Published on August 20, 2015
1. 1 Assignment 1: Comparison of Social Networking Sites Prepared by Bonnie Elaine Mager ID: 5662832 [email protected] In fulfilment of Diploma in Social Media Marketing This paper is referenced using the Harvard referencing style.
2. 2 Social media is like teen sex. Everyone wants to do it. No one actually knows how. When finally done, there is surprise it’s not better - Kaushik 2009 Introduction Social networking has transformed in its form over the last 18 years. Today, social networking can be defined as; a web service in which people can build a profile, share information and connect with other users (Lang 2013). The advent of social networking began in 1997 with the now defunct Six Degrees.com - which shut down in 2001 (Ellison 2007). Since then, social networking has exploded worldwide with a variety of providers. Social networking is a rapidly growing industry. In 2005 just 5% of American adults used social networking sites, compared to 50% in 2011 (Goldman 2013). Not only are more Americans engaging in social media than ever before, but they are also dedicating more time each day doing so. In 2006 the average amount of time Americans spent on social media was 2.7 hours a day, compared to 6.9 hours a day in 2011 (Delaney et al 2012). The fastest growing user group is those aged over 55; Between 2009 and 2010 the amount of those aged over 55 using social networking grew from 1 million to 10 million (Goldman 2013). Each social network benefits from targeting its own distinct niche through the features it offers; this creates social communities unique to each site. As technology has advanced, so has the ways in which people access social media. With the advent of smart phones and tablets, the percentage of people using mobile devices to access social networking sites is increasing . PC access however is decreasing. In 2011 97% of people accessed social networking though PC, which dropped to 94% in 2013 (Legatt 2013). Complimentary to this, access to social networking on mobile devices is increasing: In the USA alone, social networking accesses on Smartphone apps increased by 37% and on smart phone web browsers by 26% (The Nielsen Company 2014). This report will compare three social networking sites; Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. It will examine the functionality of each site, the demographics of who uses them and will analyse how to
3. 3 use this data to determine which social networking site is more suited for certain types of advertising and campaigns. Social Networking Case Study 1: Facebook Brief history Launched in 2004 under the name “The Facebook”, it aimed to be the go to website where Harvard University students could connect and communicate with one another (Phillips 2007). In September 2005 registration opened to students worldwide, growing the site’s popularity and reach. A year later the educational email requirement was relinquished, and anyone with a valid email address was able to register (Facebook Newsroom 2015). Since then, Facebook has developed into the site as we know it today. In June 2010 the “like” button was introduced, and in September 2011 the timeline feature first appeared. In 2012 Facebook became a publicly traded company; it’s IPO of over $104 billion was one of the largest in internet history. User Base Facebook is by far the largest and most popular social networking site. As of the end of 2014, Facebook had over 1.30 billion active users, approximately 17% of the human population (figure 1). Of those, two thirds of all online users use Facebook regularly (Duggan and Brenner 2013). 1390 1230 1056 845 608 360 145 58 12 6 1 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 Number of monthy facebook users (millions) Year Figure 1: Total number of monthly active Facebook users, in millions, 2004-2014
4. 4 Geographical spread Facebook is no longer an American dominated social network, with over 82.5% of all Facebook users now residing outside of the US and Canada (Facebook Newsroom 2015). The continent with the largest percentage of Facebook users is now Asia-Pacific (figure 2). Figure 2: Worldwide daily active users of Facebook, in millions, each quarter 2012-2104 (Facebook 2015). Broken down by country, in 2013 the United States had the highest number of Facebook users; Brazil and India following close behind (table 1). Table 1: Top 10 countries with the most Facebook users in the world (2014 Country Ranker 2014) Country Users in May 2013 (Million) United States 982.18 Brazil 71.75 India 63.9 Indonesia 47.89 Mexico 42.38 Turkey 32.8 United Kingdom 31.16 Philippines 30.36 France 25.35 Germany 24.95 Although originally limited to the United States, Facebook has flourished worldwide to become a world-wide social network.
