Age Concerns: Social Networks for Specific Demographics Part 2

This two-part article looks at the demographics of the major social networks and analyse how and why people are using them. Read Part 1 here

Twitter

Despite Twitter’s growth being slower than they’d hoped, the 302 million monthly active users there have plenty to say, generating 500 million tweets (updates) every day. To the unfamiliar, this presents a barrage of distraction and irrelevant banality but with over 2 billion Twitter searches daily, there is evidence to suggest that more people are tapping into the tweets and conversations occurring there. It is a good reminder that social networks are becoming search engines – a place where people seek information and answers.

While 47% of 16-24 year olds are active Twitter users, that number drops rapidly with people aged 35+. Regardless of age however, Twitter is also a place where visibility of content is often misconstrued, with inappropriate comments often leading to disciplinary or even legal action. Unless you have a Protected Account, assume that every piece of content you post there (other than Direct Messages) is visible.

 

Google+

Despite 39% of the online population in the UK having a Google+ profile, there is plenty of debate as to its purpose, usefulness and indeed, of its shelf life. Launched 4 years ago as a direct competitor to the likes of Facebook, it has since evolved and even been partially dismantled with several of its features detached into standalone products.

The intent appears to have endured though: to make Google+ the fabric of your Google experience, with many other Google’s products woven in. Commenting on a YouTube video, for example, requires you to do so through your Google+ account. It’s this integration that skews the 540 million monthly active users that Google reported; in reality, almost half of those never actually visit Google+. Despite low user engagement, this is a network owned by the company that dominates search and is a cornerstone of the internet; it’s this fact that at the very least warrants having a page for your business there.

 

Instagram

Photo-sharing network, Instagram, which offers its users simple photo-editing tools grew by 50% between March and December 2014, exceeding the 300 million-user mark and overtaking Twitter in the process.

With usage at 41% among those aged 16-24 and at 35% among 24-34s, users typically spend 21 minutes per day using Instagram. Research by SocialBakers reveals that when compared to Twitter, brands receive almost 50 times more engagement with consumers on Instagram, suggesting that users there are passionate about the businesses and brands they chose to connect with.

 

It would appear that engagement should play a key part in our objectives when deciding to develop a presence on a network. Thankfully, ways of measuring engagement is becoming evermore sophisticated – Facebook have started to look at passive engagement to account for the times when we’re interested enough to read a post or update but don’t necessarily feel it requires a share, like or comment and will do this by measuring the time spent looking at these posts.

What next for social networks? The answer is short and sweet: video. Nearly all the noted networks have integrated the ability to upload video content and for good reason; for the first time in June 2014, Facebook (12.3 billion) played more videos than YouTube (11.3 billion). Furthermore, online video grew 33% in 2014, and is forecast to grow 29% year-on-year to 2017. At the heart of this appetite for video consumption is the need to capture our audiences’ attention – are you doing enough to do just that?

 

Tom Stables

Tom is the Creative Director of 3ManFactory, a leading integrated marketing agency based the North West and lectures at the University of Central Lancashire in areas including digital marketing and online reputation management.

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