Pew Research report finds changes in the state of social media marketing

By Patti Rowlson
Contributing writer

In January, the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan organization that analyzes global issues and trends, published a report on the state of social media, which includes data compiled between 2012 and 2014.

The report detailed many interesting statistics on how social media can be used to reach a desired audience. Below are some of the best takeaways from the research, along with thoughts for how this information could impact local small businesses.

Is Facebook still viable?

While its growth leveled off between 2013 and 2014, Facebook remains the most popular social media site. Seventy-one percent of online adults (58 percent of the entire adult population) use Facebook, which is up from 67 percent in 2012. Seventy percent of users visit the site daily.

Tip: These numbers are significant! When used properly, Facebook is still a powerful marketing tool for small businesses. I have seen local companies have measurable success with paid ads on Facebook – they are still able to increase follower base and expand the reach of shared posts. Don’t give up on Facebook, but do establish a budget and learn how to use its ad manager.

Look at other options

Social networking sites like Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn also saw significant increases in users between 2012 and 2014. LinkedIn rose from being used by 20 percent of internet users to being used by 28 percent. Instagram rose from 13 percent to 26 percent and Twitter went from 16 percent to 23 percent. One interesting fact about Twitter use – the number of male users and users with annual household incomes of more than $50,000 significantly increased. So did the amount of Twitter users who live in urban areas and are college graduates.

Tip: Facebook is not the only game in town. Consider having key members of your management team create LinkedIn profiles. Also consider whether your business would be a good fit for Instagram’s demographic or re visit your company’s Twitter account that may have been abandoned two years ago. Your target market may not have used Twitter back than, but they might now.

Embrace social variety

Multi-platform use is on the rise—52 percent of online adults now use two or more social media sites. That number was 42 percent in 2013. Facebook is considered their “home base” or primary account, and they dabble with other sites like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Tip: Diversify! But don’t jump on all the social platforms without a plan for content and consistent maintenance of each site. Understand your consumers and learn to use the social media platforms they are choosing to use daily, not just the ones you are comfortable with.

Age may be more important than ever

More than half of all online adults age 65 and older use Facebook and half of internet users between the ages of 18 and 29 use Instagram.

Tip: Companies that know the age range of customers should focus social media marketing efforts on the platforms being used by those consumers.  If customers are in the 40-and-older crowd, now may not be the right time to invest resources into Instagram. Instead, try the paid advertising program on Facebook that allows targeting by age.

We’ve all heard the phrase “knowledge is power,” right? The Pew Research Report provides business owners and marketers with the information needed to make powerful decisions about social media marketing. Those hungry to learn more can find a free copy of the Pew Research Report online.

Patti Rowlson is a marketing consultant and social media manager at PR Consulting, Inc. She helps Whatcom County small businesses identify, implement and consistently maintain marketing-related programs. Learn more about small-business marketing by connecting with PR Consulting on social media sites or by visiting www.pattirowlson.com.

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