8 Shocking New Social Media Facts

I’m pleased to be a collaborator with Edison Research on the new Social Habit Project.  Why? Because I’m a numbers geek so I’m overjoyed to finally get some social media data we can trust! Here are eight fantastic facts from the Social Habit’s latest study.

1) 7 percent of Americans have never heard of Facebook

So on this one, can I hear a big ol’ what the HELL?  How can seven out of 100 people you see each day have no clue about Facebook?  The social network has dominated ALL media, not just social media, for a couple of years now.  TV. Magazines. The news. Even a movie. This is one mind-blowing fact. Who are these people? Even my mom knows about the “Facebox.”

2) 80 percent of Americans between the ages of 18-24 use this one product

Can you name any other branded product in the world that is used by 80 percent of the young people in the United States?  I asked this question in a class once and somebody shouted out “toilet paper.” Ha ha. Very funny. That’s not a brand.  But Facebook is, and the penetration of this single brand is beyond belief.   It seems like that fact alone might be a reason some people would want to invest in Facebook. They are just so … THERE.

3) Facebook acquired one new user in the U.S. every second for three years

Check out this growth rate between 2009 and 2012.  Over three years, Facebook acquired about 3,805 new users per hour. That equates to almost exactly one new user per second — and that’s just in the U.S.  I wish I had the server installation and maintenance contract for this outfit.

4) 74 million Americans are passive aggressive

If these numbers are to believed — and they are — 74 million Americans are at least somewhat concerned about privacy issues on Facebook.  That is one significant gaggle of people. Why is there no outcry? Why isn’t anybody DOING anything? How come there is no Occupy Facebook Movement?  Seems a little passive-aggressive to me.

5) Look to your left. Look to your right. One of you is a social media stalker.

So how many social media users are active on the network but NEVER post?  If you guessed about one-third it’s only because you looked at this graph first. Come on, you didn’t REALLY know that did you? I would have guessed about 5 percent. Shows how much I know. I guess I haven’t earned my guru merit badge yet.

6) Foursquare still sucks

Well maybe I took some liberty with that conclusion, but the data show that there has been a dramatic drop-off in both the use of location-based service and the amount of check-ins going on. Why?  Boresquare is not delivering enough value to its users. We want free pastries and we want them NOW. Here’s the bright side. It has never been easier to become the fake mayor of your favorite donut shop.

7) Companies are rapidly figuring out social media

I think this chart is a real-eye-popper.  Here’s my assumption.  Since 2010, human nature has not necessarily changed so that we are more open to “following” brands and companies.  I’m thinking that people aren’t waking up in the middle of the night with a cold sweat and a sudden realization that the simply MUST follow more brands on Facebook. The way I interpret this chart is that the brands are delivering more value so that people WANT to follow them. I think this is a pretty amazing validation that the money being spent on social media is at least having some impact on customer connections.

8. Content marketing is for real

Here’s another good news chart for marketers. A significant number of people are coming to our social media sites because they like the content, not just because they are getting a coupon.  I would like to see more research about this as far as loyalty to coupons versus content, attitudes, conversions, etc. but this is pretty encouraging.  Maybe there is an alternative to buying off fans and followers with daily discounts?

If you thought this information was interesting, wait until you see the whole report: The Social Habit.  It is very well done and has lots of pictures of Beyonce and Justin Bieber. Well. No it doesn’t. But I’m suggesting it for the next report, along with free pastries. Somebody has to do it.

Many thanks to my partners Jay Baer, Jason Falls and Tom Webster of Edison Research for collaborating on this project.

Now, here’s how you can get involved. What question did we NOT ask that needs to be included next time? Give it your best shot in the comment section!

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  • Interesting insights. Looking forward to read the whole report. I also really liked the last graph that a significant amount of people is paying attention to brands content. Maybe this is a sign where the future is heading? Did I understood the first graph correctly that more people have heard about G+ than LinkedIn?

    Thanks for this great post!

  • Yes, I think you got that right!

  • Awesome post! I’ve been working with a local salon on their Facebook site. I started by ramping up the frequency of posts with seasonal tips and relevant pictures. Now we’re starting to follow it up with Facebook exclusive deals and coupons. It’s nice to see research data that supports our strategy. Can’t wait for the next report!

  • The results from this collaborative project is extremely helpful for decision makers.

    Now, the answers to the question for me to consider joining, and remaining a social media advocate is… What impact does social media have on your personal, and professional growth?

    Thank you Mark for this opportunity to grow!

  • Congrats on that Henry. Well done!

  • If it were not for social media we would not be connected. To me, that is the business case for social media in a nutshell. i’m a better person for knowing you and the hundreds of wonderful new friends I have met through this channel.

  • Of course Mark! Thank you for your heartfelt reply ~Rae

  • I think the first fact is more like “7% of Americans don’t fill out surveys honestly”

  • Not sure I’d read it that way 🙂 Internet penetration in the US is about 86%–which means more people have heard of Facebook than could have ever *possibly* seen, or used it.

