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Social media use in 2021, a majority of americans say they use youtube and facebook, while use of instagram, snapchat and tiktok is especially common among adults under 30..
To better understand Americans’ use of social media, online platforms and messaging apps, Pew Research Center surveyed 1,502 U.S. adults from Jan. 25 to Feb. 8, 2021, by cellphone and landline phone. The survey was conducted by interviewers under the direction of Abt Associates and is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, education and other categories. Here are the questions used for this report , along with responses, and its methodology .
Despite a string of controversies and the public’s relatively negative sentiments about aspects of social media, roughly seven-in-ten Americans say they ever use any kind of social media site – a share that has remained relatively stable over the past five years, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults.
Beyond the general question of overall social media use, the survey also covers use of individual sites and apps. YouTube and Facebook continue to dominate the online landscape, with 81% and 69%, respectively, reporting ever using these sites. And YouTube and Reddit were the only two platforms measured that saw statistically significant growth since 2019 , when the Center last polled on this topic via a phone survey.
When it comes to the other platforms in the survey, 40% of adults say they ever use Instagram and about three-in-ten report using Pinterest or LinkedIn. One-quarter say they use Snapchat, and similar shares report being users of Twitter or WhatsApp. TikTok – an app for sharing short videos – is used by 21% of Americans, while 13% say they use the neighborhood-focused platform Nextdoor.
Even as other platforms do not nearly match the overall reach of YouTube or Facebook, there are certain sites or apps, most notably Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok, that have an especially strong following among young adults. In fact, a majority of 18- to 29-year-olds say they use Instagram (71%) or Snapchat (65%), while roughly half say the same for TikTok.
These findings come from a nationally representative survey of 1,502 U.S. adults conducted via telephone Jan. 25-Feb.8, 2021.
With the exception of YouTube and Reddit, most platforms show little growth since 2019
YouTube is the most commonly used online platform asked about in this survey, and there’s evidence that its reach is growing. Fully 81% of Americans say they ever use the video-sharing site, up from 73% in 2019. Reddit was the only other platform polled about that experienced statistically significant growth during this time period – increasing from 11% in 2019 to 18% today.
Facebook’s growth has leveled off over the last five years, but it remains one of the most widely used social media sites among adults in the United States: 69% of adults today say they ever use the site, equaling the share who said this two years prior.
Similarly, the respective shares of Americans who report using Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Twitter and WhatsApp are statistically unchanged since 2019 . This represents a broader trend that extends beyond the past two years in which the rapid adoption of most of these sites and apps seen in the last decade has slowed. (This was the first year the Center asked about TikTok via a phone poll and the first time it has surveyed about Nextdoor.)
Adults under 30 stand out for their use of Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok
When asked about their social media use more broadly – rather than their use of specific platforms – 72% of Americans say they ever use social media sites.
In a pattern consistent with past Center studies on social media use, there are some stark age differences. Some 84% of adults ages 18 to 29 say they ever use any social media sites, which is similar to the share of those ages 30 to 49 who say this (81%). By comparison, a somewhat smaller share of those ages 50 to 64 (73%) say they use social media sites, while fewer than half of those 65 and older (45%) report doing this.
These age differences generally extend to use of specific platforms, with younger Americans being more likely than their older counterparts to use these sites – though the gaps between younger and older Americans vary across platforms.
Majorities of 18- to 29-year-olds say they use Instagram or Snapchat and about half say they use TikTok, with those on the younger end of this cohort – ages 18 to 24 – being especially likely to report using Instagram (76%), Snapchat (75%) or TikTok (55%). 1 These shares stand in stark contrast to those in older age groups. For instance, while 65% of adults ages 18 to 29 say they use Snapchat, just 2% of those 65 and older report using the app – a difference of 63 percentage points.
Additionally, a vast majority of adults under the age of 65 say they use YouTube. Fully 95% of those 18 to 29 say they use the platform, along with 91% of those 30 to 49 and 83% of adults 50 to 64. However, this share drops substantially – to 49% – among those 65 and older.
By comparison, age gaps between the youngest and oldest Americans are narrower for Facebook. Fully 70% of those ages 18 to 29 say they use the platform, and those shares are statistically the same for those ages 30 to 49 (77%) or ages 50 to 64 (73%). Half of those 65 and older say they use the site – making Facebook and YouTube the two most used platforms among this older population.
Other sites and apps stand out for their demographic differences:
- Instagram: About half of Hispanic (52%) and Black Americans (49%) say they use the platform, compared with smaller shares of White Americans (35%) who say the same. 2
- WhatsApp: Hispanic Americans (46%) are far more likely to say they use WhatsApp than Black (23%) or White Americans (16%). Hispanics also stood out for their WhatsApp use in the Center’s previous surveys on this topic.
- LinkedIn: Those with higher levels of education are again more likely than those with lower levels of educational attainment to report being LinkedIn users. Roughly half of adults who have a bachelor’s or advanced degree (51%) say they use LinkedIn, compared with smaller shares of those with some college experience (28%) and those with a high school diploma or less (10%).
- Pinterest: Women continue to be far more likely than men to say they use Pinterest when compared with male counterparts, by a difference of 30 points (46% vs. 16%).
- Nextdoor: There are large differences in use of this platform by community type. Adults living in urban (17%) or suburban (14%) areas are more likely to say they use Nextdoor. Just 2% of rural Americans report using the site.
A majority of Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram users say they visit these platforms on a daily basis
While there has been much written about Americans’ changing relationship with Facebook , its users remain quite active on the platform. Seven-in-ten Facebook users say they use the site daily, including 49% who say they use the site several times a day. (These figures are statistically unchanged from those reported in the Center’s 2019 survey about social media use.)
Smaller shares – though still a majority – of Snapchat or Instagram users report visiting these respective platforms daily (59% for both). And being active on these sites is especially common for younger users. For instance, 71% of Snapchat users ages 18 to 29 say they use the app daily, including six-in-ten who say they do this multiple times a day. The pattern is similar for Instagram: 73% of 18- to 29-year-old Instagram users say they visit the site every day, with roughly half (53%) reporting they do so several times per day.
YouTube is used daily by 54% if its users, with 36% saying they visit the site several times a day. By comparison, Twitter is used less frequently, with fewer than half of its users (46%) saying they visit the site daily.
- Due to a limited sample size, figures for those ages 25 to 29 cannot be reported on separately. ↩
- There were not enough Asian American respondents in the sample to be broken out into a separate analysis. As always, their responses are incorporated into the general population figures throughout this report. ↩
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About Pew Research Center Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research Center does not take policy positions. It is a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts .
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Social media marketing gains importance after Covid-19
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2. literature review, 3. research methods, 4. data analysis, 5. marketing implications, 6. limitations, 7. future research recommendations, 8. conclusions, acknowledgements, additional information.
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This exploratory research examines how the COVID-19 pandemic led to increases in consumers’ social media marketing behaviors in the United States (U.S.). Previous research on the impact of a pandemic has focused on behavior for preventive health, however, little attention has been given to the impact of a pandemic on consumer behaviors. To bridge this gap, the Consumer Decision-Making Model was used as a framework to investigate changes in consumers’ social media behaviors as they preform various consumer decision-making processes. More specifically, a questionnaire was used to collect survey data from 327 U.S. consumers. Analysis of Variance tests were performed to examine mean differences in consumers’ use of social media as a consumer decision-making tool. The findings showed that consumers have increased their utilization of social media as a tool for identifying products, collecting information on products, evaluating products, and making product purchases. Thus, the findings demonstrate the growing importance of social media marketing since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Given that the COVID-19 pandemic is a global phenomenon, the findings likely can be extrapolated across many nations. Suggestions are provided to help businesses adopt to changes in consumers’ social media behaviors as they relate to the consumer decision-making processes.
- social media
- consumer behaviors
Early in 2020, the U.S. began to experience a healthcare pandemic from a novel coronavirus commonly known as COVID-19. Previous research on the impact of a pandemic has focused on behavior for preventive health, however, little attention has been given to the impact of a pandemic on consumer behaviors. To bridge this gap, the Consumer Decision-Making Model was used as a framework to investigate changes in consumers’ social media behaviors that have occurred since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared. Investigating the impact of this pandemic on consumers’ social media marketing behaviors is important because recent findings indicate that the pandemic is having significant and structural impacts on consumers’ purchase behaviors (Mason, Citation In Press ), as well as their decision-making processes (Mason et al., Citation in press ), which could result in significant changes in marketing practices. More specifically, Mason et al., Citation in press analyzed changes in U.S. consumer decision-making behaviors since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and found that the COVID-19 pandemic altered consumers’ product needs, shopping and purchasing behaviors, and post-purchase satisfaction levels. With public healthcare concerns and governmental COVID-19 pandemic mitigation policies, the role and impact of social media as a marketing tool stands to increase in importance because, at a time when social distancing is a common practice, social media offers avenues for consumers to interact with others without having physical contact. As such, COVID-19 will likely also result in shifts in consumers’ use of social media during consumer behaviors. Therefore, businesses may find new opportunities to gain competitive advantage through their use of effective social media marketing strategies.
While research is sorely needed to understand the healthcare and macro-economic implications of COVID-19, marketing research is also needed to examine the impacts of COVID-19 on consumers’ behaviors. For example, with restrictions on personal contact and other pandemic mitigation policies, consumers may alter their decision-making behaviors, such as behaviors related to shopping and product acquisition, as well as their post-purchase behaviors.
COVID-19 is a recent phenomenon, therefore, little has been published of its impact on social media marketing behavior in the U.S. This paper explores the role that social media plays in the consumer decision-making process. The authors hypothesize that social media marketing behaviors have shifted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The current research focused on the U.S. economy because it is the largest consumer spending economy in the world and the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted U.S. healthcare.
