By Monique Craig - January 20th, 2015

6 social media research insights that should not be ignored

During the last few years, social media analytics has grown into a large and varied research sector, probing the complex character of today's social media scene and occasionally bringing marketers a whole wealth of actionable insights. Here are 6 social media research findings unveiled last year, which every serious marketer should leverage in their social media strategy in 2015.

1. The fastest growing social network is Instagram

They say a picture is worth a thousand words – and apparently they're right. Offering exclusively visual content enriched by hashtags, Instagram recently experienced a striking growth, a sign that its importance for consumer marketing will expand in near future.

A study conducted by Global Web Index showed that Instagram had a 23% growth in active usage, which, compared to a meek 6% of Google+ or 2% of Twitter, is quite telling. The survey brought to light another interesting social media insight – a 13% growth of Reddit, which is something no marketer expected.

Crucial takeaway from this piece of info? Consider setting up a brand account on Instagram. Especially if your target audience are teenagers – research studies have previously shown us that Instagram is their favorite social media platform.

2. The rise of multi-platform use

In a survey conducted in September 2014, the Pew Research Center concluded that multi-platform use among adults is on the rise – 52% of adults admitted using multiple social media sites, which is a significant increase from 42% who did so in 2013. Moreover, if they don't use more than one social media platform, the one they’re using is most likely Facebook – at least for 79% of them.

The study also noted that in 2014, the number of Facebook users who started to use another social media platform rose significantly. What does this mean? The future expansion of combined social media strategies, where marketers take into account their simultaneous activity on various social media platforms and accordingly dose the information to avoid overexposure to the brand.

3. Twitter is the space for social customer care

This insight is crucial because it's expected to significantly impact the ways in which brands communicate with consumers. Apparently, when a user wants to reach out to a brand, he or she is most likely to do it through Twitter.

A study conducted by Socialbakers found out that the demand for social customer service is larger on Twitter – more users asked a question through this site than through Facebook. Still, brands tend to respond more on Facebook.

This is a strange dissonance, but the key insight brought by the growing number of queries made through Twitter is clear – consumers want an immediate feedback more than ever. If marketers fail to meet this expectation and close their brands’ Facebook walls, they might seriously hurt the brand's reputation.

4. Daily engagement on Facebook is growing

Despite the 3% decrease by active usage noted by Global Web Index, Facebook isn't doing that bad at all. In fact, the study from the Pew Research Center shows that Facebook's gigantic base of users is very active – 70% of them interacts with Facebook every day and 45% do it several times a day.

Contrary to Facebook, daily engagement on Pinterest and Instagram hasn't changed that much from the 2013 figures. Moreover, Twitter noted a 10% decrease in its daily activity, which is a sign that the platform's attempt at outgrowing Facebook has failed. Apparently, there's more to Facebook than marketers suspected.

5. In social login, Facebook rules

Another interesting insight about Facebook, this time brought by the team at Janrain, who featured an interesting statistic on their company blog in October 2014. Basing their insight on 2014 data, Janrain concluded that when it comes to social login, 46% of users prefers Facebook (and even more go for it when on mobile!). Google+ follows with 34% and Twitter with 7%.

This means that if brands decide to feature a login section on their websites, they will seriously gain on user experience by including a Facebook login option.

6. Seniors go for Facebook

This insight is crucial to all marketers working in mature consumer fields. The Pew Research Center noted for the very first time in their findings a substantial growth of adult social media users aged 65 years and over – and learned that more than a half of them (56%) uses Facebook. In case you're wondering, that number represents one-third of all seniors who spend their time browsing through the web.

This piece of information, combined with an earlier finding about the 55-64 age bracket as the fastest growing user category on Twitter, has the potential to revolutionize the interactions between established brands and their mature audiences. If this age fits a brand's target demographic, marketers will be busy developing a solid social media strategy to follow up on this trend in 2015.

It goes without saying that 2014 was a valuable year for social media research. It's only by incorporating the latest consumer trends in their social network strategies that marketers stand a chance at effectively engaging users and building strong relationships in the constantly changing social media scene.

Monique Craigis a passionate blogger and marketing specialist who works for Oneflare, an online marketplace which connects customers with local service providers.

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