Social media has been the talk of the town amongst marketers for several years. As we start a new year, now is a good time to ask if social media is still as relevant as it was in years past. For marketers who use social networks to reach consumers, the answer is yes. A recent study of social networks from Pew Research Center shows that social networks continue to grow in total number of users and in engagement, with Facebook still leading the way.
“In a new survey conducted in September 2014, the Pew Research Center finds that Facebook remains by far the most popular social media site,” the study’s authors wrote in a press release. “While its growth has slowed, the level of user engagement with the platform has increased.”
The study found that the percentage of online adults who use Facebook has remained steady for the past year. About 71 percent of online adults use Facebook, which is about the same percentage Pew reported in August 2013. This suggests that Facebook may have reached a plateau when it comes to new members. The number of new members matches the number of people who stop using the platform.
This is the law of diminishing returns in action. At some point, all the people who are likely to be on Facebook will already be on Facebook. Of course, Facebook will try to keep updating and upgrading the platform so that it has something for everyone. With such a large audience, Facebook shouldn’t be too worried.
The report also has good news for marketers who use Facebook. Though the number of users has held steady, Facebook marketers have seen a lot more engagement from fans. According to the study, seven out of 10 (70%) Facebook users engage with the site daily and 45 percent report engaging with the site several times a day. This is more than a 10 percent increase from the 63 percent of users who engaged daily in 2013.
The study also found that the other major platforms saw improvement in 2014. Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn all saw their user bases grow. LinkedIn and Pinterest are each used by 28 percent of online adults. Instagram is used by 26 percent and Twitter by 23 percent. For each platform, the change was more than double-digit growth from 2013.
Though the number of users for the other platforms has increased more than Facebook, they haven’t matched Facebook’s engagement. In contrast to Facebook’s 70 percent engagement rate, only about half (49%) of Instagram users and 17 percent of Pinterest users engage with their respective platforms daily. According to Pew, neither of these represent a significant change from 2013. Twitter saw it’s daily engaged user percentage drop 10 points to 36 percent. LinkedIn held steady at 13 percent, but this is due to the fact that people don’t use LinkedIn on the weekends.
The research also found that more internet users were actively using more than one social network. Pew reported that 52 percent of online adults use two or more social media sites, a 25 percent increase from 2013. Marketers should keep this in mind when creating marketing campaigns. Because people use multiple social networks, it’s important to try and target as many as possible.
The study’s results are based on data from telephone interviews from about 1600 internet users. The interviews were conducted in the middle of September 2014, so this report from Pew represents some of the most up-to-date numbers on social media usage available.
This research suggests that social networks will continue to be important for the near future, since the number of people using the platforms has only increased. The research also reminds marketers that if they use social media effectively, they can engage with more consumers and target audiences than before. For more news about how social media can help retailers, read this article on how Facebook and Google+ dominate social logins on ecommerce sites.