The State of Social Media: A Comprehensive Guide on How Social Media is Used Today (2019)
Social media is a constant river of change. Whether it’s the users, the platform, or the content being shared, it is evolving relentlessly. We’re steadily into 2019 and there are a lot of new trends hitting the surface and innovative ways users are utilizing social media.
To help you better understand how social media is used today, this article will cover a comprehensive guide on each social media platform, how social media is being used, and how you can use social media for your benefit on these platforms:
We hope you’ll find this information useful and incorporate it into your social media strategy!
Facebook has long been the powerhouse of social media. It’s the most popular search term and has also become so ingrained in our society that it has even become a verb. It’s no doubt Facebook is the top platform for marketers as 30% of them think Facebook offers the highest digital ad ROI and Facebook e-commerce click-through rates have tripled over the last two years.
Key Stats and Demographics
Now that we’ve established how Facebook is basically the most beloved social media platform, let’s get to the demographics.
We see you, millennials.
However, the number of American Facebook users aged 65+ has doubled to 41%, but only half of Gen Z uses Facebook – a notable drop from three years ago.
This is to say the majority of Facebook users are young adults with the majority being female. 53% of users, to be exact.
A lot has changed since the early days of Facebook.
There’s more to connecting with people on Facebook than through its News Feed. More than 200 million people are members of meaningful groups on Facebook. These are communities that users can join that become an important part of the Facebook experience and real-world social infrastructures.
For example, these meaningful groups include groups for new parents, for people with rare diseases, those interested in volunteering, and more. These groups have also evolved, stemming from a personal identifier to more abstract themes, like particular interests (cats) and humor (memes).
Additionally, Facebook users participate in a lot of dark social and unfortunately, dark social is not as mystical as it sounds. It’s a term used by marketers and SEO specialists to describe website referrals that are difficult to track.
Dark social traffic is the result of people sharing website links through text messages, private chats, and sometimes email. And a lot of it happens on Facebook.
Facebook is still a platform for content, whether it’s to create it, share it, or react to it. However, diverging from its early days of being solely for personal content, 43% of Americans get their news from Facebook and 78% of American consumers have discovered retail products to buy on Facebook.
Facebook is making it easier for users to connect in a more meaningful and targeted way and dark social traffic is rising due to the result of people sharing links through private chats.
Images are by far the most popular social media content, with videos coming in a hot second. Online video viewing has increased with 150 million people now using Facebook Stories.
That being said, the biggest trend to focus on with Facebook is video content.
Video content is growing and is an integral part of Facebook marketing. Live videos are gaining traction and their authentic nature makes them especially attractive and meaningful to social media users.
Live video offers an opportunity for brands looking to promote honesty and authenticity in order to build trust.
Facebook Live broadcasts quadrupled over the past year.
There’s also growth in augmented reality and virtual reality on Facebook. While still small, this type of content will surely catch consumers eyes.
The most notable and fastest growing trends are the usage of:
- Press and hold videos – which allow users to press a photo before taking them to a video or image slideshow
- 360 photos – considered to be a form of VR that creates a more immersive brand experience
- And of course, Facebook Live
Founded in 2010 and acquired by Facebook in 2012, Instagram has quickly risen to popularity; I mean with 1 billion users it’s hard to say it’s not popular.
In addition to being a popular platform, it keeps its users very active:
This image-centered platform has half its users checking it every day.
Key Stats and Demographics
It’s not only a US-centric platform, either. 80% of users are outside the US. For users in the US, 39% are female, while 30% are male. This gap has slightly decreased over the past years as well, and it’s only getting smaller.
This platform is more popular with younger audiences as 50% of users are under 30 and 72% of teens use Instagram every day. Only 35% of online adults use Instagram and the majority of them are from the US.
Instagram has also rolled out a lot of new features that promote more interaction and communication between users. As no surprise, we see the 24 hour “Story” feature and “Live on Instagram” feature. If you just so happen to have an amazing Story, there’s an option to save Stories onto your profile with the “Story Highlights” feature.