Laato et al. ( Citation 2020 ) provided a summary of the literature on the impact of pandemics on human behavior and found that researchers have given little attention to a pandemic’s impact on consumer behavior. Rather, research has primarily focused on pandemic impacts on behavior for preventive health. The COVID-19 pandemic provides an opportunity to gain valuable consumer behavior insights during a situation of consumer uncertainty about how to react. Thus, the current study sheds light on how consumers’ social media behaviors have shifted since the pandemic emerged.
Understanding how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts consumers’ social media behaviors can be framed with the S-O-R Theory (Mehrabian & Russell, Citation 1974 ) and the Consumer Decision-Making Model (Nicosia, Citation 1982 ). The S-O-R Theory is an environmental psychology-based explanation for how external stimuli can impact behavior (Laato et al., Citation 2020 ; Xu et al., Citation 2014 ). Mehrabian and Russell ( Citation 1974 ) developed the S-O-R framework, which states that an external stimuli (S) affects an organism (O) leading to a behavioral response (R). Kumar et al. ( Citation 2020 ) used S-O-R to explain moderators of consumer behaviors and found that the model is useful for explaining how external stimuli (S) can affect consumers’ (O) affective and cognitive processes, thus, impacting consumer behaviors (R). Regarding the impact of COVID-19 on consumers’ behaviors, COVID-19 news would serve as an external stimuli. As such, S-O-R Theory provides justification for how the COVID-19 pandemic can change consumers’ perceptions and behaviors.
Figure 1. Consumer decision-making model
2.1. Social media marketing
In recent years, the use of social media has increased significantly (Thota, Citation 2018 ), and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated social media use among U.S. adults (Samet, Citation 2020 ). Furthermore, the growth of social media platforms has transformed the dynamics of the electronic marketplace by creating social networks of consumers, opinion leaders, and field experts. Kumar et al. ( Citation 2020 ) illustrated the importance of social media marketing when they found that integrated marketing promotional messages can be effective at influencing consumers’ perceptions about product image and lead to consumption behaviors.
There are various reasons that people are attracted to social media. Based upon Uses and Gratification Theory, Malik et al. ( Citation 2016 ) examined benefits that Facebook users’ derived from social media activity. Specifically, from their online survey of 368 Facebook users, they identified six different types of gratifications achieved from sharing photos. They found that user gratification can result from affection, attention seeking, habit, information sharing, disclosure, and social influence.
In addition, Agarwal and Karahanna ( Citation 2000 ) found that when users are deeply involved in information technology, they experience a state of cognitive absorption (CA). Agarwal and Karahanna ( Citation 2000 ) found that CA draws users into the use of social media for a variety of reasons. For one, social media offers temporal dissociation, which limits the user’s awareness of the time passing. Also, social media provides users with focused immersion, which allows the user to escape life’s unpleasant realities. Third, social media can provide heightened enjoyment from successful interactions between the user and the software. Fourth, social media provides the user with a sense of control, and lastly, it can satisfy users’ curiosity by providing novelty and amazement.
While use of social media is appealing to many, it can have negative effects on the mental health of the population. For instance, in studying adolescents in India, Dhir et al. ( Citation 2018 ) found that social media fatigue may result from uncontrolled use of such platforms, and that social media fatigue may lead to increased levels of anxiety and depression. Nevertheless, social media is increasingly being used to facilitate communications between businesses and consumers (Knowles et al. ( Citation 2020 )). Kumar et al. ( Citation 2020 ) illustrated the importance of social media in marketing when they found that integrated marketing promotional messages can be effective at influencing consumer perceptions about product image and lead to consumption behaviors. The following literature review sections provide a brief discussion on how social media fits into the Consumer Decision-Making Model, which is illustrated in Figure 1 .
2.2. The role of social media in identifying product needs
The first stage of the consumer decision-making process is the realization of a product need. A product need is activated when a consumer’s actual state and desired state of being become incongruent (Bruner, Citation 1987 ). Consistent with S-O-R Theory, when external stimuli, such as promotional material, other consumers, product packaging, etc. are noticed by a consumer, they may perceive that they have an unmet need and become motivated to seek additional information to resolve the perceived need. For example, consider a health-conscious female consumer who is exposed to online information about health-related issues and discovers that many Americans lack sufficient vitamins and minerals in their diet. This information may cause the consumer to perceive a discrepancy between her perceived state (insufficient health) and her desired state (improved health). As a result, the consumer may develop a felt need (i.e., problem recognition) that is sufficiently strong as to lead her to seek a product solution.
Thota ( Citation 2018 ) argues that businesses can use social media to activate consumers’ product needs by triggering brand conversations that promote positive perceptions about products, services, or ideas. For example, consider Starbucks. While the brand has a global presence, Starbucks continues to engage the marketplace with social media to generate felt needs (i.e. problem recognition) by sustaining consumers’ brand awareness. In addition, Starbucks consistently deploys virtual messaging to promote consumers’ preference for their brand in the marketplace.
Social media is a powerful tool for message exposure. Thota ( Citation 2018 ) found that 93% of U.S. businesses use Facebook and other platforms, such as Twitter and LinkedIn. As such, social media provides businesses with virtual avenues to enhance consumers’ product/brand awareness. Social media platforms are also used for consumer-to-consumer interactions to share their product/brand experiences (Thota, Citation 2018 ). As such, social media offers businesses a means to generate brand awareness for their products or services. For example, using owned media, businesses can post brand content related to their products and services. Awareness and excitement for brands can also be generated with paid media, such as boosted Facebook posts, in order to activate recognition of a need/problem that the brand can resolve. In addition, posts by consumer peers and opinion leaders can provide brand influencing stimuli. For example, Jashari and Rrustemi ( Citation 2017 ) assert that “every photo, video, comment, review, and other content posted on social media, to which consumers are exposed, plays the role of stimulus (incentives) in recognizing a new need” (p. 4). Thus, companies may also encourage customers to post-product purchases in hopes of activating the product need stage within consumers.
Utilization of macro-influencers to help build product awareness is also a common practice among businesses attempting to build brands on social media. Businesses can hire elite influencers (e.g., celebrities and athletes) to post-favorable information about their products (Wertz, Citation 2019 ). This practice is effective because many highly paid macro-influencers (i.e., opinion leaders) have millions of followers on their social media platforms. All such content posted by these opinion leaders has the potential to influence the consumer decision-making process.
2.3. The role of social media in product information searches
The second stage of the consumer decision-making process occurs when a consumer conducts a product information search. In other words, upon activation of a perceived need, the consumer is motivated to gather information concerning a way to satisfy the need. During this process, consumers become aware of the relative features of competing brands or products. Consumers sometimes initiate the information search process by asking influencers (i.e., opinion leaders) in their network for product or service recommendations. Positive brand content, developed by a business, can be met with skepticism. However, peer product reviews are viewed more favorably because they are considered more credible than information provided by the marketer (Jin & Lee, Citation 2014 ; Sher & Lee, Citation 2009 ).
The level of importance a consumer places upon a product is referred to as the consumer’s involvement with the product. A consumer’s involvement with a given product moderates the way they process the information provided in a consumer review. Sher and Lee ( Citation 2009 ) conducted an experiment with 278 subjects and found that highly involved consumers engage in formal, detailed analysis of product information (i.e., elaborate processing), whereas less involved consumers are more persuaded by the quantity of reviews provided by other consumers (i.e., reliance on peripheral cues).
If the consumer has a low involvement need, then s/he will exert little effort during the information search. More specifically, when involvement is low, the consumer is likely to process information through peripheral routes and rely on cues as opposed to investigating more detailed product-specific information (Cacioppo et al., Citation 1986 ). The use of cues such as colors, images, and sounds are salient factors for gaining consumers’ attractions when they are in a low involvement situation.
However, consumers who are highly involved with a given product or purchase activity are motivated to engage in elaborate information searches. That is, the consumer is prone to seek out detailed information from multiple sources and acquire information through product trial experiences (Beatty & Smith, Citation 1987 ). In the high involvement situation, consumers are inclined to directly engage with potential influencers (e.g., opinion leaders, friends, sales staff, other consumers, etc.). To increase messaging impact, higher levels of consumer involvement are necessary. Increased consumer involvement can be achieved with high-quality, unusual, or entertaining communication among buyers and sellers through multiple social media channels (Liu & Arnett, Citation 2000 ; Rambe & Retumetse, Citation 2017 ).
2.4. The role of social media in evaluating product alternatives
During stage three of the consumer decision-making process, consumers’ evaluate product and brand choices from a set of considered options, commonly referred to as the evoked set. That is, after consumers complete the information search, they create a mental conceptual map of the alternative products that might reduce or eliminate their recognized need (Bettman, Citation 1979 ; Howard & Sheth, Citation 1972 ; Jacoby, Citation 1975 ; Phillips et al., Citation 1995 ). To arrive at an evoked set, consumers use a number of decision heuristics, or rules of thumb, to evaluate the product options. Potential heuristics include the lexicographic rule, the conjunctive rule, and the compensatory rule (Srinivasan, Citation 1987 ; Wright, Citation 1972 ). Using the lexicographic rule, consumers look for the product that performs the best on the attribute that is perceived to be most important. For example, price is sometimes used by consumers looking for the least expensive product alternative. A consumer uses a conjunctive heuristic to eliminate product options that are perceived as performing poorly on a salient attribute. For example, product style/fashion may be so important to the consumer that s/he only considers a product that is perceived to be stylish/fashionable, even if it does not perform well on other desirable characteristics, such as price or comfort. Consumers use the compensatory rule when they seek the best “overall” performing product. With the compensatory rule, the consumer will consider multiple product attributes, such as price, durability, and style. Then, the consumer mentally creates a weighted average performance rating across the set of attributes for each product in the evoked set.
Businesses can utilize social media strategies to create favorable information and resolve concerns relevant to the consumers’ decision criteria. Social media affords a business with the ability to have two-way conversations with customers. Potential consumers can comment on product/brand posts or directly contact the business with direct messaging to obtain more information on product offerings. For instance, consumers can use social media to ask questions about products. In turn, the business can directly respond to the consumer questions/concerns on the same post.