5. 5 Demographic spread Originally aimed at college aged students, the age of Facebook users has shifted to older users with the largest proportion of Facebook users being those ages 18-34 (figure 3). Trends show however, that the largest growth of Facebook users is the 45+ age group, while the number of those under 18 using Facebook is dropping (Meyer Foundation 2014). Facebook always has, and continues to be, more popular with woman (Duggan & Brenner 2013) In 2015, 53% of US Facebook users were female compared to 46% Male (Meyer Foundation 2014). This trend is similar worldwide, with 54% of New Zealand Facebook users in 2014 being female and 46% male (Osborne 2014). This ratio has remained relatively unchanged since 2009. There is also a general trend with New Zealand Facebook users that as users get older, the percentage of females using Facebook gets higher, (Osborne 2014). Demographic Snapshot: Female aged 18-34 with kids and no college education earning under $50,00 USD. The accessibility of Facebook, its ease of use, and its focus on connecting people with friends and family are all important factors when analysing the demographics of its site users. A lot of Facebook content is sharing photos and updates of what is happening in people’s lives, which is an important factor for the emerging over 55 group who are wanting to keep in touch with children and grandchildren. Facebook is extremely social and is an easy and inexpensive way to maintain a social life. 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 13 - 17 18 - 24 25 - 34 35 - 54 55+ Numberofusers (millions) Age of users Figure 3: Number of Facebook users by age (Brodzky 2014).
6. 6 Site Features Facebook has an emphasis on visual content (Meyer Foundation 2014). A large proportion of a profile page is taken up by a cover photo and profile photo. When logging into a Facebook account, the first key feature noticed is the timeline feature. Content from all friends, and those you follow, is displayed on the timeline with visual content being the most prominent. However, due to the large amount of posts daily, not all posts by those people followed will end up on their timeline. Facebook filters content so that those that initially perform well and have high engagement are given more exposure than those that aren’t (The Meyer Foundation 2014). Facebook allows users to not only connect to friends and family, but they have the ability to subscribe to celebrities and other public figures without becoming their friends. They can also follow Businesses to learn of upcoming offers and participate in competitions and discussions. For business, the Facebook insights section is extremely useful. It displays the demographics of page followers and information of when they access Facebook, how they access it, and where from (figure 4). Figure 4: Screenshot showing the age and genders of Invercargill City Libraries followers on Facebook using the insights function. The lists of features that Facebook has are long. Users can share; photos, videos, links, and more. They can chat to each other in private messages, or group messages. There are apps to play, pages to create, groups to attend etc. People can create an invitation to a real life event in the events
7. 7 section and invite people who can then let the host know whether they will attend or not. If people upload photos or status about friends, they can “tag” them in the photo so that it also appears on their timeline and to their friends. People can be classified into lists, and content shared only with particular group and if they want to be extremely annoying people can “poke” each other which does nothing more than send them a message saying “you have been poked”. This is only a snapshot of the breadth of activities and functions Facebook offers. All these feature work together to create a highly popular social networking site. Compared to other social networking sites, Facebook is the most engaging with 65% of Facebook users accessing the site once a day and 40% accessing it more than once a day (Duggan and Smith 2014). Social Networking Case Study 2: Twitter Brief history Twitter was founded by Jack Dorsey, Ev Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass (Greene 2014). It first launched in 2006 with a tweet by founded Jack Dorsey on March 21 saying: “just setting up my twttr” (Greene 2014). Originally called ‘twttr” it changed its name to twitter in 2007 and by then 400,000 tweets were being sent a day per quarter, which rapidly rose to 100 million tweets per quarter in 2008 (Greene 2014). As popularity of the service continued to sky rocket, Twitter announced a new function in 2008 allowing celebrities and those in the public eye to “verify” their accounts. In September 2010 twitter underwent a facelift, making the largest interface change at that stage in the history of twitter. This facelift continued into 2012 when the new “Larry the bird” logo was rolled out. By November 7th , 2013 Twitter was so popular that it opened on the New York Stock Exchange valued at 31 billion dollars after one day. The next big aesthetic change occurred in February 2014, where profiles trialled a look similar to Facebook timelines which stands today (Greene 2014).
8. 8 User Base With over 500 million tweets sent per day, Twitter boasts a user base of 288 million active users a month (figure 5). Geographical spread Twitter is a worldwide social network with the highest percentage of users (32.8%) located in Asia- Pacific (eMarketer 2014) where it is experiencing its highest growth, while the percentage of American users is decreasing (figure 6). Figure 6: Percentage of active twitter users by region from 2012, forecasting to 2018 (eMarketer 2014). When broken down by country, the United States has over half of all twitter users (see table 2), and the majority of user countries in the top 10 are western countries. 255 204 138 68 30 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 Number of monthly twitter users (millions) Year Figure 5: Total number of monthly active Twitter users (as of the first quarter of the year), in millions, 2010 – 2014 (Hashmeta 2013; Twitter 2015)
9. 9 Table 2: Top 10 countries with most active twitter users in 2014 (2014 Country Ranker 2014). Country % of Twitter users United States 50.99 United Kingdom 17.09 Australia 4.09 Brazil 3.44 Canada 2.92 India 2.87 France 1.76 Indonesia 1.43 Iran 0.88 Ireland 0.85 Demographic spread Twitter is dominated by teens and young adults with 66% of its users aged under 24. Figure 7: Percentage of active twitter users by age in 2014 (eMarketer 2014). Unlike other social media websites, the gender of twitter users reflects the general population, giving it a fairly equal gender distribution (Duggan and Brenner 2013). Demographic Snapshot: Female aged 20-24 with a college degree earning over $75,000 USD. Twitters role as a collective media commentator, and unbiased news provider means it naturally has a higher appeal for those who are more educated. Twitter encourages people to be more involved in the world and to learn from and listen to “experts”. It is also a valuable professional tool, where those in similar fields find and follow each other to exchange links and insights about what is going on in their profession.
