2018 Social Media Use Has Changed: What You Need To Do [Research]

2018 Social Media Use Is your business’s approach to social media still focused on driving attention, traffic and leads?

How’s that working for you?

While marketers continue spending budget and time on social media content and promotions, their activities aren’t aligned with how people use social networks.

In 2018 you need to be present on social media to communicate and/or provide relevant information when prospects and visitors are interested in your business.

To make your social media investment yield better results, understand how social media participant use has changed and what people want from you on these platforms.


2018 Social Media Use: Know Your Audience [Research]2018 Social Media Use


Let’s examine what users are doing on social media networks.

Time Spent On Social Media

98% of Internet users are on already on social media!
There are no new audiences to expand to beyond population growth and aging (Global WebIndex 2018.)

Yet, like other forms of media, social media has marketing value because your potential audience spends significant time on these entities. Globally, users spend 2 hours and 15 minutes per day on social media or one third of their online time (GlobalWebIndex)

Users spend 2 hours and 15 minutes per day on social media or one third of their online time. @GlobalWebIndex #socialmediaClick To Tweet


Further, most of this activity occurs on a mobile device. Most frequently, the user accessed the social media site via a mobile app.

Most Facebook users access the platform via a mobile app – Chart Facebook via Buffer


2018 Social Media Use By Network

Facebook and YouTube dominate 2018 social media use in the US according to Pew Research. (Until 2018, Pew Research didn’t classify YouTube as a social media platform but rather as a video site. This was consistent with other tracking firms.)

2018 Social Media Use

2018 Social Media Use By Platform – Pew Research Chart

Social media usage by age group varies across platforms at least for Americans (2018 Pew Internet Research).

2018 Social Media Use By Age-US Chart

2018 Social Media Use By Age In The US – Pew Research

Despite negative press about data leaks like Cambridge Analytica and personal information privacy concerns, recent data revealed almost have of Facebook users haven’t changed their use of the social media network. Even more surprising, 26% of Facebook users have increased usage. (Ipsos, Thomson, Reuters, Statistica via Monday Note)

Facebook User Changes Spring 2018

Facebook User Changes – Spring 2018 (Chart via Monday Note)

But don’t take these numbers at face value!

Because deeper probing discovered that US Facebook users share less content with with friends and followers. Even worse, 47% of Facebook users are concerned about their data privacy. (eMarketer 2018)

2018 Facebook Use Chart

Expect reduced Facebook sharing for a variety of reasons-2018 Chart via eMarketer

But of significant importance – while Facebook was once the social media home base of college students, young people are abandoning the platform for other social media sites.

Teens are leaving Facebook – Pew Research Chart

Further, from a demographic perspective Facebook has become less affluent and less educated.

Facebook VS YouTube Demographics – Chart via Monday Note and Pew Internet Research


How People Use Social Media in 2018: 5 Core Activities

2018 Social Media Use Chart-Activities

How Participants Use Social Media Platforms In 2018 – GlobalWebIndex Chart

  • 40% of global respondents get their news from social media. 2017 Pew Internet Research supports these results.

    Social Media Platforms Where US Users Get News – Pew Internet Research Chart

  • 39% of global respondents use social media to fill their time. From a marketing perspective, it’s difficult to discern specifics activities but it’s likely viewing feeds and communications.
  • 37% of global respondents use social media to find entertaining content. Use opportunity because Sprout Social’s Social Advertising Content Research reveals consistent trends. Specifically, consumers want to be entertained (41%) or taught (33%).

    Engaging Social Media Ad Content-Sprout Social-2018 Research-Chart

    What participants want in social media advertising content – Sprout Social Chart

  • 32% of global respondents use social media to share videos and photos. Offer videos and photos to improve your chances of being consumed. Again Sprout Social’s research shows consistent patterns.
  • 30% of global respondents use social media to research products. Almost 40% of Internet users follow their favorite brands on social media and 1 in 4 follows brands they consider buying from. According to Mary Meeker, social media commerce increased to 6% in 2017.

