Share of time spent on social sites:
- Facebook.com: 83%
- Tumblr.com: 5.7%
- Pinterest.com: 1.9%
- Twitter.com: 1.7%
- LinkedIn: 1.4%
- Other: 6.1%
(comScore, February 2013)
The share of US travellers who own a smartphone is on the rise, and social network usage continues to grow. 64% of US online travellers now own a smartphone, up from 52% in 2011. 83% of travellers are active on social networks, up slightly from the previous year (79%).
US travellers are increasingly using social networks to post about their trips as they travel, according to a PhoCusWright report. In fact, travellers are more likely to post about trip experiences in the moment than when they get back home.
31% of US travellers who are active users of online social networks have posted comments/photos on a social network while travelling in the past twelve months. A smaller share (27%) report sharing travel-related comments/photos at home or work. (PhoCusWright FYI, January 2013)
76% of American consumers travelling this holiday season (up from 69% in 2011) say, they find other travellers' reviews trustworthy, according to the fourth annual Allianz Travel Insurance Vacation Confidence Index.
Young Americans ages 18-34 (77%, up 7 points from 2011) and Americans with higher household incomes (77%) are most likely to find other travellers' reviews "trustworthy," followed by those ages 35-54 (70%), and American seniors (61%). Although lower income Americans are the least likely to find other travellers' reviews "trustworthy", they have shown the biggest increase from 2011 with a 14% jump in 2012.
More Americans are taking others' reviews into account when they're planning their own vacations. Half of Americans who are confident they will take a holiday trip in the next year "factor" other travellers' reviews into their own booking plans, up 9 points from those who answered similarly last year. The other half of Americans taking a holiday trip "don't factor" other travellers' reviews into their plans, down 9 points.
Just as young Americans are more likely to find other travellers' reviews "trustworthy," they are also most likely to factor other travellers' reviews into their own booking plans (47%, up five points from 2011).
Among travellers under 35 who share reviews of their travel experiences online, social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are most popular. 35% say that they share their travel experiences socially, up six points from 2011 and nearly three times the proportion of those who post on travel review sites (12%). Adults over 35 don't shy away from social networks either, utilizing them 12% of the time and seeking out travel review websites 8% of the time.
The Allianz Travel Insurance Vacation Confidence Index is based on a telephone survey conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs from November 7 - 12, 2012 of a nationally representative sample of 1,000 randomly-selected adults aged 18 and over residing in the U.S. (Travel Industry Review, December 2012)
When it comes to travel, digital plays an outsized role in shaping millennials' (those aged about 18-33) destination choices, their on-the-road activities, and how they share those experiences, according to the eMarketer report "Traveling with Generation 'Next': Social Influence Among the Emerging Jet Set."
Nearly a third of travelers ages 21 to 34 who read travel review websites said those sites, which are heavy with user-generated content, had "much influence" on their travel plans, compared to only about one in five travelers ages 35 and over, according to a Travel Weekly study from June 2012.
Social is another area where millennials are looking before and after they book travel. A May 2011 study from Burst Media signaled the weight millennials give to peer recommendations. More than 57% of internet users ages 18 to 34 said they were influenced to purchase travel by their friends' and followers' recommendations. As more and more millennials are drawn to share their travel experiences on social media, the sites become even more useful for researchers and bookers.
But the openness to information and opinion does not necessarily extend to brands. Millennials are reaching out to social networks and observing behaviors of their friends to look for new, novel, authentic experience, but they're not looking to traditional sources for travel information, according to Ann Mack, director of trandspotting for ad agency JWT Worldwide and author of JWT's "Rebooting Travel" report. Millennials don't shun brands on principle or look exclusively to their friends for information, but they do want an accurate, authoritative portrayal of a travel experience they are hoping to enjoy.