10. 10 Site Features Unlike most social networking sites, Twitter is more of a “microblogging” site (Morris 2009). Users share photos, videos and text through “tweets” which are packages of information limited to 140 characters. This encourages users to be succinct and to highlight only the important messages. The attractiveness of twitter is its simplicity. For each profile, users have only 3 options; to follow, unfollow or block. Communication between others is simple, in the form of a reply, retweet, favourite or mention; each with their own unique uses and merits. Twitter was also the hash tag pioneer. When tweeting about current events, celebrities, and other popular topics, users can place a hash symbol in front of the topic. This allows other users to click on this topic word, and find other tweets about the same thing (figure 8). This hashtag is great in promoting discussion on events and topics ad following what others have to say about the matter. Unlike Facebook, twitter does not allow users to track demographical information about their followers, and an external application is needed for this making it harder for businesses if they are trying to gain demographic information about their followers. Twitter content is 47% news, and is a great source of information of local and global events as they happen, as told by who is there rather than by a news station or blogger who may have a certain agenda or bias – giving a different perspective that the media often portrays. Social Networking Case Study 3: LinkedIn Brief history Launched in 2003 by Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn started off slow with as little as 20 sign ups a day in the first few months. It wasn’t until the end of 2003, when the ability to add friends from the address book was established that user numbers began to take off (Linkedin 2015). From here, Figure 8: An example of how a hashtag displays in Twitter when clicked on.
11. 11 features were added slowly with groups introduced in 2004 and public profiles in 2005. It was in 2005 when LinkedIn was finally able to boast its first profits. The site took off when the “people you may know” function launched in 2006, and by 2008 French and Spanish versions of the site were rolled out (Linkedin 2015) In 2010 there were 100 million LinkedIn users which lead to its unveiling on the stock exchange in 2011. As of today, LinkedIn has over 347 million users (LinkedIn 2015). User Base As of the end of 2014, LinkedIn has over 347 million members, and is still a fast growing social network (figure 9). Geographical spread LinkedIn has a wide geographical spread, with members from over 200 countries in the world (LinkedIn 2015). In 2014, LinkedIn was available in twenty-three different languages, and is the largest professional social media site in the world (LinkedIn 2015). In the last quarter of 2014, 75% of new members were from outside of the United States (LinkedIn 2015). Figure 9 shows the geographical spread of LinkedIn users. 0 100 200 300 400 2014 2012 2010 2008 2006 2004 Total Number of members (millions) Year Figure 9: Total number of LinkedIn users in millions (LinkedIn 2015) Figure 9: The geographical spread of LinkedIn users at the beginning of 2015 (LinkedIn 2015).
12. 12 As with the previous two social networking sites analysed, the United States has the highest number of users per country (table 3). Table 3: Top 10 countries with most LinkedIn users in 2014 (LinkedIn 2015). Country Number of LinkedIn Users United States 111,455,003 India 29,169,586 Brazil 29,169,586 United Kingdom 17,439,495 Canada 10,785,924 France 8,690,538 Italy 7,719,987 Mexico 6,855,808 Spain 6,794,241 Australia 6,618,597 Demographic spread Currently, LinkedIn has over 39 million university students and recent graduates who are users, and they are the fastest growing user demographic on this social network (LinkedIn 2015). However, the largest age demographic on LinkedIn is the 30-49 years age group with over 81 million members (Table 4). Compared to other social networks, LinkedIn has the oldest age demographic with over 100 million users over 50 and also one of the most affluent with more than 60% of LinkedIn users earning over $75,000 USD a year (Brodzky 2014). Table 4: Age demographic of LinkedIn Users 2014 (Duggan and Smith 2014) Age Demographic Number of Users Percentage of Users 18-29 45 Million 19% 30-49 81 Million 34% 50-64 72 Million 30% 65+ 39 Million 16%
13. 13 Gender spread, like the other social networking site, is arguably harder to capture, and varies depending on each source. The majority of research seems to imply that the majority of LinkedIn users are male at around 59% of all LinkedIn users (Valkenburg 2013). Demographic snapshot: Males aged 30-49, with no children, earning over $75,000USD a year with a graduate or post-graduate qualification. Site Features LinkedIn users create a profile to emphasize their professional lives. It focuses on their jobs and skills. Similar to an online CV, users catalogue their work experience, educational achievements, and professional skills. Professional skills have the ability to be “endorsed” by other LinkedIn members (Figure 10). By endorsing a skill, users are using their professional profile and knowledge to advocate that these users do indeed have these skills, acting as an informal reference. Figure 10 Screenshot of the skills and endorsements section of a LinkedIn profile. Instead of making “friends” users make “connections” with people they know and others in their fields. These connections are used by LinkedIn to create a recommendation service whereby users can find others in their field to connect with. Like Facebook, there is an option to join interest groups and interact with other LinkedIn users who may not necessarily be one of their connections. Being a professionally focused social networking site, LinkedIn often sends users relevant job vacancies located nearby. LinkedIn can be a valuable platform to obtain a job.