This is a great way to promote blog posts, events, and products. It’s also a perfect way to show the authenticity of your company with personable posts and videos.
Instagram Direct is another feature that allows users to privately share images, videos, and message each other. This is another area for dark social to seep its way into this platform; however, this time, you can see through Instagram Business analytics how many people shared your image through Instagram Direct.
Another feature that promotes interaction is Instagram Questions. This allows followers to interact with the page by answering questions. This feature has also been allowing for easier Q&A’s for more transparency between brands and consumers.
Instagram’s newest feature is Close Friends. This allows you to create a list of specific people you can share private Stories and posts too. A perfect way to set up exclusive content for services and long-term members.
Instagram is also great for e-commerce businesses as 72% of users have bought a product they saw on Instagram.
Ready for some quick Insta stats?
- 80% of users follow at least one business
- 60% of users discover products on Instagram
- 75% of users take action on these products
- 70% look up brands on Instagram
- 90% of the top 100 brands are on Instagram
So, let’s just say you have some reasons to invest in Instagram for your business.
Now let’s talk about #hashtags. An Instagram post with at least ONE hashtag averages 12.6% more engagement than a post without any.
Hashtags are powerful. They can expand your reach, attract target audiences, increase engagement, and develop a more positive and recognizable brand image.
So, what are hashtags anyway?
Hashtags are essentially Instagram’s sorting process. Instagram has around 95 million photos posted every day so it’s quite difficult for Instagram to efficiently deliver the right content to the right people. Hashtags help your post get discovered by viewers most interested in it. Essentially, it’s a way to categorize your posts and help users find relevant posts, easier.
Many of the latest trends on Instagram will come from using new types of engagement. As mentioned above, Instagram Questions is a form of interaction and engagement.
Businesses should be looking for engagement beyond likes, such as shares and comments.
Instagram Stories, much like Facebook Stories, is still beloved. But, if you want to stay on top, take a look at the stickers.
Bonus: You can create brand stickers for your followers and fans to use in their stories!
Authenticity on Instagram for a brand is huge. Some ways to show authenticity include:
- Relating to the average user
- Showing transparency
- Admitting mistakes
Another trend to demonstrate authenticity is working with micro-influencers (2,000 – 50,000 followers) and nano-influencers (1,000 – 5,000 followers). Brands are preferring to work with average users over large influencers to promote that authenticity.
There’s also a rise of ~dark social~ with Instagram Direct.
Thanks to the reply, tagging, and sharing features on Instagram stories, it’s easier than ever to strike up a private conversation with someone on Instagram!
And if posting stories weren’t enough, there’s IGTV, which is basically like YouTube for Instagram. Videos are built like how you actually use your phone, so full-screen, vertical. No more trying to film horizontally! Similar to normal TV, IGTV has channels, but the creators are the channels.
Now go out there and hashtag your way to the top of Instagram!
LinkedIn is the B2B social media goldmine. This is the preferred platform for Fortune 500 decision-makers and executives. On the other end, LinkedIn is becoming a great channel for new grads, marketers, and professionals of every caliber.
Key Stats and Demographics
LinkedIn now has over 590 million members with 260 million logging in each month. Of those active users, 61 million are senior level influencers and 40 million are in decision making positions. LinkedIn is a great way to network and get ideas to the top, with statistics like these.
This platform is becoming quite the place for all, with females making up 44% of users. LinkedIn also has 87 million millennial users, and, of those millennials, 11 million are decision makers and 46 million are students and recent college graduates.
It’s no doubt that LinkedIn is becoming popular for new grads and young professionals with a study finding that 122 million users were invited to an interview through LinkedIn. 35.5 million people also reported being hired by someone they connected with over LinkedIn. Keep that in mind next time you think posting a picture of your friend’s bachelorette party on there…
To get people to view your LinkedIn profile and send a message, upload a picture! Profiles with photos get 14 times the views and 36 times the messages than profiles without a photo. As long as you have a picture, you’re on the right track.
LinkedIn is the place to connect. The median number of LinkedIn connections per user is somewhere between 500-999 – that’s more connections than the friends I have on Facebook.
