2013 Social Media Trends and Your Business

7 Actionable Social Media Tactics [Research/Charts]

Social Media 2013

Social media is becoming a pervasive activity among Americans across a variety of platforms and demographic segments. As a marketer, the evolving social media landscape provides new opportunities that require reassessing your current social media strategy.

Here are seven research findings to help guide your 2013 social media strategy going forward, based on data from Edison Research and Arbitron in their Infinite Dial 2013 research.

1. Social media gains traction in the US

Over 60% of Americans aged twelve and over have at least one profile on at least one social media entity.
Edison_Research_Arbitron-social networking USActionable Marketing Tip: Understand where and how your target audience uses social media. To this end, it’s useful to create a social media persona.

2. Facebook dominates other social networking options for Americans

Measured by the number of people having profiles on a social media site, Facebook has the highest penetration among the top social media entities. Facebook has more US profiles than the next three largest sites combined. Interestingly, MySpace, the once dominant social network, is ahead of Google+, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr. From a marketing perspective, note that this data only represents profiles. It doesn’t take into account others who may view the content via sharing. Further, this data is measured across a broad user base, Americans over the age of 12. This understates the impact of social media platforms whose audience form a focused segment like Tumblr or Pinterest. (As a point of reference, here’s other social media data.)

Edison_Research_Arbitron- Facebook and other social media platformsActionable Marketing Tip: Focus your social media efforts on those platforms where your target audience spends their time. For example, if you’re targeting teens and/or twenty-somethings, then include Tumblr in your mix.

3. 55+ Demographic is the fastest growing on social media

Social media is growing and expanding its reach into new age segments (in other words prospects who don’t use them currently). Based on the Edison Research-Arbitron data, while usage is highest among the 12 to 34 demographic, the highest growth demographic is the over 55 age group. In part, this is because they didn’t grow up with these platforms. As a result, they’re now engaging on social media as their children and grandchildren pull them in. Unlike the younger demographics on social media entities, older segments don’t view social media as the primary way to connect with family and friends.

Edison_Research_Arbitron-Social Media Age

Actionable Marketing Tip: Understand your target audience’s social media habits to ensure that you’re placing the appropriate content on these platforms at a comfortable rate of engagement. Remember you don’t want to overwhelm your audience with information or they’ll stop following you.

4. 27% of US social networkers check in several times a day

Over a quarter of US social networkers, roughly 71 million people, check a social media site multiple times a day. This behavior has steadily grown over the last few years. In light of the expanded ownership of smartphones and other devices, this activity is likely to continue.

Edison_Research_Arbitron-Social Media Daily use

Just under 40% of smartphone owners regularly visit social media networks several times a day.  For smartphone owners, this quick social media grazing (aka content snacking) is a great way to fill a few minutes or take a quick break from work. Further, it can be done concurrently with another activity.

Edison_Research_Arbitron-Habitual SOcial Network

Actionable Marketing Tip: Post social media content that’s formatted for easy consumption. Use images, photographs and short videos to offer a break from more complex tasks. Offer information that helps your audience to use your products as well as to entertain them.

5. Average US Facebook social networker has 303 friends

When it comes to Facebook, twelve to twenty-four year olds have the most friends on average with slightly over 500 friends each. This is about two-thirds higher than the average of 303 friends across all age groups. Interestingly, the average number of friends declines as the population gets older. This makes sense since people have less time to socialize as they get older and take on more responsibility such as higher level positions and raising families. Further, the average number of friends has increased about 15% between 2012 and 2013.

Edison_Research_Arbitron-Facebook Friends

Actionable Marketing Tip: Leverage the power of your audience’s circle of friends. Encourage them to share your content by using social sharing buttons and calls-to-action. The benefit of this is that even if your audience doesn’t read your content, their followers will.

6. Twitter reach extends beyond the social media platform

Over 40% of Americans hear about tweets almost every day in media other than Twitter and about 20% regularly hear about tweets this way but not daily. For marketers, this translates to the need to create effective tweets whose reach is amplified on other media entities including social media and other media formats.


Actionable Marketing Tip: Write great Twitter-friendly headlines to attract attention. Additionally, include timely, memorable images to broaden your Twitter reach.  Two high profile examples are @BarackObama’s tweet after winning the presidency for the second time and @Oreo’s well timed tweet during the Super Bowl blackout.Four More Years - Tweet Super Bowl Tweet by Oreo

7. Over 40% notice more company and branded content on Facebook than a year ago.

Increasingly, branded content marketing is being integrated into the Facebook experience and participants are taking note. While this fact is important to marketers, the research should have gone further to determine whether the content is motivating consumers to engage more with brands on these or other digital platforms.

Edison_Research_Arbitron-Facebook and Brands

Actionable Marketing Tip: Create branded content that’s appropriate for Facebook consumption. This doesn’t mean only promoting your own content or worse corporate babble. Rather use Facebook to provide additional insights into your business and your brand and to curate relevant content from other sources. Use the power of visual and entertaining content to engage prospects and clients. (Need help with visual content?) Here’s an example from SAS Software’s Facebook page. SAS Software - Facebook Image


Social media continues to be an important channel for marketers to build their brand and attract new prospects. That said, it’s a dynamic platform where marketers continually need to pay attention to changing demographics and trends to ensure that their marketing maximizes its effectiveness.

Have you changed your approach to social media recently? If so, why did you do so? Was it because your audience changed or the platform changed?

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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