April 8, 2020

We’ve been on Social Media for 10 years straight…

Ten years ago, this past month, we wrote a blog on social media. Now, we thought we’d update it, especially since our old blog was resurfaced by BroadbandSearch, who wrote a piece with some great quant updates.
Twenty years ago, social media was just becoming a thing. Many people didn’t know what it was, let alone how to use it. Facebook didn’t even exist.  Scary, we know. 
Now, most use social media daily, for everything from staying connected, to finding a job, to getting the latest news — or questionably-PC memes. 
Ten years ago, people spent an average of 7 hours per month on Facebook. Today, the average time spent is almost an hour A DAY — 30+ hours a month. AND an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes per person per day across ALL channels. In fact, the average 16 to 24-year-old spends about 3 hours a day on social — so…90 minutes on Kardashian updates?
According to a Pew Research Center study, Facebook still has the highest daily use across the platforms, with 74% of study participants visiting daily.  63% of those participants also visit Snapchat daily, and 60% visit Instagram. The Facebook Family of apps (Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp) have 6.341 billion monthly users.
On the commerce side, more than 80 million small businesses around the world use Facebook Pages (Facebook, 2018) — even though the algorithm only shows ads to 5% or less of a brands/business followers. Note that, marketers?  Yes, they’d prefer you sponsor your posts, thank you. 
That said, 78 percent of American consumers have discovered retail products to buy via Facebook (Kleiner Perkins, 2018) — so it’s no wonder 86 percent of US marketers are using Facebook for advertising.
So what are the learnings?
  1. Social momentum: ain’t going away, but it’s become more like TV in its mass-blast-ness, so may become less effective in impact given the breadth AND change in what actually gets ‘shared’ in channel clamp-down
  2. Social winners: the big, smart channels do dominate — and those who acquire well (Facebook) stay at the top,10 years hence, and a lot of dead sites later
  3. Social’ beings’: Personality and/or user-driven content still defines the space — so, for brands, while promos and giveaways are still enticing, support from actual personalities, celebrity or not, is critical, as people don’t really consistently ‘seek out’ brands on social channels 
  4. Social purpose: for brands, it’s still about awareness vs. transactions, even though coming from a digital realm; SO having a personality to add life, to entertain, to inform; OR to leverage a message or voice that’s more focused than the brand’s ‘bigger’ paid media — including cause-related support 
For marketers, social is NOT a panacea. Many brands still don’t understand it, but either feel the need to be there because many others are, OR view it as a relatively low-cost outlet compared to broadcast. We’d not recommend either mindset.
However, if one can latch on to a NEW channel or one coming into its own, it’s possible to catch fire.
The biggest social start-up of the last few years as you’ve likely heard? TikTok. With its 800 million+ active users, it’s quickly becoming one of the most popular channels, especially with the younger set. And while there are questions about its security and mode, given it’s a Chinese offering, TikTok was the most downloaded app on the Apple App Store last year, with 33 million downloads in Q1 of 2019 alone, according to SensorTower.  
So — let’s check back ten years from now in 2030, and see how social we all are — at that distance.