Why You Need More Than Just Facebook
I recently came across a survey on social media use that shows that Facebook is killing it more than ever.
That same survey also showed that internet users are active on several other social media platforms and it made it pretty clear that any social media strategy for companies or associations needs to include more than just Facebook.
If your organization only uses Facebook to tell your stories, it makes about as much sense these days as only advertising on radio.
First Some Background
The study, humbly titled Social Media Update 2016, was done by the Pew Research Centre in the US. Over 1,500 Americans were surveyed in the spring of 2016 about their use of social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter.
What’s also interesting to note is that Pew Research has tracked specific usage on social media sites every year since 2012. This allows us to see social media trends and it also demonstrates consistency.
While the people surveyed were all in the US, I don’t think the numbers would be very different for Canada. There have been surveys like this in the past done by other firms, but it’s rare that a survey shows social media use on specific sites for a five year period.
Facebook is the King of Social Media Platforms
The clear winner in the study is Facebook. It got more than double the number of users as its next competitor and after two years of a rather flat performance, it showed a nice uptick in the number of users from 2015 to 2016.
60% of all adults in America now are on Facebook. 76% of them use Facebook on a daily basis. About half use Instagram every day. Since Facebook owns Instagram, the study is especially good news for Much Zuckerberg, the 33-year old CEO of Facebook, who’s worth $67 billion dollars, give or take a few million.
It’s also interesting to note that the four other highest used social media platforms are incredibly close. The use of Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter ranges from 32% to 24% respectively.
I would suspect when the next survey numbers are released, they’ll show Instagram doing even better, because I sense it’s increased its popularity considerably in the past year or so. That’s just a gut feeling.
If you added the percentages on the chart above and got more than 100%, keep in mind in most cases people are on more than one social media platform on a consistent basis. The numbers are for adults only.
86% of Americans are internet users according to the survey.
A Four-Way Race For Social Media Second Place
Another part of the survey that I found fascinating was what I call the cross-pollination question – the percentage of people who share their social media time on different sites. It’s an important connection. It’s like asking the question of what people like to drink while they eat popcorn while at the movies. That’s a critically important question for those who manufacture pop, bottled water and other refreshments.
It’s not surprising that due to the strength of Facebook, the percentages of people who use all other sites also spend some time on Facebook.
Some other combinations are quite interesting. How about only 29% of Facebook users also use Twitter? Since so many people are now getting much of their news on Facebook, I would have thought a sizeable number of Facebook users would also be on Twitter, which is the best source for breaking news. In addition, only 33% of Facebook users are on LinkedIn. With the business appeal of LinkedIn, I would have thought it would have had a bigger audience of Facebook users than that.
What Do the Social Media Numbers Tell Us?
To me, the study reveals two clear truths and neither is surprising. With two billion users around the world, Facebook is the number one social media platform, but if you run a company or association looking at reaching people you just can’t use Facebook and think the job’s done.
Part of my consultancy work is to do digital communications, including social media, for organizations. I’ve long been an advocate for telling stories on several different social media sites, along with the organization’s website and blog. Throw in YouTube, which wasn’t included in this survey because it’s a different site than the others, and you're starting to get the picture of why stories need to be told on several social media platforms and other digital media sources like YouTube and websites.
The important point to remember is they all fit together. A piece of video can be included in a blog post on an organization’s website. It can be shared on several social media platforms, which can also be used to get readers back to the full blog post on their website. Hopefully they’ll spend more time on the website once they’re there, so they can learn more about the company.
For me, the survey is a validation of what I have been saying for a long time. You can’t just simply fire up a Facebook page, do a few posts and think you’re doing a great job in social media. If a sizeable portion of your audience is spending more time on other social media sites you need to be there too.
If you sell products and a majority of your business is done online, while a smaller, but still substantial percentage of your business is done at your brick and mortar locations, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to simply ignore the traditional side of your business. That’s why any organization that does social media should ensure they try to speak to as many of their customers and members in the places they hang out online. Having an active Facebook page doesn’t mean you’re getting to everybody you want to get to.
It does take more work, but who said this was going to be easy?
Please note: Thank you to Pew Research Centre for graphs used in this blog
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