From the Six Degrees network in the late 90s to the social media we know today, we finish our celebration of the social internet’s 21st year by exploring how attitudes differ in line with the time people spend on social media, and what this means for brand communication.

Looking at the self-perceptions where Heavy Social Media Users over-index points to a “cosmopolitan” audience who value travel, different cultures and who aren’t afraid to explore the world around them.

Heavy Users are 23% more likely than average to want to work and live abroad and agreement with this increases in line with time spent on social media.

Similarly, they’re also much more likely than Light/Non Users to have an interest in travel and cultures. This shows how inspirational platforms like Instagram can be “eye-openers” to the world, different cultures and are especially important in the promotion of travel.

Elsewhere, we see that fashion, trends and group-belonging are most important to the heaviest social networkers. Heavy Users are twice as likely as Non-Users to value keeping up with the latest fashions, and to say they would buy a product to be part of the community built around it – and agreement with both these statements increases in line with time spent on social media.

Social platforms are clearly channels where users become influenced by the latest fashions and what is “cool”.

The most engaged social networkers are impressionable to brands that can boost their social standing and allow them to fit in with their friends. Just under a fifth of Heavy Users say they want brands to make them feel cool or trendy, which compares to just 11% of those who don’t use social media at all.

For brands and marketers, this points to the importance of capitalizing on the latest trends, as well as encouraging user-generated content and gaining positive brand advocates. Heavy Users are both more likely to tell their friends about new products (61% do), and to be easily swayed by the opinions of others (40%). So it’s easy to see how successfully appealing to this community can bring about big rewards for brands and marketers.

For information on how these segments are defined, click here.


Written by

Katie is a Strategic Insights Manager at GWI. Moving to the company 4 years ago, Katie heads up the Strategic Insights team, overseeing the production of bespoke assets for clients. Katie also writes on GWI's blog, with a particular interest in social media and marketing.

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