Social Media growth

New Pew report looks at social media demographics among Americans

A new Pew report is out; the report takes a look at social media use in America.  It’s findings, as always, help to illuminate the state of social media.

I would highly recommend that you check out the entire report, but from my perspective at least, here are the major findings and insights:

  • Messaging Apps are growingwith 36% of all smartphone users using such an app, and 17% using an app which automatically deletes a message.  Users of these apps tend to be younger than 29, college educated and live in an urban area.
  • Facebook growth has slowed, but that’s largely a result of it having less room to grow.  Pinterest and Instagram continue to grow at high rates; Twitter’s growth has completely plateaued, and LinkedIn has actually shrunk….?
  • In terms of demographics of specific platforms:
    • Facebook is more popular among women than men.  Users are also young and have high levels of income.
    • Pinterest has the highest gender disparity of all networks (44% of women vs. 16% of men).  It’s users are young, less wealthy than Facebook and more suburban/rural than urban.
    • Instagram is the most popular network for racial minorities.  It’s users are overwhelmingly young.
    • LinkedIn has a strikingly even gender ratio, older users, and the most educated and wealthiest user base.
    • Twitter users are relatively even across important demographic variables, except for geographic location, which skew urban.
  • In terms of frequency of use, Facebook does the best, followed by Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

What does this say about the current state of social media?  A few things:

  • Messaging apps are here to stay and should be used accordingly.
  • Serious demographic disparities exist between all platforms, and your social media use should be tailored accordingly.
  • Facebook is still the undisputed king.

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Key takeaways from Pew’s new social media survey

In the past, I’ve written about Pew Research and their surveys on social media.  Pew has now released an update to their annual social media survey, and there are some very interesting results in here:

  • Facebook growth has topped out from 2013, with 71% of online adults using the platform in 2014 – the same as the previous year.  This might be a matter of the network having simply maxed out – there isn’t much growth left to be had!
    • Engagement on Facebook, however, continues to increase. In 2013, 63% of Facebook users used the site on a daily basis – that number is now 70%.
  • Other networks, however, grew significantly over the past year: LinkedIn 22-28%, Pinterest 21-28%, Instagram 17-26% and Twitter 18-23%.
    • This survey would confirm what others are saying: Instagram is growing very, very fast, and you have to pay attention to it now as an elected official.
    • Pinterest is a female dominated network: 42% of online women use it, with just 13% of online men doing the same.
  • In 2013, 42% of online adults used multiple social networks – that’s now at 52%.
  • Much of the info in this study pertained to online adults. However, check out the statistics among ALL American adults:
    • 58% use Facebook.
    • 23% use LinkedIn (side note – I’d be curious to know what that actually means – I know a lot of people who have a LinkedIn profile but never use the network).
    • 22% use Pinterest.
    • 21% use Instagram.
    • 19% use Twitter (this is fascinating to me, though it’s worth noting that LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram have specific objectives or demographic niches – Twitter has a broader reach).

Anyway, if you use social media extensively, the survey is worth checking out. Some key takeaways for government users:

  • Facebook is still the place to be, and will be for the immediate future.
  • Pinterest is great for accessing a female audience, but the key is content, and that’s a tougher nut to crack: Pinterest content tends to skew towards brands, food and retail, and I don’t know if there is a government place for the network…yet.
  • LinkedIn remains the best for business networking, but again, government uses are still somewhat limited.
  • Instagram users are young – over 90% are under 35 – and that’s a demographic that you need to hit.

Any thoughts to add? Please let me know in the comments!

Can an elected official use LinkedIn with any success?

LinkedIn LogoIf you asked me which social network I used the least (well, second to least, since I barely use Google+), the answer would be LinkedIn.  Part of this is because I’ve always felt LinkedIn was more like a resume and Rolodex on steroids, and I questioned it’s real world use.  I haven’t changed my mind about that, but as I’ve gotten more into social media I’ve tried to make myself give LinkedIn a second look.  After all, it does have more than 300 million members, about 100 million of whom are in the United States, and has tallied an impressive 5.7 billion searches on its website.

So, that being said, here’s my question: Can LinkedIn be used by elected officials?  Yes, I think so.

Professional development
I was involved sales in my previous career, in addition to social media, and I never really used LinkedIn for these purposes; it just always seemed to overt.  I preferred the value-added approach that Facebook, Twitter and blogging provided.  That being said, I did get a great deal out of the various professional development groups that I belonged to, including groups that were oriented around sales, social media or Chamber of Commerce employees.  There are many similar groups out there for elected officials that focus on topics you may be interested in, like economic development or education.  Joining those groups can give you insight into trends in these areas, as well as access to a network of experts that you can use to ask questions about policy and politics.

Local outreach
Following local businesses and connecting with executives can give you a great chance to increase your local outreach.  Those connections are possible on different mediums, but there are still plenty of people out there who only use social media for work – and those people are going to be on LinkedIn. To that end, using LinkedIn gives you a chance to connect with people that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

Business connections
During my time working for the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, I found that there were dozens of local business groups that were dedicated towards networking and event promotion.  The value of many of these groups is questionable at best (all they did was spam each other), but many of these groups were helpful in keeping track of the pulse of the local business community.  To that end, joining these groups is a great way of monitoring what’s happening in your business sector.

…but, it’s a question of resources
You only have so much time in a day, and as I’ve argued before, it is possible for an elected official to use social media too much.  To that end, you can get more of a bang for your buck on other networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  So, my recommendation is this: use LinkedIn sparingly, if at all.

Agree or disagree?  Give us your thoughts in the comments!