By Missy Sheehan
Social media had quite a year in 2014. From an increase in the use of images like infographics to the introduction of paid advertising on Twitter, some significant changes took place last year that even now are helping to shape the social media landscape for 2015.
Along with seeing—and spearheading—the emergence of new trends in content delivery last year, social media networks also experienced changes in the way that users are interacting with the platforms, as well as who’s using which platform and when. The Pew Research Center examines some of these changes in its Social Media Update 2014released last month. The results in the report are based on U.S. adults who use the Internet or email at least occasionally (more than 80 percent, according to surveys conducted in January and September 2014).
As we continue to move forward with plans and goals for 2015, it can be helpful to take a pause and reflect on the changes in social media usage last year—and how you can use those changes to boost your social media strategy this year.
Here are some of the highlights of the Pew Research Center’s report:
Facebook is Still on Top
Facebook, unsurprisingly, remains by far the most popular social media network, though its growth has slowed. Unchanged since August 2013, 71 percent of online adults are using Facebook, according to the September 2014 survey cited in the report.
Growth in the older adult demographic is a notable exception, however, as for the the first time in Pew Research findings, more than half of Internet users 65 and older (56 percent) are using the network. That represents 31 percent of all seniors, the report notes.
While growth in Facebook users may have slowed, the level of user engagement with the platform has increased. “Fully 70 percent engage with the site daily (and 45 percent do so several times a day), a significant increase from the 63 percent who did so in 2013,” according the Pew Research Center’s report.
But Other Platforms Are Growing
Unlike Facebook, other major social media players like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn experienced significant increases in users from 2013 to 2014. “Instagram not only increased its overall user figure by nine percentage points, but also saw significant growth in almost every demographic group,” according to the report.
Instagram not only increased its overall user figure by nine percentage points, but also saw significant growth in almost every demographic group.
Instagram use grew substantially in the 18 to 29-year-old demographic in particular in 2014. In fact, for the first time, more than half of all Internet-using adults ages 18 to 29 (53 percent) use Instagram, compared to 37 percent in 2013.
Twitter and Pinterest likewise saw increases in users across a variety of demographic groups, while LinkedIn, on the flip side, continued growing among professionals and college graduates. In fact, for the first time, the proportion of Internet users with college educations using LinkedIn reached 50 percent, the report notes.
Despite the growth in users, none of these networks saw significant change in daily engagement levels except Twitter, which with 36 percent of users visiting daily in 2014 compared to 46 percent who did so in 2013, actually saw a 10-point decrease. It’s important to note, though that even with no change since 2013, Instagram still sees an impressive almost half of users (49 percent) visit the platform daily.
While the 13 percent of LinkedIn users who engage daily likewise remains unchanged from 2013, the platform did see a significant increase in users who use the site weekly or less often, meaning “more users log on less frequently,” the report notes.
More Social Media Users are Using Multiple Platforms
More than half of online adults (52 percent) use two or more social media sites, according to the Pew Research Center’s report. That represents a significant increase from the 42 percent who did so in 2013.
As in past years, the majority of Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn users say they also use Facebook. “Facebook acts as ‘home base’—it remains the most popular site for those who only use one, and has significant overlap with other platforms,” the report states.
The number of Facebook users who also use other platforms is on the rise, however. There were more Facebook users in 2014 who also used Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn than in 2013, according to the report.
What Does it All Mean?
So how can these statistics help your business? Well, take a look the numbers for your target demographics—are they on Facebook? Probably. Are they on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram? Maybe. Find out where your audience is, and then reach out to them there.
You also can use these statistics to gain important insights into the habits of your audience. For example, where and when are they most active? Do they visit Facebook multiple times per day or once a week? Do they visit other platforms more or less often?
Use what you learn to boost your social media strategy—and your success rate—for 2015.
Visit www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/09/social-media-update-2014 to read the Pew Research Center’s Social Media Update 2014 in its entirety.