Content plays a large part in LinkedIn’s usage, apart from professional networking. LinkedIn Pulse is a built-in news app that powers a lot of content you see on LinkedIn’s homepage feed. It is delivered to millions of users via email, and it now has its own organic content in which more than 1 million members have published to.
LinkedIn SlideShare is a hosting service for professional content including presentations, infographics, documents, and videos. Since its launch in October 2006, SlideShare has 18 million pieces of content uploaded. It’s presumable that content marketing also comes into play when we have this platform growing for professionals of all kind.
LinkedIn is the number one channel B2B marketers use to distribute content. 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn compared to Twitter at 89%, Facebook and YouTube at 77%, and Google+ at 61%.
LinkedIn also has groups you can join and share content with. These established communities for thought leaders and relevant prospects mean you can pinpoint your target audience and share content based on their pain points and interests.
There are 9 billion content impressions in the LinkedIn feed every week.
The opportunity to be seen most definitely exists if you share content constantly. Even with this large impression of content, only 3 million users share content weekly. 91% of marketing executives list LinkedIn as the top place to find quality content and 92% of B2B marketers include LinkedIn in their digital marketing mix.
The best B2B marketers have bought into LinkedIn’s potential.
Of all content, long-form gets the most shares. How-to and list posts perform the best and posts that split into 5, 7, or 9 headings are best. The best titles stay in the 40-49-character range. The articles with exactly 8 images outperform the rest by far and articles without video perform better than those with.
Video is the most shared content on LinkedIn. You can use videos to tell a story, use compelling visuals, speak to your audience’s emotions, and maintain consistent branding.
Hashtags are appearing even on LinkedIn.
To give your posts a more original and branded touch, you can use custom hashtags but stick to no more than 5-6 per post. They can be used at the end of your post or incorporated within the content!
You can also include hashtags on your LinkedIn company page as well and weave them into your comments. LinkedIn provides a way to monitor hashtags for new opportunities by following the hashtag you’re interested in.
Despite what some people think, Twitter continues to maintain its status as a popular social media platform. Whether it’s the latest news or the latest memes, this microblogging platform has it all.
500 million tweets are sent each day and that’s like what: 5,787 tweets a second?!
Key Stats and Demographics
As most of you might already know, Twitter is also the number one platform for government leaders. 97% of all 193 UN member states have an official presence on the platform. Although, its performance in the US is slightly lacking when only 24% of US adults use Twitter.
The average Twitter user has 707 followers, but 391 million accounts have no followers. That might have to do with the fact that although there’s a total of 1.3 billion Twitter accounts, only 328 million are active.
But out of those active accounts, 325 million people use Twitter every month and about 80% of these users are not US based. The ages of users vary the most on Twitter compared to other social media platforms. You can definitely find millennials on the platform, as well as some in that under-50 group.
While Twitter might not be a very “social” network, 71% of users are using it for news, which I guess is kind of good since 31% of people are more likely to recall what they saw on Twitter. For marketers, 75% of B2B businesses market on Twitter and 65% of B2C businesses.
Twitter is a great way for brands and high-profile individuals to be a part of the conversation and vice versa.
People are more likely to complain and share their grievances on this platform; however, only 3% of customers will mention you when they complain, so don’t @ us, please.
Ads on Twitter do very well as they are 11% more effective than TV ads during live events and 40% of users said they have made a purchase because of an influencers’ tweet. Twitter ads are only growing. There was a 50% increase in ad engagements between October 2017 and October 2018.
Since 85% of small and medium business users use Twitter to provide customer service, it’s only logical to assume customer care is going to be a huge trend for Twitter. Customer care bots are evolving and will continue to rise, and social care strategies are getting more personal. Companies are focusing on more human interactions while adopting a more casual tone and using emojis. Customer care is becoming the new marketing by working hand in hand with customer interactions and making them more public.
While it might seem like a slowly dying platform, there’s still a lot of things Twitter can offer for businesses.
We’ve been talking about the surge in popularity with videos for consumers and we’re finally going to talk about the video platform: YouTube.