JWT data from March 2011 suggests that millennial travelers are more likely to grab their smartphones to access their social networks, Yelp reviews or foursquare users to garner real-time suggestions and find local information while on the go. Travel brands that provide these types of "concierge-like" services are most likely to reach millennials. But to gain the initial trust of these customers, brands must be prepared to join conversations already in progress rather than interrupt them in order to start and control conversations of their own. (eMarketer, December 2012)
Pinterest users have a high interest in travel content related specifically to transactions, according to comScore's "State of the US Online Retail Economy in Q2 2012" report analyzing the top 20 site categories with a high concentration of Pinterest users.
Coming in at eighth on the list, 18.6% of visitors to travel sites with transaction-centered content were also on Pinterest. It appears, at least when it comes to travel, that Pinterest users do have a buyer's mentality.
In addition, travel sites for hotels and resorts just made the list, at the 19th spot; about one-sixth of visitors to those sites also belong to Pinterest, and the sites are trailing the leaders by a slim margin.
Something that should catch the eyes of all travel marketers is that Pinterest users come in all varieties. The social network shows promising penetration across demographics of age, household income and education level. The only demographic split that remains is male/female. While nearly one in five female US internet users are on Pinterest, only one in 20 male internet users visit the site.
Demographic profile of US Pinterest users, August 2012 (% of internet users in each group):
- Female: 19%
- Male: 5%
- 18-29: 16%
- 30-49: 12%
- 50-64: 13%
- 65+: 4%
Annual household income
- <$30,000: 11%
- $30,000-$49,999: 8%
- $50,000-$74,999: 16%
- $75,000+: 12%
- High school graduate or less: 8%
- Some college: 15%
- College+: 14%
(eMarketer, November 2012)
There is a strong correlation between social media and travel, as 76% said they share travel experiences via social networks, according to a TripAdvisor social media travel survey of more than 1,700 US respondents. The findings also show that 42% use social channels for travel planning while 40% do so for travel inspiration. 64% most often refer to a travel research site such as TripAdvisor for travel inspiration.
TripAdvisor other key findings include:
- What Travelers Share: Photo sharing is the most popular pursuit for those using social channels, as 91% of respondents are posting photos of their vacations. 57% post status updates, and 34% use "check-ins" while traveling. During a trip, travelers most often "check-in" when arriving at their hotel (27%), a landmark/attraction (25%), or a restaurant (19%).
- When Travelers Share: Sharing trip details is popular on the road and at home. While 39% usually share travel experiences on social channels following their trip, 52% said they share trip details both while traveling and after returning home. Despite the popularity of social channels, a scrapbook or photo album remains the most popular choice for documenting extended trips, according to 49%.
- Why Travelers Share: The primary reason travelers share their trip experiences on social networks is to update friends and family on their whereabouts, according to 36% and 27% noted the fun to share all their exciting photos and news. 37% think social networks have made travel planning easier.
- How Travelers Share Content on TripAdvisor: TripAdvisor recently reached the milestone of 75 million reviews and opinions; Travelers share more than 50 contributions on TripAdvisor every minute; TripAdvisor features more than 11 million traveler photos; One in four reviews submitted each day on TripAdvisor are written by a Facbeook-connected user; Millions of reviews and ratings are shared between friends on TripAdvisor.
(HOTELMARKETING.COM, September 2012)
US social network users overall skew young, but when looking at specific sites, differences emerge between age groups. In June 2012, Pingdom analyzed DoubleClick data and found that 26% of US social network users were between the ages of 25 and 34, with another 25% between the ages of 35 and 44. Users ages 18 to 24 made up 16% of all US social network users. This study looked at users of a variety of sites, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Reddit, StumbleUpon, deviantART and Goodreads.
