social media

Social media: why people really use it

GlobalWebIndex is a U.K.-based company that claims to run the world’s largest market research study on the digital consumer. Its latest quarterly report on social network trends asked almost 42,000 adults in 32 countries — i.e., nearly 90% of the global internet audience — a battery of questions. Their responses give some good food for thought, especially when it comes to a fundamental question which I’ll paraphrase: why are you on social media in the first place?

Let me start by killing the suspense: no one seems to have answered, “Why, to see more ads, of course!” No surprise there. In fact, if data from Media Dynamics Inc. is correct…

social media content

…and we assume the average ad is 30 seconds long, then adults are already being exposed to about 3 hours worth of advertising every day. That’s no small amount! While people may have grudgingly accepted the presence of so much marketing as the price of consuming media, it’s good to remember the real reasons why they are on social media in the first place.

Which is why these nuggets of info from GWI are so valuable. Here is what each age-group states as the reasons for why they use social media:

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Which of these age-groups relate to your customers and what can you take away when it comes to using social media to engage with them? If I might paraphrase again:

Ages 16-24: “Entertain us”
Ages 25-34: “Hold up the mirror for us”
Ages 35-44: “Help us get ahead professionally”
Ages 45-64: “Help us stay in touch with loved ones”

This is perhaps best viewed as a spectrum, as opposed to firm silos. It also suggests how a company might orient its social media content strategy. While the fact remains that people don’t use social media to be marketed to, if you keep these priorities in mind your brand might just manage to make some new friends.