Let’s start with a little #ThrowbackThursday for YouTube (it was Thursday when I wrote this):
- The domain name “YouTube.com” was activated on February 14, 2005
- The first YouTube video was uploaded on April 23, 2005 titled Me at the Zoo. This video shows co-founder Jawed Karim at the San Diego Zoo.
- On October 9, 2006, Google announced they would purchase YouTube for $1.65 billion.
- The first ads were rolled out in August 2007
- In May 2010, YouTube had more than 2 billion views a day.
- YouTube first streamed the US Presidential debates in 2012.
- By March 2013, YouTube was seeing 1 billion monthly active users.
Key Stats and Demographics
96% of 18 to 24-year-old American internet users use YouTube and essentially every Gen Z-er with an internet connection is on the platform. Meanwhile, traditional TV is on the decline. Darn millennials are killing the cable companies!
However, YouTube is not only popular with the younger generation, but half of the American internet users aged 75 and over use YouTube as well.
YouTube is the second most-visited website in existence and only 15.8% of YouTube’s visitors are American. On top of videos, YouTube provides almost half of all on-demand.
More than 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute and over 1 billion hours are watched per day.
Without getting into YouTube politics, YouTube caters to its content creators, rather than the viewers. They understand that a minority of content creators are driving the majority of the views, so they do their best to take care of such creators.
Features to definitely pay attention to are:
- YouTube VR: after launching the Daydream View headset, YouTube VR features the newest VR-ready videos.
- YouTube Stories: popularized by Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook, Stories are available to Community users (users with over 10,000 subscribers) and can be watched from the top of a YouTube user’s Subscriptions feed.
- YouTube Premiere: content creators can upload pre-recorded videos as a live moment and YouTube will automatically create a public landing page to build anticipation and hype about the content.
- YouTube Premium: formerly YouTube Red, allows subscribers to access YouTube without ads and allows videos to play in the background.
- YouTube OG: formerly YouTube Red Originals, hosts YouTube original content created by YouTube’s existing royalty.
- YouTube Gaming: a separate page that focuses on the gaming community and culture, connecting users with games and players from all over the world.
- YouTube Music: gives subscribers access to just about everything they could ever want in terms of music to albums, live performances, remixes, covers, and music videos.
- YouTube TV: introduced in February 2017, this was created in response to viewers’ changing needs. Including a total of 40 channels, YouTube TV gives subscribers access to TV live streaming from popular channels.
YouTube has definitely kept up with the demand from users by creating these unique features based on users’ wants and needs.
For marketers, TrueView ads, ads that give viewers the ability to choose which video ads they want to watch and when are very effective. Viewers who finish watching these ads were 23 times more likely to interact with that brand channel. Viewers who were still exposed to the TrueView ads, but didn’t watch them, are still 10 times more likely to engage with the brand.
The video trend is rising more than ever and it’s not going away any time soon. It’s best to be like YouTube and improvise, adapt, and overcome.
News came out that Google+ for consumers will be shutting down in April 2019 due in part to a security flaw that exposed the personal information of 52.5 million Google+ users in November 2018. This social network launched in 2011 and was meant to be a social layer across Google’s products and, despite what many might believe, it remained a strong staple in the world of social networks, ranking #5!
Key Stats and Demographics
Over the 8 years it existed, there were over 395 million monthly active users and over 2 billion registered users. 28% of Google+ users were between 15 and 34 and the US alone makes up 55% of all their users while 74% of the users are male and 26% are female. On average users spent 3 minutes and 46 seconds per visit.
In 2016, around 91% of Google+ accounts were empty, meaning they were likely created for access to other Google services or as spam accounts.
For businesses, Google+ became a crucial tool because of its connection to all of Google’s online services. If a business didn’t have a Google+ account, they were missing out on a lot.
Google+ allows businesses to update business listings, add photos, and share content that makes their page more valuable, all on the Google My Business dashboard. All of the information is pulled directly into Google’s business listing for brand searches.
Technically, Google My Business is separate from Google+ but uses the same platform, which is a super sneaky way for Google to keep Google+ valued.