US social network users, by age, June 2012 (% of total):
- 0-17: 5%
- 18-24: 16%
- 25-34: 26%
- 35-44: 25%
- 45-54: 19%
- 55-64: 6%
- 65+: 2%
Another study, from the Association of Magazine Media (MPA) in April 2012, broke down social network user distribution not only by age, but also by specific social media sites used. The MPA surveyed US magazine readers who used social media and found that younger respondents were more likely to use certain sites, particularly those with a photo or video focus. Users ages 18 to 24 were more likely than their 25- to 34-year-old counterparts to use YouTube (73% compared to 57%), Twitter (45% to 38%), Instagram (17% to 10%) and Tumblr (15% to 7%). Older respondents were more likely to use LinkedIn, unsurprisingly, while the number of users on Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest was about even between the groups. (eMarketer, September 2012)
Pinterest's rapid ascent in traffic growth has sent marketers scrambling to understand the impact the site is having on its brand. To put the growth in context, Pinterest has grown from 700,000 to almost 20 million unique visitors in the US in the last year - or about half the number of Twitter's unique visitors.
About 1 in 4 consumers reports that they are spending less time on other social media sites in favour of Pinterest, according to research from Compete's Online Shopper Intelligence Survey suggesting that Pinterest is succeeding in disrupting the social media landscape. Compete has observed some evidence of this change in behaviour. There has been 3% decline in time spent on Facebook over the last month. Pinterest is also attracting consumers who have not previously interacted with a social media. 15% of Pinterest users reported that they do not use any other social media sites. That number climbed to 23% amongst consumers with income less than 30K. The findings show that 39% of the market has changed their social networking behaviour in some way due to Pinterest.
Anyone who has interacted with Pinterest is aware of just how diverse the content is - ranging from recipes to vacation destinations. Compete asked consumers about the types of content they are most likely to engage with on Pinterest to help provide some perspective on the highest potential areas of opportunities for marketers. Food related content was the most overwhelmingly popular content that consumers interacted with on Pinterest - 57% of consumers interacted with food related content according to our Online Shopper Intelligence survey.
Which of the following types of items do you interact with on Pinterest?
- Food: 57%
- Home: 40%
- Arts & Crafts: 34%
- Style/Fashion: 30%
- Products: 26%
- Vacation/temporary: 25%
- Humor: 25%
- Travel: 22%
- Inspiration/Education: 20%
- Children: 14%
- Other: 4%
Pinterest is not just raising brand awareness but is also driving purchase behaviour. About 25% of consumers reported purchasing a product or service after discovering it on Pinterest - that number jumped to 37% amongst males. (competepulse, June 2012)
As recently as 2010, growth in US Facebook usage was well into the double digits, at 38.6%, according to eMarketer. But with 116.8 million US internet users already logging on to the site at least once monthly that year, growth rates were bound to plateau. By 2011 Facebook user growth rose a comparatively small 13.4%, and in 2012 will be the first when growth rates drop to the single digits. Rates of change in the US will continue to decline throughout eMarketer's forecast period.
On Twitter, by contrast, growth is stronger. In 2011, 31.9% increase in users outpaced that of 2010, when growth was at 23.5%. Similar to Facebook's trajectory, Twitter's growth rate will also fall in the coming years, but still remain nearly four times higher than Facebook's growth rate in 2014.
US Facebook vs. Twitter user growth, 2010-2014 (% change):
2010: +38.6% (Facebook) / +23.5% (Twitter)
2011: +13.4% / +31.9%
2012: +6.6% / +20.7%
2013: +3.9% / +14.8%
2014: +3.6% / +14.0%
Twitter's size, which is fairly small, is one factor that makes such growth rates possible. Facebook already reached an enormous audience of nearly 133 million US internet users at the end of 2011, a figure that will surpass 150 million by 2014. Twitter, in comparison, had a US user base of less than 24 million at the end of last year. Still, between 2010 and 2014, eMarketer predicts, Twitter will about double its US user base, reaching 37.6 million microbloggers by the period's end.