2.5. The role of social media in purchase decisions
During the fourth stage of the Consumer Decision-Making Model, the consumer makes a purchase decision. While, the primary strength of social media is to build awareness for products and services, some platforms allow consumers to make direct purchases. However, for many businesses, the degree to which consumers have purchased from such platforms has been disappointing. For example, Halzack ( Citation 2016 ) found only 1.8% of online U.S. sales during the 2015 holiday shopping season were made on social media platforms. Nevertheless, it seems intuitive that as social media platforms evolve with greater capabilities, their use for purchases will also increase.
An important factor related to the purchase decision is the consumer’s perceived risk that a given product will not deliver as desired. Pre-COVID-19, consumers typically addressed their perceived risk by seeking product validation from family, friends, perceived experts, and opinion leaders (Delener, Citation 1990 ; Voyer & Ranaweera, Citation 2015 ). However, the COVID-19 pandemic has restricted consumers’ ability to directly contact their social influencers. Fortunately, social media platforms allow consumers to interact with a greater number of consumers without the need to make physical contact. Therefore, in the COVID-19 pandemic environment, social media may play an increased role in consumers’ engagement with influencers as they seek to reduce their perceived risk. In other words, the role of social media for purchase decision behaviors is likely to increase.
2.6. The role of social media in post-purchase behaviors
In the final stage of the Consumer Decision-Making Model, the consumer engages in post-purchase processes, such as formulating purchase satisfaction or dissatisfaction emotions. Consumers’ level of satisfaction is a key element in the development of consumers’ relationships and repeat purchase behaviors, otherwise known as customer loyalty (Shemwell et al., Citation 1998 ; Spreng et al., Citation 1996 ). Often when consumers are dissatisfied with a purchase, they do not express why they are dissatisfied. Rather, they shift their future consumer shopping and/or purchase behaviors towards other options. Social media offers a method whereby consumers can express shopping and purchase satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Therefore, social media offers businesses with a quick, efficient and relatively inexpensive means of getting feedback from consumers and, thus, provides a method to quickly resolve concerns.
After making a purchase, consumers can turn to social media to show off and/or discuss their new purchase. When pleased, the consumer may turn to social media to promote or endorse the company. For example, if the product is a luxury brand, the consumer may post to display their ownership of the product in order to enhance their status among peers. However, consumers can also post their dissatisfactions about a product or shopping experience.
The COVID-19 pandemic and associated government mitigation policies make direct social contact more difficult and, thus, hinder businesses’ service efforts. With poorer customer service, customer dissatisfaction will likely increase and, therefore, harm a business’ efforts to generate consumer loyalty. Athwal et al. ( Citation 2019 ) argue that social media marketing can lower dissatisfaction by providing gratification of consumers’ emotional needs and cognitive needs. More specifically, social media marketing activities have been found to satisfy consumers’ emotional needs for entertainment (e.g., joy, humor, excitement) and their cognitive needs were satisfied through the use of social media as an information source (Athwal et al., Citation 2019 ).
Hypothesis 1: Consumers’ usage of social media to identify product needs has increased since the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hypothesis 2: Consumers’ usage of social media in shopping to acquire product comparison information has increased since the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hypothesis 3: Consumers’ usage of social media to evaluate the perceived risks of products has increased since the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hypothesis 4: Consumers’ usage of social media to purchase products has increased since the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hypothesis 5: Consumers’ usage of social media to express product purchase satisfaction or dissatisfaction has increased since the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic .
For this study, the defined population was U.S. consumers. Several dependent variables were assessed that consisted of consumers’ social media behaviors that followed the Consumer Decision-Making Model. Specifically, the dependent variables were measured as the degree to which respondents use social media to (1) identify product needs; (2) conduct product information searches; (3) compare product alternatives; (4) purchase products, and; (5) express post-purchase satisfaction/dissatisfaction. The independent variable was the COVID-19 pandemic, which was measured as two time periods: pre- and post-news about the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Data was obtained with a survey of consumers. The survey consisted of a questionnaire that was created by the authors. To complete the survey, respondents rated various statements about their use of social media in consumer decision-making behaviors. For example, respondents were asked to “Please rate the degree to which you used social media to identify needed products before the COVID-19 pandemic” and they were also asked to “Please rate the degree to which you currently use social media to identify needed products.” Responses were provided on a seven-point scale, where one indicated very low social media usage and seven indicated very high usage. To summarize, the questionnaire had two items dealing with each of the five consumer decision-making social media behaviors (i.e., dependent variables), where one item measured behaviors before the pandemic and the other measured behaviors since the pandemic began. Therefore, a total of 10 items were used to measure the dependent variables. In addition, the questionnaire utilized five items to collect demographic profiles of the respondents. More details of questionnaire are shown in the Appendix.
The survey questionnaire was administered to 327 respondents across the U.S. The majority of the respondents (n = 291) were acquired through a service provided by Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk), with some observations (36) acquired from university students. MTurk was utilized because it has been shown to provide high-quality data (Buhrmester et al., Citation 2011 ). MTurk allows requesters (e.g., researchers) the ability to hire individuals to complete a virtual task known as a Human Intelligence Task (HIT). In this study, the HIT was participation in the survey. MTurk also allows requesters the ability to set qualifications for those who can participate in the HIT. Two qualifications were required for participation. One requirement was that the MTurk participants be located in the U.S. Second, the participants had to demonstrate a history of dependability. More specifically, participation was limited to those who had at least a 90% HIT approval rating for previous HITs. In other words, previous researchers accepted input from those who participated in our survey at least 90% of the time. This limits involvement from participants who do not fully complete surveys and who fail to provide reliable responses. Participants were compensated 1.00 USD for their participation in our survey.
While the majority of the respondents (n = 291) were recruited through MTurk, the remainder of observations (n = 36) were collected in the summer of 2020 from online students at a midsize university located in the U.S. Midwest. The students participants were scattered across various locations in the U.S. Unfortunately, five respondents from the MTurk pool failed to answer the two questionnaire items that related to product purchase behavior (see these items used to measure Dependent Variable 4 in the Appendix). So, while 327 observations were obtained for all other dependent variables, the number of observations available to analyze the respondents’ social media purchase behavior was 322.
The sample pool had a diverse respondent profile, with similar demographics to the U.S. population. The respondents had an approximate age of 34 years. In addition, the sample pool of consumers exhibited a symmetrical distribution of income levels, education levels, and ethnicity. More specifically, annual incomes for the subjects ranged fairly evenly from less than 20,000 USD to over 100,000. USD Respondents’ education levels were also well represented, ranging from high school graduate to doctoral degree. The ethnic diversity of the subjects closely resembled the same sub-group percentages across the entire U.S.
Table 1. Comparison of the sample and overall United States demographics
The observations collected included respondents’ usage of social media (i.e., dependent variables) for two time periods (i.e., independent variable) across the same subjects. Therefore, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on consumers’ social media behaviors were analyzed using one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) with a blocking factor employed to test for statistical significance between the behavioral mean responses before and after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared. Since, the sample participants provided responses for both time periods, the respondent served as the ANOVA blocking factor. This analysis is adequate because ANOVA is fairly robust against departures from normality and the observed variance between groups was very close.
Table 2. Analysis of variance—use of social media to identify product needs
Table 3. analysis of variance—use of social media for shopping to compare products, table 4. analysis of variance—use of social media to evaluate product risks, table 5. analysis of variance—use of social media to purchase products, table 6. analysis of variance—use of social media to express product satisfaction levels.
Taken together the results observed show that, after the pandemic was declared, consumers’ usage of social media increased significantly for four of the five consumer decision-making behaviors. In summary, the findings supported hypotheses 1–4. So, the pandemic appears to have altered the way consumers activate product needs, shop for products, evaluate product alternatives, and purchase products. In addition, the findings provided some evidence consistent with hypothesis 5, albeit not statistically significantly. That is, the data showed an increase in consumers’ use of social media as a tool for expressing their post-purchase satisfaction/dissatisfaction levels. However, as mentioned earlier, the 0.26 p-value observed lacked statistical significance.
With many consumers becoming concerned about physical contact with others after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, it appears that consumers are increasingly using online platforms to conduct their consumer behaviors. More specifically, social media, which allows consumers to interact remotely, appears to be gaining importance as a tool for identifying product needs. In addition, consumers are increasingly engaging other consumers and retailers through social media to shop for product options, evaluate the alternatives, and make purchases.
As the COVID-19 pandemic leads consumers to spend less time in stores, the influence of in-store promotional materials on consumers’ shopping and purchase behaviors will decline. The findings indicate that consumers’ use of social media is on the rise. According to S-O-R Theory and the Consumer Decision-Making Model, consumers can be influenced by external entities. That is, consumers are subject to societal influence and, therefore, prone to imitate the behaviors of others. It is common for a person to make a purchase decision after receiving recommendations from a trusted source. Also, consumers can be socially influenced by messaging from satisfied consumers. The findings demonstrated that consumers are increasingly utilizing social media for societal influence as they shop and evaluate product alternatives.
Social media is appropriate for building consumers’ product and brand awareness. The data supports hypothesis 1, which states the consumers are increasingly using social media to identify product needs. When consumers recognize a problem, they are compelled to search for a resolution to the problem. However, often the consumer does not know which product will resolve their problem. With so many consumers utilizing social media to search for problem resolution options, businesses can develop social media followers and proactively promote how their products resolve consumer needs. The challenge here is for businesses to ensure their social media strategies lead to favorable information that is relevant to the decision criteria used by the consumer.
