The use of social media continues to increase around the world and in the United States with 8 out of 10 internet users currently making use of social media, according to a new study by InSites Consulting.
The new study shows that the use of social media is stimulated by the increasing use of the number of smartphones in the world. "Consumers with a smartphone make more intensive use of social networking sites than those without a mobile Internet connection. People with a smartphone are also more open to conversing with brands," the study shows.
Facebook remains by far the most popular site (7 in 10 are active on Facebook), followed by Twitter (25%) and LinkedIn (24%). The study by InSites Consulting also shows that smartphones lead to further growth of social media. 44 percent of U.S. internet users have a smartphone with an internet subscription, 17 percent have a tablet. The increase in the number of smartphones and tablets causes an increase in the use of social media. 73 percent of people with mobile Internet use social media every day, this is 63 percent for people without a mobile connection. Social media applications are also quite popular, the report says.
Pinterest and Instagram are the stars of the future, the InSites Consulting study says, confirming the popularity of the big three social networking sites. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are still the biggest in the U.S. and around most of the world as well.
It is moreover difficult for new social networking sites to quickly match the success of these three. The study shows that the average consumer is a member of two social networking sites. Usually this is Facebook and another site.
Moreover, 95 percent of these users do not plan to leave and 60 percent do not want to create a new account. However, the study found two exceptions: Pinterest and Instagram. 10 percent of U.S. internet users use Pinterest and 7 percent use Instagram. Both sites have the greatest growth potential and a large group of people are considering using these sites in the future, the study reports.
"Consumers are clearly satisfied with the current offer of social networking sites. Only a small group of consumers keeps wanting something new. The vast majority prefer a status quo. Only sites that add something new arouse interest. This explains the success and potential of Instagram and Pinterest. Both sites offer something neither Facebook, Twitter nor LinkedIn have, hence the interest of consumers," explains Niels Schillewaert, PhD, Managing Partner of InSites Consulting, New York.
Consumers want to help companies on social media, the study notes. "A striking finding in this study is to what a great extent consumers are willing to help businesses. Half (53%) of U.S. social network users follow at least one brand. On average, users follow 15 brands passively and 6 brands interactively. Consumers expect these brands to primarily provide information about their products, launch attractive promotions and involve consumers to improve products."
"81% of U.S. internet users want to help brands and give them advice. They prefer doing so through a form of structural collaboration, ‘consumer consulting boards’ (or communities) - more than 65 percent want to do so through a form of online communities. Consumers would prefer to help existing products (73%) and services (64%) improve, but also want to help think about the products of the future (65%)," the report says.
"Most companies think only about the number of fans and likes, but not about active collaboration with customers. This is a missed opportunity. Consumers generate more and faster information than ever before, but also better and more complete information due to the fact that they integrate different media," Schillewaert said.
" By using mobile devices and electronics consumers also generate contextual consumption information that is illustrative and generated in the heat of the moment. Research communities or ‘consumer consulting boards’ offer a unique platform to engage consumers in the strategy of a company. Consumers want and can provide value for new product development, but also for the development of advertising and content marketing. Unfortunately, most companies do not yet see this opportunity," concludes Schillewaert.