14 Social Media Insights: What Customers Seek

Social Media: How We Spend Our Time & What It Means For Marketers [Research]

Social media has become an integral part of our daily lives; it’s where we turn to connect with family, friends and colleagues as well as to gather a variety of information. Businesses are using social media to build brands, connect with prospects, extend customer relationships, and to monitor the competition.

Recent research by Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange provides new insights regarding the amount of time and how we spent it on social media. These findings are useful to guide your social media marketing.

Social media is where we spend our time

The average online American spends 2 hours/day on social media venues from a variety of devices, PC, tablet and/or smartphones when non-social media users are included, according to the Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange research. This average increases to 3.6 hours/day when only people who use social media platforms are tracked.

While this may sound like significant proportion of one’s day, recognize that participants use a variety of content consumption behaviors to use their time efficiently, mostly dual content consumption and engagement during otherwise wasted moments. To put this in perspective, it’s less time than the average US spends watching television.

  1. Under 35 year olds spend an average 4.2 hours/day on social networks, 35 to 49 year olds spend an average 3.1 hours/day on social networks, and Over 50 year olds spend an average of 2.8 hours/day on social networks.
  2. Women spend almost 40% more time daily with social media sites than men, specifically an average of 3.6 hours/day for women versus an average of 2.6 hours for men. Since social media provides venues for social communication and engagement, this activity is similar to other devices and technologies.
  3. Business owners spend almost 50% more time on social media venues than non-owners, an average of 4.4 hours/day versus 3.0 hours/day. This is intuitively correct since they use these platforms to market their businesses.
  4. Senior executives and decision-makers spend 40% more time than those not in these jobs, specifically 4.2 hours/day versus 3.0 hours/day. This finding is a surprise since consumers don’t trust firms where senior executives aren’t involved in social media giving the impression that they’re not involved. (Here’s the research on Fortune 500 executives who don’t get social media.)
  5. People who are unemployed spend more time on social media than those who are employed, specifically 3.5 hours a day compared with 3.0 hours/day for people who are employed. This is attributable to the fact that social media is where people look to find jobs and opportunities.

Actionable Marketing Tip: Regardless of whom you’re targeting, you must be visible and engaged on social media because it’s where you’ll find your suppliers and your customers.

Customers use social media pages to meet their needs

About one out of three Americans regularly check brands’ social networking pages  regardless of the reason driving them there, according to Ipsos. As a result, brands must continually provide appropriate, fresh content to keep these people engaged.

  1. 48% of Americans under 35, 35% of Americans between 35 and 49 and 21% of Americans between 50 and 64 regularly check brands on social media.
  2. American women are 26% more likely than men to browse brand pages. In the US, women tend to do most of the consumer purchasing.
  3. Business owners are 61% more likely than non-owners to check out brand pages, specifically 53% of owners versus 33% of non-onwers.
  4. Senior executives and decision makers are 72% more likely than those not in those positions to browse social media brand pages, specifically 55% versus 32%.

Actionable Marketing Tip: Social media is viewed as a purchasing tool and business people, both owners and senior executives, are keeping their eye on what’s happening on these pages.

Consumers actively engage with brands on social media

Almost half of American Ipsos respondents follow and/or engage with brands on social media venues. Of course, businesses and marketers must engage and convert prospects into customers.

  1. Age matters with regard to engaging on social media platforms. 63% of Americans under 35 engage with brands on social networks compared with 49% of those between among those between 35 and 49 and 29% among those between 50 and 64.
  2. Business owners were 28% more likely than non-owners to follow or engage with a brand, specifically 59% of owners versus 46% of non-owners. This makes sense since business owners are more likely to be hands-on when it comes to promoting their business.
  3. Senior executives, decision-makers, and leaders were 40% more likely than those without authority to follow or engage with a brand, specifically 63% versus 45%. This finding is interesting since customers don’t perceive that businesses actively engage on social media. Make sure that your organization has a set of social media guidelines. (BTW, here’s research that shows that 70% of businesses don’t engage on social media!)
  4. Married respondents were 9% more likely than those who weren’t married to follow or engage with brands on social networks, specifically 49% versus 45%. This difference isn’t that large since both married and single households need to purchase basic necessities.
  5. Employed respondents were 21% more likely than unemployed respondents to follow or engage with at least one brand, specifically 51% of those who were employed versus 42% of those who were unemployed. This makes sense since people who are employed have purchasing power.

Actionable Marketing Tip: Senior executives and business owners are monitoring the social media competitive landscape.  Consumers also use social media to track deals and other purchase information.

As we spend more time on social media networks, they are becoming the place where prospects and customers seek to engage with brands and businesses. Business owners and  senior executives are actively checking these platforms and engaging there.

What has your experience as a marketer, business owner or senior executive been in engaging with your prospects, customers and/or the public on social media platforms? Do you monitor your competition on these venues?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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  • KevinBerg

    I wonder if they are also took in the consideration when they have the Social Media just running in the background and minimized like a lot of people do when they are on the computer. This is true in my case while I am looking for work.