In support of hypotheses 2–4, the findings demonstrate that consumers are increasingly using social media to compare product alternatives, evaluate product risks, and make purchases, respectively. Social media can be used to take advantage of the marketplace opinion leaders and build brand value, which improves the consumers’ perceptions of the brand relative to alternatives. Businesses must select social media systems that promote active engagement among the users of the platform because users sometimes experience dissonance from negative social media experiences which can result in them switching services (Dhir et al., Citation 2016 ). To build a strong brand image, a business must be careful to not utilize social media platform(s) that generate user regrets or dissonance. Rather, Kaur et al. ( Citation 2018 ) recommend that businesses utilize social media systems that promote social enhancement and entertainment. They investigated factors associated with users’ intentions to continue social media activity with a given social media platform. In addition, their study examined differences in the influence of factors that impact users’ social media activity levels. Findings from Kaur et al. ( Citation 2018 ) highlighted that users’ perceptions of the social enhancement and playfulness of a given platform are meaningful predictors of their desire to continue engaging on that platform. Furthermore, Kaur et al. ( Citation 2016 ) found that user enjoyment and social interaction play important roles in the users’ experiences.
While the findings did not support the hypothesis concerning increased use of social media to express consumers’ satisfaction levels (H5), it seems reasonable that a business can build brand value by gathering feedback from satisfied customers, then posting the satisfied consumers’ positive remarks on social media. This positive messaging may be promoted via likes for opinion leader posts, as well as sharing positive reviews and comments. Businesses can increase the impact of the positive social media posts by sharing reviews, tweets, likes, and highlight satisfied consumers’ experiences in order to generate consumer conversions and build brand trust. For example, sharing testimonials, positive comments, pictures, or videos of highly satisfied consumers can be placed on the businesses’ web landing page. Also, opinion leader experts for a given product might be used to attract attention to promotional messaging. For example, an influential celebrity or athlete could generate interest and even influence consumers’ product need, product evaluation, or purchase processes.
Per findings on consumer involvement presented in the literature review, brand value can also be enhanced if businesses develop social media marketing strategies that lead consumers to higher levels of involvement and engagement during the consumer decision-making process. To engage and promote consumer involvement, social media can be used to generate focus group interviews where the business can make emotional connections with consumers and gain insights into consumers’ concerns with a brand, so that problems can be identified and resolved. Businesses can use the focus groups to generate post-purchase satisfaction and success stories, which can then be shared on their social media platforms.
In addition, a successful business strategy includes building positive social network communities. Consumers have high expectations for the various media channels they experience. Emmons ( Citation 2019 ) argues that meeting or exceeding consumer expectations using the business’s social networking communities will create engaging experiences for consumers, which will lead to meaningful business-to-consumer relationships. According to Emmons ( Citation 2019 ), engaging social media experiences shift business–consumer relationships from “us versus them” to “we” relationships, which foster the business’s credibility. Furthermore, Emmons ( Citation 2019 ) offers suggestions for businesses to build meaningful consumer experiences by continually developing fresh, compelling content; providing quick responses to consumer inquiries or concerns; and, continually monitoring trending conversation to gauge consumers’ perceptions. Lastly, Emmons ( Citation 2019 ) argues that it is advisable for a business to have a social purpose to help connect with consumers who want to be involved with a business which exemplifies social/community responsibility.
Although businesses may want to engage with consumers more on social media, they should be careful not to encourage behaviors that lead to social media fatigue. To counteract this threat, socially responsible businesses could encourage consumers to interact with them by engaging in brand-related activities offline and later posting about such activities on social media. For example, an outdoor equipment retail store could encourage consumers to socially distance outside while using products outdoors. The business could run a contest where they select the best outdoor brand-related photo posted by consumers. This activity could build positive relationships because Dhir et al. ( Citation 2017 ) found that photo sharing may be used to show affection and Eftekhar et al. ( Citation 2014 ) speculate that online photo tagging can enhance relationships. To promote corporate social responsibility, businesses need to be aware of the potential negative outcomes of increased social media time and identify ways to encourage healthy behaviors.
The survey data observed was useful to get preliminary evidence of consumer social media changes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the data was based upon self-reported perceptions. Therefore, while the results appear to have face validity, true validity of outcomes cannot be assessed. Another potential limitation of the data is that the respondents’ provided perceptions for two time periods and the data was gathered at one time. More specifically, respondents reflected on their social media behaviors prior to the pandemic and then also provided their current behaviors. Fortunately, the data was gathered soon after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared. Hence, the perceptions should provide a fairly accurate reflection of their behaviors prior to the pandemic. While the use of MTurk to acquire the respondents may cause the data to lack some robustness, the preliminary results strongly show that consumers’ social media behaviors are changing and, thus, provide evidence of the need for additional research.
Also, the findings were based upon an aggregate (macro-level) analysis of U.S. consumers. Future research should consider examining in-depth comparisons of various consumer segments (e.g., demographics, lifestyles, benefits sought, etc.) to get understandings of how various consumer market segments may be changing from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The current study findings were based upon self-reported social media behaviors. It would be beneficial to create future studies which obtain consumer’s actual social media behaviors, such as which platforms are most used and how much time they are used. Given that some social media platforms may produce negative feelings for certain consumers (Dhir et al., Citation 2016 ), it would be enlightening to research the relationships between a given social media platform and positive/negative consumer behaviors, such as increased shopping searches, increased purchases, and consumers’ post-purchase satisfaction posts. Also, empirical investigations are needed to examine the effectiveness of a given social media strategy for creating brand awareness, brand equity, brand purchases and post-purchase satisfaction. In addition, longitudinal studies would be useful to determine if the changes in social media behaviors observed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic will continue and have long-term systematic effects on consumers’ social media behaviors. Finally, studies are needed to explore whether certain marketing segments are more influenced by social media marketing. In other words, it would also be useful to conduct studies of the moderating effects of various demographics (e.g., education, income, age, etc.) on social media behavioral changes with respect to the consumer decision-making processes.
Social media is a salient source for influencing consumers’ shopping and buying behaviors as they share product reviews, service experiences, and/or product usage tips. The findings highlight the growing importance of social media as a marketing tool that has occurred since the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, the findings illustrate the impact that social media can have on consumer decision-making processes. Therefore, effective application of social media should be a part of any business’ marketing strategy. For example, social media visuals, content, promotional activities, and use of opinion leader influence should be deployed to positively influence the buying behaviors of consumers.
As previously mentioned, social media platforms are an important marketing tool for building brands, especially with regards to building brand awareness and excitement. The current study focused on the U.S. because of the diversity and considerable influence of the American economy and culture on the world. That is, many cultures are included and addressed in American social media platforms. Given that COVID-19 appears to be pushing consumers towards more online consumer behavior activity, the influence of social media will likely increase throughout the world. However, cultural differences should be considered when developing social media strategies in other countries because social media platform preferences may differ from one country to another.
*Source: United States Census at www.census.gov
The authors would like to thank the editor and anonymous reviewers for their supportive comments and suggestions.
Ethic Approval Statement
Prior to collecting data, the authors obtained IRB Committee approval from Arkansas Tech University. The research was exempted. Approval number is: Narcum_062920.
Notes on contributors
Andrew N. Mason
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Appendix Survey Instrument
Please rate the degree to which you used social media to identify needed products before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Please rate the degree to which you currently use social media to identify needed products.
Please rate the degree to which you used social media to gather information to compare products before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Please rate the degree to which you currently use social media to gather information to compare products.
Please rate the degree to which you used social media to evaluate product purchase risk before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Please rate the degree to which you currently use social media to evaluate product purchase risk.
Please rate the degree to which you used social media to purchase products before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Please rate the degree to which you currently use social media to purchase products.
Please rate the degree to which you used social media to express post-purchase satisfaction or dissatisfaction before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Please rate the degree to which you currently use social media to express post-purchase satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
Highest Education Level
* Rated items used a scale of 1 to 7 where 1 = very low and 7 = very high.
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Global social media statistics research summary 2023
Our compilation of the latest social media statistics of consumer adoption and usage of social networking platforms
Social networks have transformed marketing and, as this post shows, their popularity is still growing in our latest global social media statistics research summary for 2023.
Networks vary in popularity with different demographics and they're still evolving. Research by Global WebIndex that we reference in this article shows that globally,
59% of the world's population uses social media. The average daily usage is 2 hours and 31 minutes (January 2023).
We'll keep this post updated during 2023 as the latest statistics are published drawing on our recommended top 10 digital marketing statistics sources . We'll be pointing to new data on the popularity of social media from Global Web Index (worldwide), Pew Internet Surveys (US) and OfCom (UK), and most recently the Datareportal January 2023 global overview .
This post will apply the latest reports to our answers in 7 key areas crucial to understanding consumer use of social networks:
Q1. What is the overall popularity of social media compared to internet use globally?
Q2. which are the most popular social networks by demographics (age and gender).
- Q3. Which are the fastest-growing social networks?
Q4. How do social users interact with brands when selecting products and services?
- Q5. What are the different engagement metrics based on consumer behavior when using social media?
Q6. How do consumers interact with different post formats in social media?
Q7. what are the most popular times for consumers to use social media suggesting the best times to post.
Now more than ever, marketers need to make smart decisions when planning their digital distribution channels. So reviewing the latest social media diffusion and usage stats is a crucial part of any company's digital marketing strategy.
If you're looking for a new data-driven approach to planning your digital marketing strategy, why not download our free RACE Growth System template?
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Datareportal regularly updates its massive global compendium of social media statistics, which gives some great insights into the world of social media. It's a great download for including slides for your presentations.
How many people use social media?
As per the Datareportal January 2023 global overview we can see that social media growth has continued to increase:
- More than half of the world now uses social media (59%)
- 4.76 billion people around the world now use social media, 137 million new users have come online within the last 12 months
- The average daily time spent using social media is 2h 31m.
The full report from Datareportal contains a huge amount of insight collated from different data providers across 200+ slides. It provides country-specific data for the vast majority of the world, so you might want to check out the slides of the countries in your core markets to get a better idea of the current state of social in the areas you operate. In this post, we focus on the social media data which starts at slide 160 in the report.