You can never have enough platforms under your belt and Google+ is another way to rank higher and provide visibility to your brand. But I wouldn’t count on using Google+ as part of a viable social media strategy moving forward.
Google is a lot of things, an important platform for businesses, a way to connect, but ultimately it’s a search engine and not a social media platform. Google+, you will be missed.
Press F to pay respects.
Snapchat was created out of a regrettable posted photo, which I’m sure most of us have experienced, and the little ghost mascot on the logo of Snapchat is known as “Ghostface Chillah”, inspired by the Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah.
If these facts didn’t seem millennial/Gen Z enough, then 🤷🏻. Let’s take a look into Snapchat because this is the platform to use if you want to reach the younger crowd.
Key Stats and Demographics
71% of Snapchat users are under 34 years old and this is a female dominated platform at 70%. 63% of users access the platform daily and people under the age of 25 use Snapchat for 40 minutes on average every day with active Snapchatters opening the app 25 times daily.
More than 400 million Snapchat stories are created every day and 60% of active users create new content on a daily basis.
This popular platform has been evolving to add significant improvements to advertisers and marketers, making it more appealing to work with.
Businesses benefit from marketing via Snapchat and given the performance results some brands are seeing, it may be worth your time as well! 55% of Snapchat users follow one or more brands and 57% of brand content is video.
Yes, video is still a thing. There is also a very high purchase intent on Snapchat, being 11% compared to the average 5% on other social media platforms.
Snapchat is a great way to reach the younger generation. Snapchat’s Discover tab permits you to create short video content that differs from Stories. It’s more like short films. Stories are a great way to reach out to consumers and allow for a different way for customers to interact with products or your brand.
There are also a few different ways, other than videos, you can use to advertise on Snapchat.
There are ads, which are pretty basic. These are video ads that play when Snapchat users are flipping through their friends’ Stories. Ads are usually skippable, but non-skippable ads rolled out recently.
You can create and purchase sponsored filters, which are branded filters that can be overlaid on any Snapchat user’s Snaps. This makes it so not only the user is seeing your ad, but also people that receive their snaps using it.
On-demand geofilters are another way to advertise and are far less expensive than sponsored filters. It only costs $5 and increases in price as you choose a larger location radius. This targets specific geolocations and works similarly to filters.
It’s pretty hard to ignore millennials and Gen Z with advertising as they are the buying power of the future. Snapchat is a great way to reach the younger generation and can flex your creativity!
Pinterest is a great platform to discover and share new ideas and brands. Although it seemingly gets passed over and no one really talks about it, 63% of millennial users mentioned this platform helps them discover new brands or products to buy.
Key Stats and Demographics
There are 250 million active monthly users and over 175 billion pins and it’s only growing every year! 1 out of 2 US millennials uses Pinterest every month. They also say Pinterest inspires them to make their dreams a reality, more than any other platform. This inspiring platform has 81% of Pinterest users identifying as female.
With all these pins, around 5% of all referral traffic to websites comes from Pinterest. Pinterest is also mobile friendly with 80% of users preferring the mobile app over the desktop.
So how exactly are consumers using Pinterest? 87% of users have purchased a product because of this platform and 93% have used it to plan a future purchase. People referred by Pinterest are 10 times more likely to make a purchase from an e-commerce site with those purchases averaging around $50.
To successfully use Pinterest as a part of your advertising strategy, add the “Pin It” button to all your site’s images. This makes it easy for your visitors to share your work and to bookmark content that they like.
Don’t forget about the 500-character description beneath the pin. You can easily add descriptions and prices if applicable. Definitely add prices, though, since according to Shopify, pins with prices get 36% more likes than those without.
Many businesses pass over this great platform that inspires and uncovers new brands and products. A small change of adding Pinterest buttons to photos will drive traffic and purchases to your business. This is something you don’t want to miss out on.
Congratulations! You have made it to the end of Red Egg Marketing’s crash course on social media and how it’s used. Now share this post so others can get bombarded by these social media insights and don’t forget to like, share, and follow us on our own social media!