Social Media By The Numbers

A couple of reports were released in the last week that highlight how people are using Social Media – by two well respected research firms. While it is easy to get blinded by the numbers, a look inside can reveal some facts that can help you focus your Social Media marketing strategy.

First, the folks at Nielsen give us their April 2012 Internet usage report. The numbers do not vary much on a month-to-month basis so you can assume what you see here will continue for the foreseeable future. As always, Google gets the most traffic and Facebook gobbles up the most on-line time. The average US Internet user spends about 28 hours a month on-line – about 25% of that time on Facebook!

Yes, with the recent IPO fiasco and the gloom-and-doom reporting of the inefficiency of Facebook advertising you could come to the conclusion that Facebook is a waste of time. Wait, that didn’t come out right. Facebook IS a waste of time but there are a lot of people wasting a lot of time with it. A lot of pundits are quick to rush into the “death of Facebook” conversation. Don’t buy into that. The numbers do not lie. Over 151 million Americans spent the largest share of their on-line time with Facebook.

The trick here is for you to figure out how to capture their attention. Regardless of your message there is an audience on Facebook that is interested in hearing it. You need to figure out a way to deliver what they want. Simple to say, difficult to accomplish. Facebook is a viable way to market your message because the audience is so large.

The second report, in the form of a survey, comes from the folks at Pew InternetTwitter Use 2012.  It appears that Twitter continues to grow. While the percentage of adults who use Twitter has remained relatively static for the last year, their usage patterns have doubled. So, the Twitter devotees have become even more addicted to the platform.

This could lead one to come to the conclusion that Twitter’s importance as a marketing tool has dramatically increased. I say -not so fast. Though the amount of Twitter users numbers in the millions they pale in comparison to those that use Facebook. Because of the 140 character limit it is very difficult to create content that will attract an audience. You’re casting bait into a wide ocean hoping for a bite. It can be done but requires much more effort and deft than Facebook does.

One thing about Twitter that differentiates it from Facebook is the passion. Though Twitter’s audience is smaller they are much more wrapped up in the platform. True Twitter devotees are addicted. This is great for spreading your message because those that Tweet are always looking for something to say.

What you need to do is figure out how to message and connect in brief – but frequent – bursts. If you think coming up with two or three solid Facebook posts a day is challenging – -what do you have up your sleeve for 5 or 6 or more daily tweets?

This is not to say you should not ignore Twitter. Quite the contrary, even if you do not have the time or the content to be a regular Twitter feeder you can still make excellent use of the platform as a listening device. Twitterers love to talk. Listen to them. You may learn something.

All these numbers help put Social Media as a marketing tool into perspective. Spending 28 hours a month on-line is certainly huge. But, remember, the average American spends over 50 hours a month listening to old-fashioned over-the-air radio and over 100 hours a month plopped in front of a TV. Not to mention that more people read email everyday than visit any Social Media site.

It is easy to get blinded by the hype of Social Media. I do believe it is an essential part of any marketing strategy. And, despite the naysayers, has become an integral part of our daily lives. The more facts we can gather on this “new” marketing platform, the better we can use it to our advantage.

Your Thoughts?

Steve Allan, Social Media Specialist


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About Steve Allan

I am a Social Media specialist uniquely focused on the management, messaging and marketing of social media platforms for non-profits and small businesses.
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1 Response to Social Media By The Numbers

  1. Perspective is so important. Great information for us one person departments at nonprofits who struggle to do all the fundraising, outreach, marketing and social media posting we can fit in each day. If we were to believe the media (or our college aged kids) email is dead, but that news is apparently premature.

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