This chart, by Datareportal , summarises the importance and growth of social media today.
Post-pandemic marketing update
In addition to business as usual, a special report by Datareportal in July 2020, examines changes in social media usage during the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown period. Notably a monumental increase in online and digital activities.
The increase came after a couple of years where growth had seemed to slow down, this behavior was attributed to changes in user behavior due to the lockdown. However, with growth continuing in 2023, there may be more at play than just the initial lockdown trends.
The best source for getting stats on the biggest social media platforms is direct from company statements and earning announcements.
Notably, of the top 4 social media platforms, 3 are owned by Meta . Facebook is the most-used platform in total - but as marketers, we know it's crucial to consider different trends of usage for different demographics, as we'll see below.
The rapid growth TikTok underwent in 2021 (resulting in a 142% increase YOY) saw it ranked the sixth most-used platform for the first time in July 2022. In January 2023 that remains the case.
With Elon Musk's proposed acquisition of Twitter we can expect changes to the platform including how Twitter regulates/empowers freedom of speech values for consumers and businesses.
So, what does this mean for your social media marketing strategy? Clearly, there are lots of opportunities to reach, interact with, convert and engage social media users across a wide number of channels, each with different features.
Don't forget you can use our free RACE Growth System template to identify digital priorities across targeted social media marketing to your identified target markets, through their favorite social media channels. You can find out more about the biggest social media channels in the breakdown below:
Global Facebook demographics
Since it is still the top dog, I'll share the Facebook demographics from Sprout Social Media's 2022 report . But you can get this breakdown for each channel and more in the report. This report was last updated in March 2022.
As we can see, from the Facebook data, the biggest demographic on Facebook is males aged 25-34. For females also this age range represents the largest user pool.
United States Social network popularity
The Pew Research Center news usage research is a very strong recent source showing US social media statistics trends in usage for news. Interestingly, nearly half of those surveyed in 2021 used social media to get news often or sometimes.
More interestingly, the stats breakdown below shows which social media channels are used by which genders, ages, education level, race, and political affiliations. For example, Facebook is a regular source of news to nearly double the amount of women to men. Nearly two thirds of Snapchat's regular news consumers are aged 18-29.
The 2021 Children and parents: media use and attitudes report published by OfCom (UK) is interesting if your business is involved in marketing to children or youth markets or you want to understand future adult use of social media. Notably, 44% of 8-11 year olds use social media apps/sites, swiftly increasing to 87% of 12-15 year olds.
Here's a snapshot of two of the four age groups featured.
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Q3. Which are the fast-growing social networks?
Every marketer has limited time for social media marketing, so which fastest growing social network should you focus your efforts on?
The fastest growing social media network in 2021 was TikTok, with 18.3% YOY growth, over 87.1% growth in 2020, as measured by US Social Network User Growth .
With the ' Rise of Social media ' interactive tool from 'Our World in Data' you can see the growth of the main networks between 2004 (when Myspace became the first platform to gain 1 million users) up to the end of 2019.
A summary of global social media growth
The number of social media users globally grew from 4.2 billion in January 2021 to 4.62 billion in January 2022. This accounts for a 10.1% growth YOY of global social media usage. In comparison, January 2023 saw a modest 3% growth of +137 million users.
Social media vs internet users: opportunities for growth
This chart shows the total number of Internet users as of January 2023. Whilst 64.4% of the world's population are internet users, 5% of those are still not active social media users.
Social media platforms today are evolving and developing to meet an ever-wider variety of consumer wants and needs. Surely the value that social media usage can add to consumers' lives is more evident than ever before - social media marketers can tap into that.
2023 analysis of regional use of social media shows the wide variation of social media penetration:
- 72% in Eastern Asia
- 74% in North America
- 72% in Southern America
- 84% in both Northern and Western Europe.
- This falls to 41% in Southern Asia, 13% in Western Africa, and 7% in Middle Africa.
As you can see, the makeup of our international social media users is varied. This useful infographic demonstrates the share of global social media users - with Eastern Asia representing 27.7% of global social media users.
One of the challenges of social media marketing is that by its nature, social media are peer-to-peer, involving conversations between friends, families and colleagues. Given this, brands must be sensitive to how they use social media.
The research from GlobalWebIndex in their social media trends 2021 report shows how/why visitors use different social media services. Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin, Reddit and Twitter users all report 'follow/find information about products/brands' in their top 3 motivations.
Platform-specific social media marketing planning
Our new Organic Social Media Learning Path modules (released May 2022) are dedicated to helping marketers optimize their organic Instagram marketing with a strategic approach, integrated across the marketing funnel.
Our bite-sized modules contain tools and templates designed to help you address the systematic issue of businesses using social media platforms to create standalone posts rather than planning a strategy.
Our Social Media Learning Path has modules with dedicated help for:
- LinkedIn organic marketing
- Instagram organic marketing
- Facebook organic marketing
This example plan, taken from our Facebook module, demonstrates how a joined-up approach can strengthen each stage of the funnel, across the RACE Framework of reach, act, convert, and engage.
Optimize your organic Instagram marketing
Part of the Social media marketing Toolkit
Discover the latest tips and tactics to reach, engage and convert your customers through organic Instagram marketing
Q5. What are the best benchmarks for different platforms' engagement rates?
Social media statistics benchmarking tool Rival IQ produces these useful sector-by-sector benchmarks of social media engagement metrics including:
- Posts per day
- Posts per week
- Engagement rate
- Top hashtags by engagement rate
These include useful sector benchmarks for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter you can compare against. Here is a sample of the insights from their 2022 report.
Facebook engagement rates
The 2021 median average engagement rate per post (by follower) on Facebook is 0.064%, across all industries. Sports Teams see the highest engagement, achieving an average of 0.27%, followed by Influencers with 0.23% and Higher Education with 0.15%.
At the lower end of the spectrum, Health & Beauty, and Tech & Software receive an average 0.02% engagement rate.
Instagram engagement rates
Engagement rates are significantly higher on Instagram compared to Facebook. As you can see the 2021 average median engagement rate per post (by follower) is more than 10x higher, despite engagement on Instagram dropping approx 30% between 2020-21 .
Marketers know intuitively that the right type of visuals and videos are more effective in gaining engagement.
This is supported by observed interaction rates. According to LinkedIn, Images typically result in a 2x higher comment rate and Video gets 5x more engagement on LinkedIn, Live Video gets 24x more.
This is also supported by this data from this Social Bakers social media trends report:
Videos longer than a minute achieved the highest median interactions and median reach on Facebook, according to Socialbakers data.
In fact, for both reach and interactions, there was a correlation that showed the longer a video was, the further it reached and the more interactions it received.
Testing different frequency of updates and timing is another aspect of social media optimization based on consumer behaviour.
Each network tends to have a ‘sweet spot’ for frequency based on their algorithms. It used to be beneficial to post several times a day on Facebook for many brands, but with decrease organic reach, a single update tends to be more effective. We find a higher frequency on LinkedIn or Twitter tends to be more effective.
Sprout Social's 2022 social media strategy builder compares the best times to post on social media . Compare these to your patterns of posting and consider how you could post differently.
Each network tends to have a ‘sweet spot’ for frequency based on their algorithm and the most common times for consumer usage. It used to be beneficial to post several times a day on Facebook for many brands, but with decreased organic reach, a single update tends to be more effective.
We find a higher frequency on LinkedIn or Twitter tends to be more effective. The results from Instagram and Facebook show a clear preference for around midweek at midday, so you should consider this when scheduling your post updates.
By Dave Chaffey
Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of online marketing training platform and publisher Smart Insights. Dave is editor of the 100+ templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ digital marketing experts. Our resources are used by our Premium members in more than 100 countries to Plan, Manage and Optimize their digital marketing. Free members can access our free sample templates here . Dave is a keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice . My personal site, DaveChaffey.com, lists my latest Digital marketing and E-commerce books and support materials including a digital marketing glossary . In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question .
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THE IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING ON CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR
2021, isara solutions
In today's time when most of the people are spending long hours on mobile phones, using different applications over internet, it has become inevitable for the business companies to extend their marketing strategies to social media platforms to reach out to potential customers. The dynamic business environment and cut-throat competition in the market compels companies to maintain their existing customer base while attracting potential customers. Using social media marketing tactics can be beneficial for the company as well as for the customers. It allows the companies to effectively communicate about their brand and promote their product/service according to the customer's attitudes or perceptions. It thus, allows them to maintain their online brand presence accordingly and maintain a good relationship with the customers. The other factor which makes this medium lucrative for businesses and leverages the playing field for the small and big companies is its cost effectiveness as compared to other mediums of marketing like electronic or print media, etc. The current research work examines the relevance of social media marketing by highlighting the various marketing strategies being employed by the companies to maintain their competitive advantage and its impact on the consumer's brand perception and buying intention. This has special significance for marketers in the present global pandemic which has pushed them to rethink and evolve their marketing strategies.
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7 ways to use social media for market research
Written by by Katherine Kim
Published on August 26, 2021
Reading time 7 minutes
As marketers, it’s our job to know our target audience’s needs and preferences. It’s why we conduct market research every year to better understand what our customers want and uncover new business opportunities.
But sometimes market research alone isn’t enough, especially when consumer preferences can change overnight. While focus groups are helpful to reference at the start of new product or campaign development, they’re less useful for gathering customer feedback once said post-launch. And annual surveys reveal little about what current events or trending topics are most relevant among consumers right now. To stay on top of the latest trends and maintain a more accurate pulse on your audience, you need to incorporate social media market research into your strategy.
What is social media market research?
Social media market research is the practice of gathering historical and real-time data from social media channels to better understand your brand’s target market. While it’s possible to conduct market research natively on social platforms, tools like Sprout Social enable you to collect and analyze information from all of your brand’s social accounts in one centralized platform.
