat, explains, "If a brand or person is not giving me what I want from social or is cluttering up my feed then I am likely to unfollow. I am sure I have unfollowed folks due to their opinion on certain matters - recently I unfollowed people who were defending a certain pop star who I feel is way beyond defending at this point."
Also, many even reported they unfollowed because they found too many posts from the brand. As noted by Izaak Crook, the most common reason for him unfollowing a brand or person on social media is if he is seeing their content too much, too frequently, and it doesn't resonate. Izaak works as a content marketing manager at AppInstitute - one of the top-tier app makers in the UK. He says, "I can easily ignore irrelevant or uninteresting posts that aren't all that frequent, but if it's every day, multiple times a day, then I have to take action and unfollow."
Social media is almost universal now. So, it's essential for businesses to not only have a presence on different platforms, but to reach, connect, and preserve customers.
And social media users are growing complicated and sensitive day by day. Making it important for businesses to make better decisions, to be on people's favorite platforms, posting their preferred platform, and not-to-forget, to avoid doing what your customers won't like.
If you feel overwhelmed, don't worry! GoodFirms listed social media marketing agencies have been continuously ramping the level up to measure user behavior and provide reformist solutions for unique marketing needs.
Additionally, you can also go through GoodFirms's list of best branding agencies that would help you to create an iconic brand, to complement your social media marketing efforts.
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