  • Great compilation, Mark. How about some data about what’s happening with social media in Latin America?

  • I just looked left and right. I found TWO social media stalkers.

    Good stats and I enjoyed your light take on some of it. Thanks for sharing!

  • What was the sample size for this survey? Thanks

  • This is very informative. For social media stalking, some people are there just to view family photos and keep in touch using private messages. I actually thought it would be greater than 34%.

  • >> Who are these people?

    These are the people you don’t know about ! They are the disadvantaged, the a-social, the “I live in a swamp” in (choose state) , the “i cant afford to be heard/on-line/accessible”,the” my first language is not English” and the I AM TOO BUSY LIVING A LIFE

    For this reason we can be pretty sure that the 7% in this category are under-represented – because they are the under-represented category !

    Some should be helped, some left in peace, some we should aspire to emulate, but all should be acknowledged – this survey does not !

    Now read observation 1) again and see if it makes you feel different .

  • Catherine Maguire

    I’m not very good with stats, but isn’t the sample of people (number of responses) following brands or products very small at 332 given the actual numbers using FB? Does a sample that size really give a true indication of what’s going on with that section?

  • Great stuff Mark! As a fellow data geek, I’m excited to see the full report, sans pictures of the Bieb, of course.

    How was the research done? I think that would be my question on the first question. If the research was not all digital in nature, perhaps Q1 would be more illuminating if there was a socioeconomic break down. There is still a digital divide in some communities and there are still issues with economic access. Perhaps this explains much of the 7% who haven’t heard of facebook. (Of course, if the surveys were all digital, ignore the above.)

    The other angle I think would be interesting would be overlaying a privacy question or more generally a “why” angle on the check-ins. I agree with you about the value, and I wonder if the “value” bar is higher on check-ins compared to FB or TW because the privacy concerns are greater.

  • Gettysburg Gerry

    I think they should run a survey on how many people don’t fill out surveys… Seriously, I thought the numbers on Facebook privacy were very interesting. While I strive to be secure, I stopped worrying about privacy long ago. What happens in your life stays on social media, if you post it…..

  • Rob Kravitz

    Interesting post Mark. I’m frequently warning my daughters to be careful what they post because many prospective employers are searching their FB and other online activity. Any stats on this?

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  • Love that idea.

  • Geez. You’re hanging out with the wrong crowd!

  • A very detailed explanation of the sample size, accuracy and methodology is included in the full report (which is free).

  • Wow, You’re ahead of me on that one. Thanks for the comment.

  • No. it doesn’t. i’m not being crass. I am just stunned that 7 percent of Americans have never heard of this ubiqitous name. Maybe 7 percent can;t name who the president is, either. Who knows, but I would be amazed at that too. I defend my right to be amazed. Thanks for taking the time to comment James.

  • I would defer to @webby2001 the expert statistician on this for an explanation but I am confident in the results based on the methodology. Good for you for questioning though.

  • This is a small sample of the report. I think once you read the report a lot of this will be filled in for you.

  • Thanks for the comment.

  • I haven’t seen stats, and of course many FB profiles are “private” but the HR professionals I have talked to tell me that your digital footprint is more important than your resume. I believe that too. Thanks Rob!

  • Mark – I must apologize unconditionally .
    (it is hard to convey tone with any clarity in comments)

    I did not mean to imply that you were being crass or insensitive.
    I am implying that a) we must be critical when we see data like this – which is almost certainly researched with some media-centric bias (of the survey and not of your good self – to distinguish clearly).
    b) The “see if you feel different” was perhaps aimed at your readers who may have taken the survey results at face value.
    I acknowledge that I am extremely subjectively biased (I am one of a smaller subset that reads blogs and comments on them) ( did you see the engag,io survey ? )http://blog.engag.io/2012/06/06/engagio-survey-commenting-more-important-than-sharing-and-replying-is-more-important-than-liking-or-sharing/
    But I am not amazed that this 7+ % exist though I also do not know, meet regularly or therefore sub-consciously consider these less aware – (but certainly not stupid) people.

    I think when we craft the future (as any exchange of ideas must) it behooves us to try to think inclusively – and it was that I was aiming to promote, rather than your turn of phrase that motivated my comment.

    I will be subscribing to your blog – you interest me 🙂 – and I am glad your blog came to my attention

  • Many thanks for the clarification and for reading my blog!

  • Among the data you share here along with observations, I see opportunity. The biggest, in my opinion, is proximitiy-based engagement. Although Foursquare may be considered “boresquare” (or “snoresquare”) by a majority of people, the concept (again in my opinion) possibly has the most potential of all. The main reason it may be losing steam is because both sides of the equation have not received, or earned, or invested in enough engagement. I’ve checked in at countless locations that have no idea or care that I am there while others welcome me with a creative message and sometimes a nice bonus for being there (or coming back).

    We are all somewhere at all times. That in itself is a wonderful opportunity on many levels for magic to happen. A kind word, a friendly gesture, a free lunch. Whatever.

    Proximity-based social media is, IMO, the next big thing. All it takes is for both sides of the equation to see the potential and invest in the relationship. You get only as much as you give and that’s a fair deal.