14. 14 Comparisons In summary, the demographics of each of the three aforementioned social networking sites are variable. Facebook has the most active monthly users with over 1.4 billion compared to 288 million on Twitter and 187 million on LinkedIn (figure 11). Twitter has the highest percentage of users in the United States, with 51% of all users living there compared to 32% of LinkedIn users and only 18% of Facebook users (figure 12). Twitter and Facebook are more popular with females with LinkedIn being the only 1 of the 3 social networking sites studied to have a larger proportion of male users (figure 13). Figure 11: The number of active monthly users on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as of March 2015. Figure 12: The percentage of site users located either in or outside of the United States of America on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as of March 2015. Figure 13: The Gender of users on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The hardest part about trying to compare the ages of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn users is that the age brackets of released data varies due to the unique age distribution of each sites users. Looking at the raw data (Figure 3 and 7 and Table 4), we see that Twitter and Facebook skew their 0 500 1000 1500 2000 Facebook Twitter Linkedin MontlyActiveUsers (Millions) Social Networking Site 0% 50% 100% Facebook Linkedin Twitter Percentage of Users SocialNetworkingSite US NON US 48% 46% 59% 52% 54% 41% 0% 50% 100% Twitter Facebook Linkedin Percentage of Users SocialNetworkingSite Male Female
15. 15 data so that the older ages are grouped into larger ranges, while the younger ages have been separated out into smaller age ranges. This can be explained by the higher proportion of young users those two sites have. LinkedIn, however, has a much older user base and is the only one of the three where “over 55’ is a large enough age bracket, that it can be split into two separate age categories. Figure 14, although dated, can be used as a visual aid to show the general social networking trends talked about above; Twitter users are the youngest and LinkedIn users are the oldest. Figure 14: The ages of users on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (Richter 2013) Personal Experiences As a digital native and social media enthusiast, I also have experiences in all three aforementioned social networking site having been on Facebook since July 2007, Twitter since November 2008 and LinkedIn since March 2010 (see figure 15).
16. 16 Figure 15: Snapshot of my three social networking accounts, each tailored for their unique uses. By far my most used social networking site is Facebook. This is due to the nature of why I use it. Having grown up in Invercargill, studied for 6 years in Dunedin, and living in Wellington for my first job my friends and family are now sprawled around New Zealand. Facebook gives me the opportunity to talk to them and share my life with them. Not only is this the social networking site where most of the people I want to contact are members, but I love the ease in which I can share information. With one status and I can have everyone know that information, rather than having to contact them all individually. In terms of businesses, I follow; my power supplier, internet provider, mobile provider as well as some of my favourite shops such as the Mighty Ape. I like that with Facebook, all of their latest deals come straight to me. Mighty Ape would have to be my favourite site to follow as it always has gaming discussions I enjoy, and lots of giveaways and prizes for participating in their social media discussions (see figure 16). This is a smart move, I have won a few prizes and participated in some great events and competitions run through the Mighty Ape Facebook, and this has grown a brand loyalty in me and I exclusively buy my games and gaming Paraphernalia from them. Figure 16: Mighty Ape encouraging discussion on their Facebook page with prize incentives.
