social media research

Are you wondering how the social media landscape is changing for users?

Wondering where you should focus your social media activities?

Pew Research has released a brand-new study, which shows how American users have diversified their social media use.

Here are four noteworthy ways social media use is changing for American users:

#1: Facebook—Still Popular, but not Always “Platform of Choice”

The Pew study indicates that overall, Facebook continues to be a favorite, but 42% of online adults use two or more social networks. Among those who use just one social platform, 8% use LinkedIn, 4% use Pinterest and 2% use Twitter or Instagram as their platform of choice.


Facebook still popular, but the grass is getting greener on the other side.

Key Takeaway

Facebook remains popular because everyone’s friends and family hang out there, and because of its social graph. Other than that, users (and marketers) are constantly frustrated by the way Facebook changes the rules of engagement or the content layout.

The result is that users start to feel like the “grass is greener on the other side” and are drawn to other sites, which quickly develop their own demographically unique user base (e.g., teenagers on Snapchat, women on Pinterest, business executives on LinkedIn, etc.).

The challenge for Facebook marketers is to succeed on an increasingly turbulent channel, while trying to hold the attention of multiplatform users. Under these circumstances, your best bet is to diversify your content marketing strategy and engage with customers not just on Facebook, but also on every other channel where they hang out.

#2: Instagram—Incredible Loyalty 

The research also shows that Instagram has incredibly high user engagement rates, especially when compared with Facebook. More than half (57%) of Instagram users use the app on a daily basis (63% for Facebook) while 35% do so multiple times a day (40% for Facebook). That’s a shipload of loyalty for such a small site!


Instagram’s user engagement rates are comparable to Facebook’s.

Key Takeaway

Instagram is becoming a significant platform for brand marketers to leverage because its user engagement rates are so high. Users on Instagram are even interacting with brands that do not have an official Instagram presence. For example, Chanel does not have an official Instagram account, but it has more than 2.7 million images that have been branded with the #Chanel hashtag.

As a marketer, you need pictures that will wow consumers, encourage a deeper relationship with your brand and build a strong, loyal community of fans and customers. Here are some Instagram marketing tips:

  • First, experience Instagram as a user, not just as a marketer—sign up for a personal account to experience what other users see when they engage with your brand.
  • Choose photos that bring out the “feel and lifestyle” of your brand.
  • Launch a campaign or photo contest to get your audience excited about sharing brand-relevant photos, which you can curate and display on your website or Facebook page.
  • Since you’ll be aggregating photos through hashtags, choose hashtags that are unique, simple and relevant to your brand. Avoid blending too many words into one hashtag (Instagram users love simplicity).
  • Add captions that lend humor, wit and context to your photos.
  • Link photos to your product pages to encourage consumers to go directly to your store and make a purchase.
  • Reward your followers for viewing and sharing your pictures with a discount or a promotional code.

#3: LinkedIn—Dominance by High-income Executives Remains

LinkedIn usage continued to be dominated by high-income earners ($75,000 annual salary) and college graduates. It’s also the only social networking site with the highest usage among 50- to 64-year-olds (think business executives and decision makers).


LinkedIn users are more affluent and more educated than the average online user.

Key Takeaway

LinkedIn is the place where businesspeople network, show off their expertise and secure new business.

As a marketer, LinkedIn is incredibly relevant if you want your organization to be taken seriously by other business executives and highly trained employees. Here are some nifty tips to leverage LinkedIn for more business:

  • Start using LinkedIn’s sponsored updates. Sponsored updates are compelling because they appear directly in a user’s news feed rather than on the sidebar, making it more likely for your audience to notice and interact with them.
  • Sponsored updates also have the same options as regular updates, such as like, share and comment. Since your business connections will already be looking at what you have to offer, consider adding sponsored updates to your LinkedIn content strategy so your connections can like, share and comment, thus exposing your content to more eyeballs.
  • Consider using targeted updates on your company page (only page administrators can do this). Unlike regular updates where your message goes out to all of your followers, targeted updates go out to a targeted LinkedIn audience. You can tailor the audience based on specific criteria such as company size, industry, function, seniority and geography. If your company is looking to hire, you can also target non-employees with your content.

#4: Women Spend More Time on Social Media—but not on Facebook

Women are increasing the amount of time they spend on social media, especially on platforms other than Facebook, according to eMarketer. In the survey, 48% of women said they increased the amount of time spent on Pinterest and blogs, while 67% said the same about Instagram. Only 30% said they’re spending more time on Facebook.


Women are spending more time on social channels other than Facebook.

Key Takeaway

For most women, social media is about family and friends. But they also want to be notified about coupons, promotions and shopping deals.

In other words, women have a dual personal-commercial interest in social media. They tend to mix their personal and commercial interests into one feed; for instance, posting family photos, talking about their kids and asking for advice about a product. So the best way to interact with women is to humanize your brand and create a social presence they’re willing to connect with (especially on a platform like Pinterest, which is more trustworthy to women).

It’s also a good idea to plan an integrated campaign because all of these social channels feed off of each other. If a potential customer sees your campaign on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram, she’ll remember it, therefore making it more effective. Just make sure your content is entertaining, shareworthy and not disruptive.

What do you think? How have these insights prompted you to improve your social media marketing strategy? Please leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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  • The most powerful social media profile you can use is the LinkedIn profile. Most powerful that is, if you are looking to do more business and/or achieve your professional goals. To me LinkedIn means business! Your LinkedIn profile says everything about who you or your organization are professionally.

  • predsicker

    Hi Patrick, Thanks so much for reading. You’re right about LinkedIn being a powerful tool. I think depending on who your target audience is, other platforms can be equally compelling!