Social media market research is also:
- Affordable. Social media is much cheaper than surveys or focus groups, which can cost thousands of dollars depending on the size and complexity of your research panel.
- Quick. While traditional market research methods can take time, social media is always updating in real-time and you can pull existing social data for immediate results.
- Comprehensive. With over 3.6 billion social users in 2020 , there’s no shortage of data on social media and tools like social listening make it easy to analyze conversations and trends around your entire industry, not just your brand.
7 market research insights you can get from social media
1. See how customers use your products or services
Tried @weareomsom tonight for the first time. It was delicious and pretty idiot proof. Instructions: 1. Cook fish 2. Add sauce & cook more 3. Eat pic.twitter.com/6ZMmf7XsmA — Greg Baroth (@gbaroth) July 12, 2021
Consumers aren’t shy about sharing how they use certain products and will rush to share their thoughts on social media. Omsom, a company that creates pantry shortcuts for specific Asian dishes, is regularly tagged in consumer reviews and photos of people’s home cooked meals. In one Tweet , a customer shares how they use Omsom to jazz up their leftovers while another attributes a successful dinner to the Asian pantry shortcut.
How to find this information: When customers want you to know something, they won’t hesitate to tag or mention your brand. Search for your brand and the name of your product on social platforms like Twitter or Instagram to learn how customers actually use your goods and services. Reddit is another treasure trove filled with conversations and communities relevant to your brand or products. And with a tool like Sprout Social, you can easily monitor those branded keywords and phrases to stay up to date with what customers have to say.
2. Learn what customers dislike about your brand
I don't like the way @netflix skips the credits. — Simon Scriver (@ToastFundraiser) August 13, 2021
One guarantee of any social platform is you can always find someone who dislikes something about your brand, product or service. In the example above, an individual shares a specific feature that forces viewers to skip the end credits of a film or TV show. Even if they’re tough to digest, the negative comments can actually help brands identify areas for improvement to strengthen their offerings.
How to find this information: Truth be told, you probably don’t need to search too hard to find what people dislike about your brand or your products. Beyond searching for branded keywords and phrases, consider checking your social inbox for direct messages that contain constructive criticism. This is also a great opportunity for social teams to solicit feedback from sales or customer service teams who hear directly from customers about their likes and dislikes.
3. Discover what customers like about your brand
Even after spending 6 hours waiting to leave Pensacola, I still love @SouthwestAir . They’re the best airline, even in crisis mode! — Dr. Erica M. Stone (she/her) (@ericamstone) August 16, 2021
As fast as people are to point out what they dislike about a brand, they’re just as quick to heap praise on the businesses they love. Travelers, for example, may have a favorite airline and are eager to share what makes them a frequent flier of one airline over another. For brands, this is also an opportunity to learn more about what attracts customers to your competitors. If you notice customers can’t stop praising the competition’s exceptional customer service on social, consider reevaluating your own service efforts to find potential opportunities for improvement.
How to find this information: There are several ways you can find positive feedback about your brand. You can search for branded keywords and phrases organically on social; you can also peruse the reviews section on platforms like Facebook, TripAdvisor and Google. In addition to monitoring the conversation around your brand, you should also keep a pulse on what consumers are saying about your competitors. With Sprout’s Listening tool , you can easily set up a competitive analysis report to better track and understand consumers’ attitudes toward the competition.
4. Gain insight into what customers expect from your brand in the future
Hint hint feature request @SproutSocial — ✨ Brittnee ✨ (@BrittneeCoomer) August 3, 2021
Consumers frequently take to social to share what they want to see from brands in the future. A brick-and-mortar retailer might receive a request for a future store location while a coffee company might see comments asking for a specific roast or drink to come back on the menu. At Sprout, we often field Tweets from customers with new feature requests which we pass along to our product team for consideration down the road.
How to find this information: One place where you’re likely to find customer feedback is right in your inbox. With Sprout’s tagging capabilities , you can even label and sort messages by type as they come through, making it easy to pass along product requests to the appropriate teams. Another way to solicit feedback around what customers want to see from your brand is to simply ask. You’d be surprised how many people respond to a question published on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook with their thoughts and ideas.
5. See what trends customers are interested in
General Mills is trying to target my childhood nostalgia! There is Dunkaroos and Pokémon cereal now. pic.twitter.com/VWrYyt0cKp — Lexi Birmingham (@LexiBirmWX) January 22, 2021
As volatile as they may be, trends have a significant impact on a brand’s social strategy and how they connect with their audience. Jumping on the right trending topic at the right time on social can be a jolt to brand awareness and customer engagement. Nostalgia marketing, for example, is a rising trend among consumers and big name brands like General Mills are capitalizing on people’s desire for a childhood throwback in their latest campaigns.
How to find this information: To quickly see what’s trending, check out the explore tab on platforms like Twitter and YouTube or use a tool like Google Trends to see what topics are gaining traction. You can also use Sprout’s listening tool to identify trends within your industry and topics most relevant to your customers. With listening , you can uncover keywords and terms most commonly used by your target audience and discover related topics frequently mentioned with any terms you’re currently tracking.
6. Get to know your customers on a personal level
soo Peloton, what milestones are we celebrating this week? — Peloton (@onepeloton) July 5, 2021
The beauty of social media is it encourages two-way conversations between brands and their customers, giving brands an opportunity to get to know their audience on an individual level. Facebook communities, for example, provide consumers a space to get to know one another, celebrate personal milestones or share challenges. Peloton is known for curating massive communities where riders can find support and motivation from peers, while Peloton gets to learn a little more about the people who make up their audience.
How to find this information: To get to know your audience better, consider building out your community management strategy on platforms like Instagram or Reddit to stay connected with your customers. Give your customers a reason to engage with your brand by responding to their questions or posting topics for conversation. To help nurture those relationships with your audience further, Sprout’s social media engagement tools ensure you never miss a message from someone in your community.
7. Pinpoint what social content resonates with your audience
Which topic would you be most interested in seeing social listening insights about? — Sprout Social (@SproutSocial) July 21, 2021
With millions (if not billions) of posts publishing on social daily, brands need to be strategic about what content they post in order to capture their audience’s attention. Take stock of your existing content to see what themes or content formats fuel your performance goals. If video in-feed posts garner more impressions than text posts and raising awareness is your top goal, consider investing more in video production. Or, if you want to drive conversation, look at what posts with high engagement (e.g., comments and shares) have in common. Finally, it never hurts to ask your audience directly what topics or social content they want to see from your brand in the future.
How to find this information: To find the content that resonates strongest with your audience, start by looking at the native analytics and data report tabs per social channel. Sprout’s Post Performance Report helps you break down the types of content you’ve published and identify which performed the best. For more granular insights, you can sort by impressions, engagement and clicks to determine what formats and themes are most effective on specific networks.
Better research starts with social
The best marketing campaigns are the ones that show a brand really gets its audience. When brands demonstrate they understand their customers’ wants and needs, they stand to strengthen their bottom line and develop customers for life.
Thanks to social media marketing research, brands have access to fast and reliable insights that deepen their understanding of what makes their audience tick. From identifying new opportunities to improving customer relationships, data from social empowers brands to make smarter decisions that contribute to their business goals.
Ready to turn your social data into valuable insights about your industry and customers? Download this worksheet to learn how to conduct quick and valuable market research in under 90 minutes.
Resources for you
The creator economy: making dollars and sense out of social partnerships, [workbook] social listening step-by-step in 90 minutes, the sprout social index, edition xviii: us forecast, prepare to launch with a social media campaign brief: template, recommended for you.
- Social Media Analytics
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5 must-have social media dashboard templates for brands.
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Free research papers on social media and marketing
Access to the top-cited and most read research articles from elsevier's marketing journals, by angelina ward posted on 27 may 2014.
Behind every great marketer is the science of marketing and social media, with strategies, principles and techniques that are continually evolving. Professionals must not only keep pace with the latest tools and technologies — which enable them to target their communications and keep track of how (and how many) people respond — they must be communication experts who understand the importance of listening and observation.
Elsevier has a portfolio of marketing journals that address the challenges of marketing professionals and present the latest research. The publishers of this portfolio have made their most read and top-cited articles free until August 23, 2014. Here is their selection:
Journal of Business Research
- Most read: A.J. Kim, E. Ko: " Do social media marketing activities enhance customer equity? An empirical study of luxury fashion brand "
- Most cited: N.O. Ndubisi: " Mindfulness, reliability, pre-emptive conflict handling, customer orientation and outcomes in Malaysia's healthcare sector "
Industrial Marketing Management
- Most read: S. Hoejimose, S. Brammer, A. Millington: " Green" supply chain management: The role of trust and top management in B2B and B2C markets "
- Most cited: L. Aarikka-Stenroos, E. Jaakkola: " Value co-creation in knowledge intensive business services: A dyadic perspective on the joint problem solving process "
International Journal of Research in Marketing
- Most read: A. Reed II, M.R. Forehand, S. Puntoni, L. Warlop: " Identity-based consumer behavior "
- Most cited: Y. Strizhakova, R.A. Coulter, L.L. Price: " The young adult cohort in emerging markets: Assessing their glocal cultural identity in a global marketplace "
Journal of Consumer Psychology
- Most read: B. Schmitt: " T he consumer psychology of brands "
- Most cited: C. Spence: " Managing sensory expectations concerning products and brands: Capitalizing on the potential of sound and shape symbolism "
Journal of Retailing
- Most read: S. Rose, M. Clark, P. Samouel, N. Hair: " Online Customer Experience in e-Retailing: An empirical model of Antecedents and Outcomes" Most cited: L. Ashworth, L. McShane: " Why Do We Care What Others Pay? The Effect of Other Consumers' Prices on Inferences of Seller (Dis)Respect and Perceptions of Deservingness Violation "
Journal of Interactive Marketing
- Most read: L. de Vries, S. Gensler, P.S.H. Leeflang: " Popularity of Brand Posts on Brand Fan Pages: An Investigation of the Effects of Social Media Marketing "
- Most cited: E.A. Van Reijmersda, E. Rozendaal, M. Buijzen: " Effects of Prominence, Involvement, and Persuasion Knowledge on Children's Cognitive and Affective Responses to Advergames "
Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services
- Most read: B. Zhang, J.H. Kim: " Luxury fashion consumption in China: Factors affecting attitude and purchase intent
- Most cited: J. Bruwer, I. Lesschaeve, B.L. Campbell: " Consumption dynamics and demographics of Canadian wine consumers: Retailing insights from the tasting room channel "
Australasian Marketing Journal
- Most read: R. Gordon: " Re-thinking and re-tooling the social marketing mix "
- Most cited: D. Stephenson, S. Worthington, R. Russell-Bennett: " The financial services cultural orientation matrix "
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As in life, the most effective way to network often involves listening rather than speaking
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This course is part of the Meta Social Media Marketing Professional Certificate
Introduction to Social Media Marketing
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About this Course
This course lays the foundation of social media marketing. You’ll learn what social media marketing entails, including the history and the different social media channels that exist. You’ll learn how to select a social media channel that fits your needs, set goals and success metrics, and determine who your target audience is.