  • I have to make another comment because I have another idea (and some questions). I looked again at the chart titled “Check-in Frequency Wanes” and the data doesn’t agree 100% with the title. Of those 18% that are avid particpants, it was VERY consistent from 2011 to 2012. 18% of the general population that is avid about anything is an audience most marketers would not ignore or overlook.

    In fact these 18% probably include a high percentage of the early adapter, influencer, loyal user profiles that are most desirable for most marketers.

    One of the questions I have about the chart is the baseline that tops out at 60.
    Is that the total number of subjects or does it not reach 100 because the chart would be too wide and because the top % on the chart is 57% and all the space to the right would be empty? OR is 18 the number of responses among 60 that are highly active and persistant check-me-in-here-and-now types? If so, then almost a third of the population is checking in a lot.

  • interesting report with a lot to digest

  • krusk

    Does anyone else find it hilarious that a whopping 47% of respondents “don’t know” why the follow brands? A little shocking it’s the second most popular answer…

  • Pavel Konoplenko

    Great post as usual. I do feel that Foursquare isn’t getting enough love by the general population (especially those living in a big city). I recently started using Foursquare actively and it helped me discover so many great places, particularly food places. It’s great to see Foursquare try to rebrand themselves as a city exploration network with its more streamlined features and map. In the last 3 months I visited a dozen great eateries that I doubt I would have found otherwise. There is so much potential for Foursquare as they continue with their rebranding. Business too must try to utilize this service (it is after all, free for them, with minimal upkeep).

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  • Mike Jones

    I think they should run a survey on how many people don’t fill out
    surveys… Seriously, I thought the numbers on Facebook privacy were
    very interesting. While I strive to be secure, I stopped worrying about
    privacy long ago. What happens in your life stays on social media, if
    you post it…..

  • Great work guys! The one question (at least for now *S*) I’d like to have answered is “Why do people (you) use Facebook?).

  • Cool info…glad to see that FB is still tops ’cause that’s where I put a ton of energy, along with Twitter and my writing and #DadChat!

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  • Slt

    I agree with most of your argument, except that Facebook is available in a ton of languages.

  • Slt

    I have to disgree with the term stalker, which may be there to be catchy. “Lurker” I’d the term most often used in new media research.

  • Mike Jones

    Does anyone else find it hilarious that a whopping 47% of respondents
    “don’t know” why the follow brands? A little shocking it’s the second
    most popular answer…

  • I can’t wait to hear more of these ideas over a beer soon Billy. These srvices need to crank up the value.

  • I’ll ask @twitter-755294:disqus to weigh in on this?

  • Thanks.

  • Lots of mysteries on the social web : )

  • Agree that Foursquare has some work to do to improve their relevancy!

  • Thanks for commenting Mike.

  • Would be interesting to see the change in that over time

  • Sure! Thanks for the question, @billymitchell:disqus . The base for that graph is not the population, but those Americans 12+ who have ever “checked-in” with a location posting status update. That percentage is flat at about 3% of Americans 12+. As far as the scale of the bar graph, it is essentially a composition graph. LBS users had to select one option for the amount they check in–almost every time, sometimes, or never. While the “almost every time” remained the same (there is a hard core group of checker-inners, which is 18%…of the 3% of Americans who use these services) there was a dramatic swing with the “sometimes” and “never” folks.

    Given that the % who have ever done it (again, 3%) stayed the same, and the percentage who do it “always” is unchanged, then we can look at the behaviors of the “Nevers” and “Sometimes” with an apples-to-apples comparison. And this year, lots of the “sometimes” folks converted to “never.” Hence the headline.
    Hope that helps?

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  • This helps for sure. I find that 18% as interesting as those with diminished activity. Unless my math is wrong, 18% of 3% would be .0054 or half of 1%. That’s one of every 200 people over 12 that check-in consistently.

    I wonder how this group compares to others regarding their level of influence. Are they sharing their check-ins on Facebook and/or twitter? Are they leaving comments or taking Instagram photos of their food or whatever? Are they being acknowledged and/or rewarded by their location or just doing it to put a virtual flag in the ground to say “I’m here. Jealous?”

    I may be way wrong, and it may be something beyond Foursquare, but I believe proximity based social media has the most potential of all. Whether we are on location or online, we are all somewhere all the time.

    And for some unknown reason to me, i really like being the Mayor of Duck’s Cosmic although I’ve never received an award other than the badge for a day or two and elevation of my easily affected level of self-esteem.

  • We’ve experimented with Foursquare as both users and location hosts. I know from first-hand experience as a marketing agency looking for ways our clients can better implement a program, it isn’t as easy as it could be or should be. Let’s get those beers sooner than later!

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  • mac

    Did anyone in your class say “Kleenex” for q #2 ?

  • Enjoyed this post. Interesting stats.

  • #6 was hilarious and true! I am interested in seeing how #8 evolves and whether the numbers increase on the content side.

    Side note, well done on injecting humour into the post!

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