By Chris Manley, CEO, Engenius
This is part two of a two-part series.
Recently in this column I explored a “faltering Facebook” marked by the first-ever decline in Americans using the service. The next questions I’m frequently asked: “Where is everyone going, and what’s the next up-and-coming social media platform?”
While 3 out of 5 Americans still use Facebook, their active use of the service is on the downswing, making the answer not as simple as many marketers would like. Here are three things we’re learning about social platform usage in the midst of a faltering Facebook:
- Facebook wasn’t the biggest (and isn’t now, either).
The growth of video has continued to surge. This can be attributed to the ease of producing video content and faster internet speeds that deliver video quicker than ever. In 2018, a study showed that 62% of Americans actively used Facebook. A similar 2018 study revealed that 73% of Americans actively used YouTube. Video is huge – and YouTube is home to a vast amount of that content. If you are looking to reach a huge audience (nearly 3 out of 4 adults in America), YouTube is your platform.
- Niche platforms are on the rise.
Perhaps attributable to millennials’ tendencies, social media usage is echoing people’s desire to be less anonymous and have a place where they can feel unique and valued. Usage among social platforms that have more refined interest groups and that have developed a sense of community among users has continued to grow – though none of these platforms boast a majority of the market. A 2017 Pew Research study showed that Instagram is the third-most-popular social media platform behind YouTube and Facebook, but trails both with only 35% of adults actively using it. Pinterest is close behind with 29%, followed by Snapchat at 27%, LinkedIn at 25%, and Twitter at 24%. We have also seen the growth in niche social media platforms catering to very specific interests, like Houzz (a platform for home decorators of all levels), Dribble (a platform for graphic designers), and Untappd (for beer lovers).
- We spend a lot of time on social media.
There was a time when the average number of minutes each American adult spent on social media just kept growing month after month. That seems to have come to an end and social media usage appears to have plateaued at about 45 minutes per day, according to polling group Nielsen. While it may have capped out, three-fourths of an hour is still significant. It’s more time than the average adult spends doing housework, preparing food, managing the household, purchasing things, participating in sports or exercise, and caring for household members (all according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics). Some of the only things we do more of each day are watch TV, sleep, eat, and work. All of this to say: Social media is still a vital communication tool for many. The important thing to consider as a marketer: Find which social platforms your target audience uses, and appeal to them there.
Social media is still a new marketing and advertising avenue for many companies and small businesses. However, we’re starting to see a bit of normalization in how Americans use this form of communication, allowing us to strategize better than ever how to reach people with our messages and calls to action for our own brands and services.