By the end of this course, you will be able to: • Understand the landscape of traditional, digital, and social media marketing • Understand how to become certified as a Digital Marketing Associate • Understand the major social media platforms, how they function, and what role they play in marketing • Create SMART goals and identify KPIs • Define your target audience and their customer journey • Choose the right social media platforms and learn how to create social media policies Whatever level of knowledge you start with, this course will help you build a solid foundation for social media marketing and gain applicable skills that will allow you to make your social media marketing efforts more successful and noticeable. Learners don't need marketing experience, but should have basic internet navigation skills and be eager to participate and connect in social media. Learners must have a Facebook account and an Instagram account helps.
Could your company benefit from training employees on in-demand skills?
What you will learn
Understand the landscape of traditional, digital, and social media marketing
Understand the major social media platforms, how they function, and what role they play in marketing
Create SMART goals, identify KPIs, and define your target audience and their customer journey
Choose the right social media platforms and learn how to create social media policies
Skills you will gain
- Social Media Marketing
- Digital Marketing
- Social Media Marketing Strategy
Meta builds technologies that help people connect with friends and family, find communities, and grow businesses. The Meta Professional Certificates create opportunities so that anyone regardless of education, background or experience can learn high-quality skills to land a high-growth career—no degree or experience required to get started. Meta also offers training courses on the metaverse to educate people, brands, businesses and professionals on the opportunities it presents and what it means for our world today and into the future.
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Syllabus - What you will learn from this course
The social media landscape.
This week you'll get an introduction to the Meta Social Media Marketing Professional Certificate program, then you'll dive into an introduction to marketing and social media marketing, learn about how businesses use social media and get a basic overview of the social media landscape.
Social Media Platforms Overview
In week two, you'll learn the ins and outs of some of the major social media platforms as well as the differences between how individuals and businesses can and do use them.
Goals and Planning for Success
In week three, you'll dig into two foundational skills for a marketer, defining SMART goals and key performance indicators. These are key components in building out a marketing campaign no matter what platform you operate on. At the end of the week you'll complete your first project and apply your learning to a real life scenario.
Understand Your Audience
This week, you'll turn your focus to developing a target audience persona and a customer journey. This foundation to any marketing campaign builds off of what you learned last week on goals and key performance indicators. You'll end the week with a project in which you will build your own target audience persona and customer journey.
Choose Your Social Media Channels
This week, we will wrap up the course with a focus on carefully selecting the appropriate social media platform based on your target audience and you’ll learn how to create and manage a social media policy.
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I found your course very good. I hope that this course will benefit by applying all the subjects I have learned from this course to the digital marketplace. Thanks to Trainer for her amazing work.
Great Presentation style.i like her infrormative speechs.highy valuble for fundamental informations.foundation should be really solid for any specialization course.Thank you.Lets continue program.
Marketing is a new domain to me, for someone who's new to this i will recommend this course because of the ease the course is structured and that facilitates understanding of very difficult concepts.
I learned a lot about the basics which encouraged me to do more reading and research on course material subjects that impacts the overall learning experience and knowledge that I find very valuable.
About the Meta Social Media Marketing Professional Certificate
Want to turn your passion for social media into a career? In this program, you’ll learn how to create a social media presence on Facebook and Instagram that people want to follow! Social media marketing jobs are amongst the most in-demand skills for organizations of all sizes. Whether you’re completely new to digital marketing or you’ve been tinkering with social media platforms for your own business, you’ve come to the right place. This six-course program designed by experts at Meta and Aptly will provide an introduction to digital marketing and all the major social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok and more to prepare you with the skills and tools needed to grow an engaging social community and run effective social media advertising.
Upon successful completion of the program, you’ll: Get exclusive access to the Meta Career Programs Job Board—a job search platform that connects you with 200+ employers who have committed to sourcing talent through Meta’s certificate programs, as well as career support resources to help you with your job search. Earn both a Professional Certificate and the Meta Digital Marketing Associate Certification, showcasing your skills in social media marketing and the use of Meta Ads Manager to potential employers. The Professional Certificate is now ACE® recommended. You can learn more here. This specialization is also offered in Arabic, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Frequently Asked Questions
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Access to lectures and assignments depends on your type of enrollment. If you take a course in audit mode, you will be able to see most course materials for free. To access graded assignments and to earn a Certificate, you will need to purchase the Certificate experience, during or after your audit. If you don't see the audit option:
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The course may offer 'Full Course, No Certificate' instead. This option lets you see all course materials, submit required assessments, and get a final grade. This also means that you will not be able to purchase a Certificate experience.
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When you enroll in the course, you get access to all of the courses in the Certificate, and you earn a certificate when you complete the work. Your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page - from there, you can print your Certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile. If you only want to read and view the course content, you can audit the course for free.
Can I receive university credit for completing this course?
It is possible to receive university credit for completing the entire Meta Social Media Marketing Professional Certificate. You can earn up to 2 college credits at participating colleges and universities nationwide for completing the certificate. The Meta Social Media Marketing Professional Certificate is now ACE® recommended . We’ll share on how you can share proof of completion to your school once you complete the certificate program. Please note that the decision to accept specific credit recommendations is up to each institution and is not guaranteed. Read more about ACE Credit College & University Partnerships here .
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How (& Where) Consumers Discover Products on Social Media [New Data]
Published: October 03, 2022
Marketing is all about meeting people where they are — and more often than not, they're on social media. For this reason, it's the perfect vehicle for product discovery.
Of course, not all social media platforms are created equal, especially when it comes to product discovery. So, if you're looking to pinpoint the platforms consumers use the most for product research, you've come to the right place.
Here, we'll dive into:
- The top social media channels consumers use for product discovery
- What types of content consumers watch and engage with
- Social media research habits
- Which platforms you should market your products on
Let's dive in.
What is shopper research?
Shopper research examines how, when, and where customers interact with brands to give companies a better understanding of the consumer journey from discovery to conversion.
Shopper research is critical for a better understanding of the customer journey from initial searches to website visits and eventual purchases. Plus, the advent of digital- and mobile-first interactions has made this research even more important as the customer journey now includes multiple paths and touchpoints from start to finish.
For example, prospective buyers might hear about your brand from a friend, do their research on social media, and then interact with your ecommerce store through their mobile device.
Understanding all touchpoints along this journey can help companies create more seamless and streamlined experiences for consumers and increase overall ROI.
The Top Social Media Channels Consumers Use For Product Discovery
22% of consumers prefer to discover new products via social media, according to HubSpot's 2022 State of Consumer Trends Report . Let's take a closer look at the channels they leverage for product discovery :
57% of Gen Z have discovered new products on social media in the past three months, and 71% say it's where they most often discover products.
Almost half (49%) of Gen Z consumers prefer to discover new products via Instagram Stories. This isn't too surprising when you consider 90% of people follow a business on Instagram. On top of that, Gen Z ranks Instagram as their favorite social media app.
In second place, 41% want to discover new products through a short-form video — such as a TikTok or Instagram Reel . Since these platforms pull a younger audience, this adds up.
Millennials prefer to discover new products via feed or story posts. This could be anything from an Instagram Story to a Facebook post. Facebook, in particular, is the social app Millennials visit the most, followed closely by YouTube.
On top of that, Millennials also like to discover new products through short-form videos (36%).
Gen X discovers new products on social media more frequently than any other channel, even though it isn’t preferred. Like Millennials, they're most likely to find new products via feed or story posts.
Interestingly, this age group likes to discover new products through short-form videos (41%) in equal measure to Gen Z. It's clear that short, snackable content is appealing to this demographic. In fact, 36% of TikTok users in 2021 were between 35 and 54 years old , a 10% increase from the year before.
Social media falls flat for boomers — a slim 17% have discovered a product on it in the past three months, and only 4% have purchased a product on a social app in that time.
That said, of those who use social media, 42% prefer to discover new products via feed posts. The platforms they visit the most are Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest.
What Types of Product Content Do Consumers Watch or Engage With?
If you're looking to leverage social media, it's a good idea to know what types of branded content consumers enjoy.
Nearly half of consumers (48%) find funny content the most memorable, followed by relatable content. Additionally, m aking content that showcases your product or service — such as a demo, review, or tutorial — is also highly memorable to 36% of consumers.
Social Media Research Habits
To learn more about the social networks people prefer to surf for product research, I conducted a poll of 304 people using Lucid Software.
Source: Lucid Software
At first glance, the survey data seems simple: Facebook is far and away the market leader when it comes to product research and eventual purchasing, followed by YouTube.
But that’s not the whole story. Part of the reason Facebook and YouTube rank so highly is because of their massive user base — for example, Facebook has three times the user base of Instagram, despite being owned by the same company.
