The Marketing Impact of Social Media

There’s no denying it at this point – social media sites aren’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future. As much as people talk about the declining trend of Facebook or the assumption that “my market doesn’t use social media”, there’s plenty of information out there to strongly suggest otherwise.

I always like to take statistics with a grain of salt. My mom always used to tell me that “you can beat up numbers and get them to tell you whatever you want.” And, of course, there’s Mark Twain’s quote – “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics.” That said, there are some assumptions that we can make about the marketing impact of social media and who we can reach using it with the right plan and message in place.

Note: The information being sourced comes from Pew Research Center and their Social Media Update 2014, a survey conducted in September of 2014.

Social Media Platforms

According to Pew Research’s survey, multi-platform use is expanding with more than half of adults who use the Internet are now using two or more social media sites. They’re not just on Facebook anymore – now it’s Facebook and Instagram or LinkedIn or Twitter.

Not surprisingly Facebook’s growth has slowed down in comparison to sites like Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Frankly, I’m surprised it didn’t happen a few years ago. They’re coming pretty close to total coverage – 71% of Internet users are on Facebook – and that rate apparently didn’t change from August of 2013 to the time that this survey was taken in September of 2014.

What Does This Mean for You?

If you’re planning on doing any marketing on the Internet, you’ve got to find a way to engage through social media. Facebook is still number one and that’s not going anywhere but tools like LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram can really help you get your message out in different ways. Make sure that you have a specific plan on how you will use each platform, though. Because they all cater to different audiences in different ways, you can’t be generic – no one wants to see your cat playing a piano on LinkedIn.

Who’s Using Social Media

The demographics of social media are something that I always find interesting. The makeup of adults 18 and over who use the Internet is becoming more tech savvy every day and there are more and more of them getting involved in the social media world as well.

Just over half of young adults using social media (the 18-29 demographic) are using Instagram and about half of them are using it daily. Women are by far the primary users of Pinterest (42% of online women compared to 13% of online men) and 50% of college educated users are now on LinkedIn.

What was a bit surprising, however, was the percentage of seniors who are now using social media. According to their survey, 56% of online seniors (65 and up) are now on Facebook, which represents 31% of all seniors!

What Does This Mean for You?

Whomever you’re trying to market to – they’re well represented on social media so I’ll say it again, if the Internet is a part of your marketing strategy, social media has to be a part of it as well. Right now 31% of all seniors are on Facebook and that number is only going to grow. With the baby boomer generation about to hit (or having already hit) the 65+ mark, we’re going to see that number skyrocket in the next few years.


Engagement is a tricky term these days. It’s been coopted by the social media community to mean simple interactions with your brand (likes, comments, shares). When I speak of engagement, I look toward how many people are finding their way to your website or contacting you through your social media channels. In this case, engagement means how often are these platforms being used.

Of the 71% of Internet users who are on Facebook, a whopping 70% of them are on Facebook every day. Many of them find themselves on the platform multiple times throughout the course of the day. Almost half of Instagram users log on to their accounts daily and not even a fifth (17%) of Pinterest users are using their sites regularly.

What Does This Mean for You?

There’s a lot of opportunity to engage with your market segment across social media channels. Facebook is, once again, the biggest, but don’t let that deter you from leveraging other platforms as well, particularly those that leverage Facebook for community building automatically.

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Posted in Digital Marketing, Growth, Ian's Library, Nonprofits, Social Media, Startups.

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