US Facebook vs. Twitter users, 2010-2014:
2010: 116.8 million Facebook users / 18.0 million Twitter users
2011: 132.5 million / 23.8 million
2012: 141.2 million / 28.7 million
2013: 146.7 million / 33.0 million
2014: 152.0 million / 37.6 million
eMarketer bases its estimates of Facebook and Twitter usage on an analysis of survey and traffic data from research firms and regulatory agencies; company releases; historical trends; internet and mobile adoption trends; and demographic and socio-economic factors. (eMarketer, March 2012)
While Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have been at the top of the social media heap in the US for several years now, new services and re-launched versions of older ones are rapidly gaining popularity among consumers and marketers. Many internet users are turning to social networks that offer a more focused experience than Facebook, even as that site positions itself as the social destination for sharing, curation and consumption of content, according to eMarketer's Kimberly Maul, author of the "Beyond Facebook and Twitter: Visually Focused Social Sites See Growing Interest" report.
In the case of several popular or up-and-coming sites, this means giving users the ability to express themselves and often to become tastemakers using photos and other visually oriented material.
One such site is Pinterest, where users and marketers alike can create online "pinboards" that showcase their taste and creativity. Just as users can curate their own online image on such a site, so too can brands, making boards that present a brand identity and positioning themselves in a clear, visual way to the target audience. Pinterest usage in the US shot up from less than half a million unique visitors in May 2011 to nearly 12 million in January 2012, according to comScore.
Usage of blogging platform Tumblr has also seen increases, though of a relatively more modest nature. In January 2012, comScore reported the site's US traffic rose from less than 7 million unique visitors in late 2010 to more than twice as many a year later.
While content on Pinterest is limited to images, Tumblr has more options-again, for both users and marketers alike. And as users take advantage of the simple, customizable, and highly visual Tumblr blogging interface, brands with a visual message are getting involved too. (eMarketer, February 2012)
The popularity of Google+ has showed dramatic growth recently, according to February 2012 analysis from Compete, which tracked the landing page for the main feature of the social network, the +1 button (google.com/+1/button, or plusone.google.com), beginning in November 2011. The page drew over 40 million unique visitors in December 2011alone, with more than 10 times that amount in visits, while also passing 3 billion page views.
Compete also looked at its panel of 2 million non-mobile US-based users, representing a 1% sample size for the US, to determine the website's popularity among non-mobile users. The company found that Google+ has grown by about 40% for US non-mobile traffic in each of the primary metrics that shows website performance. In fact, in December, Google+ reached a new peak of 20 million unique visitors, 50 million visits, and 200 million page views.
Google+ ranked 9th in the top 10 social networking websites and forums in December 2011, with 0.41% share of US market visits, according to Hitwise data released in January 2012. This represents 24% growth in just one month, after earning 0.33% share of visits in November. In fact, in December, Google+ grew its share of US social networking site visits to rival myYearbook, in the process also halving its gap with LinkedIn from 0.3% points to just 0.15% points.
Google+ may not find its mark as a vehicle for tailored search results, though. According to an AYTM survey conducted in January 2012, just 7.5% of respondents said they would more inclined to use the social network if they knew they would get more tailored search results from doing so. By contrast, the vast majority (92.5%) said they were either ambivalent (48.1%) or not more likely (44.4%) to use the network to get more tailored search results.
Overall, 19.3% of the 400 US adults surveyed said they use Google+, although that was matched by the proportion (19.5%) who said they did not know what the social network was.
(MarketingCharts, February 2012)
Social media is now the third most popular marketing tactic to reach new customers after email and agents' own websites, according to a Travel Industry Survey 2011 by Travel Weekly US.
Travel Weekly editor-in-chief Arnie Weissmann revealed the trend during a WTM seminar on US Travel Industry Trends, indicating that social media techniques are pushing down email usage which has declined from being used by 85% in 2010 to 73% in 2011. Social media is now being used by 39% of agents and that really picks up among home agents. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, November 2011)
More than 72.2 million Americans accessed social networking sites or blogs on their mobile device in August 2011, an increase of 37% in the past year, according to a study by comScore. The study also provided new insights into how mobile users interact with social media, finding that more than half read a post from an organization, brand or event while on their mobile device.