It’s also worth noting that while Facebook marketing appeals to a broader audience, volume alone doesn’t guarantee conversion. Users on Pinterest, TikTok, and Reddit tend to be much more engaged with their social community — meaning that if your brand can capture their attention you can create substantive consumer loyalty.
LinkedIn, meanwhile, relies on authenticity and authority to inspire confidence, while Twitter is all about what’s trending right now.
Which social media platform should you market products on?
Facebook has a whopping 2.7 billion active daily users and has been around since the early 2000s. Its audience includes multiple age groups and spans the globe , making it a solid place for most brands to market themselves.
Most importantly, 78% of US consumers discover new products on Facebook, more than any than other platform.
When it comes to marketing your product, you have many free and paid options on Facebook. Here are a few examples of each.
By now, you probably know that any company can create a Facebook Business Page . Once you create a business page, you can share posts about your products and offerings. If you have happy customers, you can even ask them to review your business on Facebook so prospects researching you can see how you've pleased your customers in the past.
Aside from creating a page to highlight your brand, you can also post your products in Facebook's Marketplace . Marketplace listings can include product shots, pricing, product specifications, and purchasing information. Although individual users often use the Marketplace to sell items they no longer want to other people, Facebook Business pages are also eligible to use this feature.
You should also consider talking about your products or offerings on Facebook Stories . This might take a little extra effort because it will require you to film or create content in the Story format, but it can help you better connect with prospective buyers who want a better sense of what your brand is about.
Because Facebook's feed algorithmically favors posts from individual accounts over businesses, you might decide that you want to put money into Facebook Ads.
Facebook Ads has a solid track record. It's estimated that 10 million businesses were advertising on the platform in 2021.
With Facebook Ads , you can create advertisements with a certain goal in mind, such as conversions or in-store foot traffic. The detailed ads software also allows you to target specific audience demographics.
As a Facebook advertiser , you can either promote a post you've already created to ensure that it shows up on feeds of users in your demographic, or you can create native ads that might show up in feeds or on Facebook's sidebars. While promoted posts look like an average post with a simple tag stating they're promoted, the native ads look more like traditional ads to make it clear to users that the content they're seeing is paid for.
If you want to launch video-based ads, Facebook also allows you to promote video content or buy in-stream ad placements that appear in Facebook Live videos or longer videos that other users have uploaded.
If how-tos or video tutorials are part of your content marketing strategy. YouTube will be a natural fit for your brand. This is because YouTube users are three times more likely to prefer watching a YouTube tutorial video compared to reading the product’s instructions.
YouTube is also popular across multiple age groups. In the last three months, 83% of Millennials have visited YouTube, followed by 81% of Gen Z , and 79% of Gen X . For Baby Boomers, YouTube is their second favorite social media app, just behind Facebook.
With a branded YouTube channel, you can publish video content such as demos, tutorials, or customer testimonial videos that give insightful details about why your product is valuable. By filming your own videos, you can insure that you're highlighting all the great aspects of your product that make it stand out from its competitors.
Alternatively, if you don't have time to create your own videos, sponsoring an influencer's content, tutorial, or review related to your product allows you to tap into that content creator's audience as they tell their followers more about your offerings.
Aside from creating your own account or hiring an influencer to give a review or tutorial, you could also consider paid advertisements. YouTube offers a few ad styles including TrueView, Preroll, and Bumpers .
These ads allow you to submit a short video ad to YouTube which is then placed at the beginning or in the middle of videos with metrics and demographics that match your brand's target. To learn the ins and outs of setting up an ad and determining which style is right for you, check out this guide .
Although Instagram ranked in third place in the poll above, you shouldn't disregard it — especially if you're targeting Gen-Z or millennials who make up the platform's primary audience .
For years, Instagram's visual layout has made it a hot spot for influencer marketing . Influencers regularly post sponsored photos and videos about their experiences with products. Like YouTube, these influencers also regularly publish video posts or Stories that present tutorials, reviews, and unboxings related to a product.
Aside from influencer marketing, many brands also promote their products on Instagram Stories , Instagram Live , and through standard video or photo posts on Instagram Feed.
Here's an example where Kylie Jenner, the CEO and Founder of Kylie Cosmetics, films a Story-based product tutorial for her company's Instagram account:
Along with free strategies, Instagram now offers Shoppable posts. With Shoppable posts, you can promote a product in an Instagram post that links to your Facebook Catalog . Here's an example of what a Shoppable Post looks like:
To be eligible for Shoppable posts, you must have an Instagram Business page that's linked to a Facebook Catalog. This feature is also only for businesses selling physical goods.
Here's a blog post that goes into detail about how to use and optimize Shoppable posts.
Pinterest encourages people to pin image-based posts that inspire them to digital boards, mimicking the process of creating a physical inspiration board.
Because people come to this platform to be inspired to do something, such as travel or home decorating, they might find themselves pinning all sorts of product-oriented images to a themed board. For example, someone who wants to redecorate their office might create an "Office Inspiration" board and pin photos of furniture or decorative items that they'd like to buy.
Here's an example of what these boards look like:
To make it easier for people to find your products, you could consider starting a Pinterest account and making a few boards to highlight your products. For example, if you're marketing a travel company, you could make a board for each country that you offer packages to. On each board, you could place images of trip activities that link to your website.
Then, if someone is trying to plan a trip to a country you sell a package for, they might come across one of your posts and pin it to their own "Travel Inspiration" board.
To give you a real-world example of how brands use Pinterest, below is a Wedding Registry board created by Target which features images of products that a bride and groom might want to add to their gift registry.
Each of Target's pinned images links to the company website so users can share the pin on their own Pinterest board, or click straight through the post to buy or register the product.
If you have an advertising budget, you can also consider launching pay-per-click ads on Pinterest . Pinterest Ads enables your posts to be seen by people in a specific demographic that matches your own. The platform also allows you to A/B test photos and target ads to Pinterest users on your contact lists.
Want to learn more about Pinterest Ads and effective experiments to run? Check out this blog post from a PPC and Pinterest expert.
Reddit encourages users to create discussion threads in themed online communities, called subreddits. As the platform has evolved, many users have created both threads and subreddits devoted to talking about products, like fast-food restaurants or video games.
Below is an example of a subreddit, or online community, that Reddit users created to talk about all things related to Xbox One.
However, because comments with promotional language in them often get downvoted or buried in feeds by more engaging Reddit threads, you'll need to be creative if you want to engage with audiences on this platform.
While you might want to keep an eye on Reddit or experiment with it, don't put all of your time and resources into it — at least right now. As it evolves, the platform may become an easier platform to market your brand on, but at the moment, Reddit marketing strategies still require more brainstorming and time than tactics on other social platforms.
Although this platform has been called one of the "trickiest" for marketers to crack, some bigger brands have figured out how to reach the platform's discussion-oriented users.
For example, some brands will create subreddits related to their product , while others will interact by commenting on threads related to their industry.
Aside from creating content for free on Reddit, you can alternatively pay into sponsored posts or ads, similarly to Facebook or Twitter. These ads will appear in a user's feed or as a promoted comment in a thread or subreddit.
To learn more about the ins and outs of Reddit marketing, click here for tips and examples of how other brands have cultivated the platform.
LinkedIn's platform, which emphasizes networking and career-related chatter, might be well-suited for product marketing in B2B, academic, or professional industries . People who do product research on this platform might be looking for a service, tool, or software that can either escalate their careers or make their workdays easier.
If you're marketing products like software, online courses, business-related publications, or anything that can help a professional or student do their job better, LinkedIn will be a great fit for you. However, if you sell more general, consumer-facing products like makeup or home decorations, you might want to put more marketing effort into other platforms on this list — like Facebook or Instagram.
While the professional nature of LinkedIn and its audience might not be suited for all brands, the platform still offers a variety of opportunities for brands to leverage it. For example, research shows that 80% of B2B leads come straight from LinkedIn .
LinkedIn is very similar to Facebook in that you can post about your product or service for free, or purchase ads or post promotion to get information about your business front and center on feeds. To see a few great ad examples, check out this post .
Twitter has approximately 200 million daily users from a variety of backgrounds, geographic locations, and industries. Its broad demographic might provide solid marketing opportunities to many different types of businesses. Because of its broad user base, you might want to create an account on Twitter and post regularly for brand awareness.
If you're interested in video marketing, you can also experiment with Twitter's live video feature and use it to film a tutorial or Q&A related to your product.
Aside from posting about your product for free, you can also pay into targeted ads or promoted tweets . Twitter claims that its advertising ROI is 40% higher than some other social channels .
While the ROI of Twitter advertising and its user base sounds promising, you might be wondering why it ranked so low on the poll shown above.
Ultimately, what might make Twitter rank last is its trend-oriented nature. The platform encourages people to connect with each other and post tweets or comments about current events, trending hashtags, or their thoughts on other specific topics.
Brands and product discussion are both prevalent on the platform, but users might go to Twitter to learn more about what's going on in the world, rather than new products. When people are asked to pick which platform they do the most product research on, it's not surprising that Facebook or YouTube might seem like a more obvious choice than Twitter.
While you should be on Twitter due to its sheer user base and advertising ROI, you'll want to keep its audience's need to stay trendy and informed in mind as you're creating posts and advertisements for the platform. This might help you make social content that both engages these audiences while still weaving in information about how valuable your product is.
Identifying the Right Platforms for Product Marketing
While running ads and product promotions on any social platform can help drive conversion, it’s a good idea to focus on platforms with audiences that already align well with your brand.
For example, broader audiences are actively looking for products or researching brands on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest while Reddit and Twitter users tend to be more trend-focused. Similarly, if you're marketing a B2B company, you might see a better ROI from ads on a professional network — like LinkedIn — than ads on a more consumer-friendly platform like Instagram.
Use the information provided above, and start leveraging social media for lead conversion and product marketing.
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