    Facebook Ecommerce Trend-Chart 2018

    Facebook E-commerce click-through rate (CTRs) continues to increase – Mary Meeker 2018

Further, don’t limit how your customers can communicate with you to email, in-person and phone options (Inbound 2017 research.) This includes non-marketing communications from sales, customer service and human resources.

  • 39% of inbound research respondents wanted to communicate with firms via social media.

    Listen To How Prospects Want To Communicate With Your Business – Hubspot Chart-2017

  • 31% of inbound research respondents wanted to communicate with firms via messaging apps. Notably messaging apps use including Facebook continue to grow.

    Social Messaging VS Social Media Apps Chart

    Social Messaging VS Social Media App Usage- Chart


What 2018 Social Media Use Means For Your Business: 5 Actionable Tactics

At a minimum, you must expand social media use beyond content distribution and advertising to enter the purchase consideration set and to remain competitive among buying options.

To this end, get employees across your organization involved and active on social media to provide useful content, engage with and build relationships. Because your prospects, customers, peers and influencers spend time on social media.

How Participants Want Brands To Participate On Social Media – Chart via Sprout Social (2017)

1. Be present and findable on social media

Regardless of business focus, your target audience is on social media platforms. Therefore be visible when prospects are in the pre-sale research phase of their purchase. Otherwise you’re off-of-their-radar.

At a minimum have a social media page and related user identities associated with your business so people can find and engage with you.

Actionable Social Media Tip:

  • Complete your business’s social media profile. Include your website address and various contact methods.

2. Be responsive to and willing to engage with social media visitors

Prospects and customers expect you to be available on social media when they want to communicate with you.

48% of respondents said that being responsive prompted them to purchase from a company. (Sprout Social)

Brand Actions On Social Media The Lead Customers To Purchase – Chart via Sprout Social 2017

BUT: 1 in 10 social media messages get a response from a brand and it took 11 hours to get a response to a social message (Sprout Social’s 2017 Report). Oops!

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  • Post employee availability in your social media profiles to manage visitor expectations. Also include average response time and other communications options.
  • Incorporate social media requests into your existing communications and response systems. At a minimum, assign an employee to answer social media requests in a timely manner.

3. Provide content prospects and customers need throughout the buying process

Regardless of your target market, offer highly visual show and tell content that helps your audience to research, qualify and purchase from you. Also include sales and customer service since many social media users leave social media to purchase.

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  • Include a call-to-action in purchase-related content. Where possible use a trackable link or landing page.
  • Make this customer-focused content contextually relevant. Optimize the content for each social media platform. Where possible, reformat social media content when you create the original content.

4. Build community and deepen relationships on social media

Show your organization’s human side. To develop relationships with prospects and customers, participate in your organization’s social media communities as well as third party groups and forums.

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  • Make social media engagement part of one or more employees’ jobs. Otherwise, it’s just something else on their To Do List.
  • Engage with prospects, customers, peers, influencers and others to increase engagement. Use social media as an entry way to real life relationships.

5. Support employee participation on social media

Give your employees the tools and training they need to represent your business in the best light.

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  • Offer to train employees how to use social media. Just because employees participate on their personal social media accounts doesn’t mean that they’re ready to represent your firm and brand.
  • Develop and distribute a set of social media guidelines. Your goal is to ensure that everyone in your organization knows what he can and can’t do on social media.
  • Document your branding guidelines. Show employees how to represent your firm on social media to keep your brand visible and consistent.


2018 Social Media Use Conclusion

Your 2018 social media usage must move beyond content distribution and promotion to include customer service, sales, and community building.

Your objective is to build relationships that change to leads and sales as well as create and/or become part of a community that knows and respect you.

The best way to accomplish this is to deliver the content your audience actively seeks on social media even before you know that they’re in-market for your products and services. At the same time, be available to engage with them and answer their questions.

In the process, you’ll learn more about your target audience and deepen relationships with prospects, customers, influencers and partners.

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenHeidi Cohen is the President of Riverside Marketing Strategies.
You can find Heidi on FacebookTwitter and Google+.


Photo Credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/dSACYFB1Nj8 by @RawPixel via unsplash cc zero

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