17. 17 If I want to contact a business with a query or complaint however, I am much more likely to use Twitter. I will use it to see if a service is down, if I am unsatisfied with their service and equally if I receive great service from them (see figure 17) Figure 17: Example of personal use of twitter to contact businesses The best thing about twitter is that you are much more likely to get an instant reply. While more people may see your complaint if you put it on the Facebook, these sites tend to be monitored less regularly, and so feedback can take an annoyingly long time to receive. After years with a personal twitter (which is now private) I adapted my twitter use in 2013 as a valuable PD tool. I use it at conferences and during the work day to share updates in my field, keep in contact with those I have met though work training and conferences and promote my work to others who have the same interests. I also have the work twitter linked with my own on my mobile device, so that even outside of work hours if there is a patron complaint or query I can respond to it as soon as possible for the best possible customer satisfaction (figure 18). Work hours no longer apply in the world of social media. Figure 18: Example of using work twitter outside of work hours
18. 18 LinkedIn is the social networking site I use the least. This is because; at this stage I have a job and only use it as an online portfolio. The last time it was give a good update was when I was applying for my current role, as I used it in my application. However, when new things happen, such as volunteer work I took on, or beginning this course, I add them in and about once a month I go on and endorse other member’s skills and search for new connections. I am slowly building this up for when I begin my overseas job hunt next year. Social networking is an important part of my day to day life. It is becoming key in how I communicate and share information with others. To summarise, I use Facebook several times a day and is a private, personal profile to keep in touch with friends and let them know how I am doing as well as keeping up to date with what’s happening with companies, or shops I frequent. I use Twitter once a day to keep up to date with people in my field, gain inspiration for work ideas and share what I am doing professionally and finally, I use LinkedIn once a month for the positive digital footprint. I update it as needed and am using it to slowly build up a successful online portfolio which will hopefully help me in the future with my job progression. Discussion Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn each have their own unique social networking niches, each which serves its own user base in a unique way. When establishing a social networking account, it is important to analyse exactly what it is you want to gain from this before choosing the appropriate one for you. For connecting with friends and family and sharing your daily updates with them, the social network of choice would be Facebook. Facebook is designed to make sharing stories, photos and videos with friends as simple as possible, hence the growing number of older users. Facebook is a valuable social network to engage with loved ones who have moved to new locations and new privacy settings mean that Facebook is now a much safer place to do so. If you want to share and read about current events and news, and want a social network with helps you keep informed and connected with brands, media outlets, and celebrities then Twitter is the
19. 19 social network you should choose. This microblogging site is 47% news, and daily trending topics highlight the current event emphasis of this site. Twitter is a valuable way to keep track of events as they happen; be it the Sydney Hostage earlier this year, or the upcoming MTV movie awards. Finally, if you would like to use social networking to highlight your work skills and attributes, expand your professional networks and create a positive digital footprint, then LinkedIn would be your social network of choice. It is not only a great way for graduates to get exposure, but also a way to connect with those in your field worldwide. The hardest part of social networking comes when looking at it from a business point of view. It can be difficult pinpoint which site will be the most effective when advertising your business. Unless you want to recruit, LinkedIn has no real benefits for the majority of businesses, unless you want to invest in expensive advertising. This is not to say that this won’t become more attractive in the future, however at this stage the benefits are low. The majority of businesses stick to Twitter and Facebook, with many using a combination of both. This is the most effective strategy as Twitter and Facebook have unique demographics and uses. Due to Twitter’s limited text characters, Twitter is best used for short, sharp messages. It is a great way to share brand news and updates, and to promote new products and services. Twitter is also a valuable communication tool. The popularity of twitter is its real-time updates, and by ensuring the Twitter is always manned, businesses can interact with their customers immediately to ensure positive results. An example of a company that runs an engaging, popular and interactive Twitter page is @Oreo. For a local example, @SnapInternet are readily available to answer queries and complaints online, and always do so promptly and are a great company to deal with. Facebook, on the other hand, is more effective for large competitions, or to spread unique and interesting content. The ability to like, share and comment on posts means these sorts of posts are able to get exposure to a lot more people through the Facebook timeline which has a feature which allows users to see posts that friends have been engaging with even if they are not linked to that
20. 20 page directly themselves. This stealth recommendation service means that interesting content has the ability to go viral a lot faster than on other social media websites. The benefit to campaigning on Facebook also lies within the insights section of your business page. Here, you can accurately break down your user demographics and tailor a social networking campaign that is going to be the most effective for your followers. Through Facebook, it is also easier than the other social networking sites to create a supportive online community, and foster brand loyalty through interactions with customers, creating fun unique and engaging content which is aimed at the demographics of your users, and through giveaways competitions and promotions. To conclude, each of these three social networking sites are beneficial for users and businesses depending on what they are after. There is no simple way to recommend one over the other without understanding how users and businesses alike want to use these, and who they want to reach. However, for ease of use and user base numbers, Facebook is the best bet for beginners who are starting to dip their toes in the pools of social networking marketing.
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