  • Really interesting insight from Pew Research, Patricia! It seems like the increasing usage on sites other than Facebook shows that there’s a valid reason to have a presence on these other channels. Unless a brand’s target audience is extremely specific, an active Pinterest or Instagram profile could attract a dedicated community.

  • Audrey

    This is really interesting information! Thanks for the report. I appreciate the insight into the different social media platforms

  • Kelli Martinelli

    I wonder if there will come a time when we collectively experience social media fatigue and users begin to reject these platforms entirely, opting for traditional methods of connection. We know younger users are opting out of facebook, does it stand to reason that they may opt out of social profiles altogether?

  • Derek Stein

    I would love to have the ability to manage a brand’s Instagram account from its corresponding Facebook page’s Admin Panel. It would save an incredible amount of time.

  • predsicker

    Thanks so much for reading Audrey 🙂

  • predsicker

    I agree Sarah. There’s definitely enough evidence about Instagram being a compelling platform. Images continue to be very appealing to users and now with Facebook deciding (in December) to give more visibility to news articles, and story links, I think photo-centric platforms will definitely start to experience more popularity.

  • predsicker

    Hi Kelli. Interesting line of thought. I don’t think consumers will ever become tired of social media, only irrelevant social media. As long as they’re getting content that is interesting to them, they will consume more and more of it. I think it’s marketers who might suffer social media fatigue first, as they struggle to stand above the noise created in “all these platforms.” Even the younger ones you mention have only opted out of Facebook NOT social media – they’re now hanging out at SnapChat.

  • TrudiJP

    So, do you think it is better to be really great at marketing yourself on one platform (Facebook, for example) and constantly work at improving on that one platform, or is it better to spread yourself out so you are in more places, but perhaps not being able to nail any one of them because there simply isn’t enough time to excel in all of them?

  • Kelli Martinelli

    I’m sure you’re spot on. I live in a bubble called Portland, Oregon, where we are increasingly choosing slow food over fast food, small biz and DIY over Walmart and Costco. Where we still read zines and go to coffee shops other than Starbucks. And it’s likely because of my immediate surroundings that I then look to the world of social and how rapidly it’s being flooded with new platforms like SnapChat and Whisper, and as more and more come in to play, it may get harder and harder to discern those that are relevant. And when folks aren’t sure what platforms are relevant to them to engage on, and spend time hopping from one to another, they may jump ship entirely. And marketers (of which I am one!) are going to have a harder time nailing them down for any long period of time. We’re going to have to become more nimble!

  • Nancy B.

    Hi, Kelli – you make a good point about younger users opting out of Facebook, but I’m thinking they’re doing so because the adults in their lives (e.g. parents, teachers, etc.) are now on Facebook as much as (if not more than) they are. I have a couple of teenage children neither of whom would be caught dead on Facebook anymore.

    Another issue with Facebook is that it’s “static”. Yes, you can post and share video, but it’s not as fresh or seen as a place to show off your creativity anymore. Instead Vine, SnapChat, YouTube are the places to be, to show the world your band, your artwork, your thoughts, etc.

    Just my .02.

  • @ChrisBridgett

    “Link photos to your product pages to encourage consumers to go directly to your store and make a purchase.” you can’t link your instagram to another site, or have I missed something !? Create boards on Pinterest with you instagrams or those you’ve curated and link from there, that works for me.

  • Great overview of how social media is changing and how we can harness the new reality. One question: In the section where you outline how brands can use Instagram you say “Link photos to your products pages to encourage consumers to go directly to your store and make a purchase.” However, in my experience, I see no way to create links from images to products/web pages. Can you please clarify? Thanks!

  • predsicker

    Hi Trudi, I think a platform is only as good as the audience on it. If your audience is on a particular platform, then by all means work it. But if they leave and go elsewhere or they start to experiment with other platforms, then it’s your job to “spread yourself”. Look as marketers, our job is never going to be easy. Rest assured – you have to excel, and you have to capture your audience’s attention wherever THEY ARE, or else you’ll become irrelevant.

  • AmandahBlackwell

    I created Facebook pages for my freelance content writing because that was the advice I was given. But, I have more followers on Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn. For some reason, for me, I find Pinterest and Twitter easier than Facebook. However, as a social media manager, I find Facebook easy to use. Go figure.

  • predsicker

    Hi Chris, You’re right. You have to first curate photos on a separate microsite or Facebook page. Then link them to ecommerce product page on your site . Sorry for not making that clear in the post.

  • predsicker

    Thanks for reading Michelle. Please see clarification above ^^^. Thanks.

  • I’m an Instagram junkie! I believe in community and it has built one heck of a community!

  • Patricia, Instagram seems to be taking off. It is heavy on ego, that site ;)….but in truth, we like eye candy and IG can give us instant eye candy in the form of flashy or inspiring imagery.

    I have doubled up my efforts on IG to grow my blog and businesses through that channel.

    Thanks for sharing Patricia!

  • It’s so important that we know our target market/audience and understand what it is they need so we can really focus our efforts on the right social media platform. Thank you for sharing this great research Patricia, this is very informative!

  • Slightly off topic…but can Instagram photos be copied and pasted to business FB pages without copyright issues? It seems that google images is tightening up on this issue and I am looking for alternatives.

  • CliqueOut

    People are just bored with the monotony of Facebook; they may be adding on features but the basis of Facebook is still the same – people are bored.
    People are spoilt for choice; and for now its Instagram.. what’s next?

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  • Very interesting points you have shared. I personally love working on Facebook and Linkedin.

  • Aisha Mehmood

    very detailed work.. must say you have ample of knowledge