Facebook the clear winner in Pew’s 2014 Social Media Update

(Originally published on the PNConnect Blog)

Last Friday Pew released their much-anticipated 2014 Social Media Update, an updated look at what social networks and apps are gaining, rising and otherwise getting the interest of the people over the last 12 months. Let’s look at some top-line stats:

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Facebook continues to be the most-used network, with 71% of adults maintaining a profile there and many seeing it as the “must have” network, a home base regardless of what other networks they may be using. But it’s the only network to not show any growth in the survey from 2013 to 2014. While growth hasn’t moved, though, engagement has. 70% of Facebook’s users engage with the site daily, the highest percentage of any network.

Twitter seems to be in somewhat the opposite situation. The number of overall users grew from 18% to 23% year-over-year, but the number of those who engage on or visit the site daily dropped from 46% to 36% this past year.

Instagram users, though, were heavy daily users, with 49% of them saying they visit daily and 32% saying they check-in several times a day. Instagram also seems to be the most widely-used “other” network outside of Facebook. So if, in addition to Facebook, people are going to be active on another network it’s most likely to be Instagram. 265 of the online population is now on Instagram, up from 17% in 2013.

Also growing significantly is Pinterest, which is up from 21% in 2013 to 28% in 2014. the user base there continues to be mostly women, 42% of whom are active there as opposed to just 18$ of men. Pinterest also has a very even spread among age groups, with young and older users represented in relatively consistent numbers. That differs from other networks, where things are often weighted heavily in one group or another.

Finally, LinkedIn (a Voce/Porter Novelli client) usage grew to 28% of online adults in 2014, half of whom have college degrees. Because of its more professional nature, LinkedIn skews a bit older, with 61% of its user being between 30 and 64. Usage of LinkedIn tends to be less often than weekly, meaning people are still using it as a static resume as opposed to a daily engagement network.

So stats aside there are some points/questions that emerge from the study:

What’s going on with Twitter? Users are up (though not dramatically) but the number of people visiting/engaging with the network daily is down in a pretty big way. It, along with Instagram, though, are the most common “second” network people use in addition to Facebook. If you read between the lines here you can see that while Twitter has high awareness – thanks, it can be presumed, at least in part to all the work it’s done to appeal to major media companies – it’s still struggling on converting that awareness into active users. In fact it may be having the opposite action and just telling people that it’s the place to lean back and *view* updates.

Facebook is the new home page: That just seems to be reality. It’s the one place people feel they have to be, whether they’re connecting to friends, family, co-workers or anyone/thing else, they can’t avoid Facebook. That being said, that growth has leveled off at 71% of the overall adult online population has to mean something, and something more concrete than all the anecdote-driven “teens don’t care about Facebook anymore” stories that have circulated for the last two years. For brand publishers it may mean that, in addition to all the concerns 2015 brings about decreasing Reach, the days of endless audience growth on Faceook – at least for existing channels – may be slowing down.

You can’t ignore Instagram engagement: It’s long been well-known that Instagram is an engagement powerhouse, and looking at these stats, not just in terms of growth but also how people check it multiple times daily. So, since it’s a straight Twitter-like feed (as opposed to Facebook’s curated algorithm) this should just be the latest opportunity for publishers to evaluate their visual assets and how to get the most out of them.

There’s lots of overlap, but don’t let that deter growth: Sure, 58% of those who use Instagram also use Twitter. But don’t let that stop you from, if you haven’t already, getting on Instagram. Or anywhere else where overlap may or may not occur. Expand the program if it’s the right thing to do for overall strategic goals, but figure out how to make each channel unique, either completely or with something on each channel that’s not duplicated elsewhere.

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2 thoughts on “Facebook the clear winner in Pew’s 2014 Social Media Update

  1. Users sitting back and simply reading Twitter instead of engaging–that’s an interesting point. This caused me to think about it some more and write up a blog post over at mattmaldre.com. 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration, Chris!

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