Social media has revolutionized the way we interact with brands. With its ever-expanding importance in the lives of consumers, its prominence is increasing across every stage of the customer journey.

Our latest wave of research uncovers some surprising truths and key learnings for marketers to tap into and engage these consumers. Here, we take a closer look at the social trends shaping 2018.

1. There’s no digital audience that can’t be reached via social media.

While some marketers are under the assumption that it’s mostly younger internet users you can reach through social media, our latest statistics prove this simply isn’t the case.

In fact, being an internet user now means being a social networker.

98% of digital consumers are social media users and figures are consistently high among 55-64s, with 94% of this age group actively using the platforms. These figures show that there’s practically no digital audience that cannot be reached via social media today.

2. 1 in every 3 minutes spent online is devoted to social media.

Globally, digital consumers are now spending an average of two hours and 15 minutes a day on social networks and messaging.

This means one in every three minutes of online time is dedicated to these activities.

Despite all age groups being social media users, it’s the younger consumers who are proving to be the most enthusiastic users, with 16-24 year-olds devoting an average of two hours and 58 minutes to social media every day.

3. Over half of social media users are ‘Brand Followers’.

Social media is a key consumer touchpoint and an essential channel for brands looking to increase their following.

Almost 4 in 10 internet users say they’re following their favorite brands on social media, while a quarter are following brands from which they’re thinking of making a purchase from.

This tells us many social networkers are happy to be exposed to branded content on their newsfeeds, proving the value that lies in having an active social presence that positions a brand in the right way.

4. Social media is a key channel for consumer research.

16-24 year-olds are now more likely to use social media to research brands than search engines.

This shows how social is expanding its influence across the purchase journey, now firmly making its claim over the research phase.

A quarter of 16-24s say that seeing a brand or product with a lot of ‘likes’ would encourage them to buy something, and even among 35-44s, it’s a fifth who say so.

This demonstrates the increasing potential for social commerce to act as a major revenue generator for marketers, and an important way to diversify revenue streams beyond advertising.

5. News and entertainment are big reasons for using social media.

While staying in touch with friends consistently tops the list of reasons for consumers to use social media, they’re now almost as likely to use them for keeping up with the news.

This shift aligns with the evolution of social networks into multi-media platforms, offering clear potential for publishers to expand their reach across these channels.

6. Internet users are mostly accessing social media via their mobiles.

In the realm of social media, the smartphone is now king.

Having seen a sharp increase in engagement over the past few years, mobile has taken over as the number one access point for social media.

Despite the fact that users are still using computers to access these platforms at least some of the time, PC/laptops are declining as social devices.

This shows it’s more important than ever for marketers to implement a mobile-first strategy across the board and to stand out from the crowd with innovative mobile strategies.

7. Video watching on social media is now a mainstream activity.

Virtually all social networkers have watched a video clip online in the last month and a great deal of this is happening on social media.

56% of Facebookers have watched a video on Facebook in the last month, as have about 4 in 10 Snapchat and Instagram users.

As more people become acclimatized to consuming video on social networks, clear opportunities are arising for Facebook and other platforms to move aggressively into the world of TV. We’ve already seen this to an extent through Facebook’s recent partnership with FOX Sports which allowed them to stream the UEFA Champions League.

8. Facebook dominates the social landscape, but not for visitation.

Globally, Facebook remains the dominant social platform when it comes to membership, with 90% of internet users being members of at least one of its four main services.

For visitation however, it’s YouTube that claims the top spot.

Despite this, Facebook can still boast having one of the best ratios of members to visitors, with the vast majority of members visiting the site in some way, even if only 52% consider themselves to be actively engaging with or contributing to it.

Elsewhere, Instagram has now taken its lead ahead of Twitter among 16-44s.


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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