Nearly 40 million U.S. mobile users, more than half of the mobile social media audience, access these sites almost every day, demonstrating the importance of this activity to people's daily routines.
Social media is one of the most popular and fastest growing mobile activities, reaching nearly a third of all US mobile users, according to Mark Donovan, comScore senior vice president for mobile. This behaviour is even more prevalent among smartphone owners with three in five accessing social media each month, highlighting the importance of apps and the enhanced functionality of smartphones to social media usage on mobile devices."
Research also indicated that although more people accessed these sites via their mobile browser, the social networking app audience grew five times faster in the past year. While the mobile browsing social networking audience grew 24% to 42.3 million users in the past year, the mobile social networking app audience surged 126 % to 38.5 million.
A look at selected social networking brands, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, revealed that each grew their mobile audiences by at least 50% in the past year. Facebook was home to the largest mobile audience among the three destinations with more than 57 million mobile users in August, up 50% from the previous year. Twitter saw its mobile audience jump 75% to 13.4 million people, while LinkedIn's mobile audience climbed 69% to 5.5 million users. (comScore, October 2011)
23 million US mums are on Facebook in 2011, a figure that counts women with children under 18 in the household who use the site at least once each month, according to eMarketer. That represents well over two-thirds of all online moms in the country. Overall, eMarketer estimates that just 57.1% of internet users (including children) use Facebook monthly.
US mum Facebook users and penetration, 2010-2013:
- 2010: 20.6 million Facebook users / 62.0% of mum internet users / 83.3% of mum social network users
- 2011: 23.0 million / 68.9% / 87.0%
- 2012: 23.9 million / 71.2% / 86.8%
- 2013: 24.5 million / 73.1% / 87.5%
Facebook, of course, is not the only social networking site mums use. Overall, 26.5 million mothers with kids in the home use social networks at least once per month, or 79.2% of online mums. This compares to 63.7% of internet users overall.
US mum social network users and penetration, 2010-2013:
- 2010: 24.8 million (74.4% of mum internet users)
- 2011: 26.5 million (79.2%)
- 2012: 27.5 million (82.1%)
- 2013: 28.1 million (83.5%)
These estimates mean that as of 2011, mums will make up 17.9% of all US social network users and 17.4% of Facebook users. But the high rates of penetration reached in this group mean growth will be relatively slow, and mums will actually lose share on the sites over time. By 2013, eMarketer estimates, 16.1% of US Facebook users will be mums with children in the home, while 17.1% of all US social network users will be mothers. (eMarketer, October 2011)
About seven in 10 (69%) US smartphone and tablet users check social network status updates on their mobile device, making it the most popular mobile social networking activity, according to September 2011 data from Prosper Mobile Insights. Viewing photos closely follows in popularity (66%).
Other mobile social networking activities performed by more than half of mobile users include updating status (53%) and sending emails (51%), while 49% post photos taken on their smartphone/tablet. Only 26.5% go to retailer pages to find deals while shopping, and 15% don't access social media sites on their mobile device. (Marketing Charts, September 2011)
With so much attention given to social networking goliath Facebook, along with strong secondary players in the market like Twitter and Linkedin (and now Google+), it's no wonder that Tumblr often gets overlooked. But recent comScore data suggest that maybe it's about time to start paying closer attention. Tumblr, a multimedia-focused microblogging platform, has emerged as one of the fastest growing consumer-oriented internet sites over the past year, with its audience surging from 4.2 million visitors in July 2010 to 13.4 million visitors in July 2011 (up 218%).
With social media sites a critical component of success is realizing the benefits of the network effect. The network effect is predicated on the idea that the more users that are part of the system, the more valuable the system becomes to users, which creates a virtuous cycle that pulls more users into the system and gives existing users more incentive to participate. This concept is an important reason why we often see that once social networks achieve critical mass, the network effect takes hold and adoption tends to accelerate.
If we look at the past few months, we are seeing evidence of the network effect occurring at Tumblr, with the number of visitors accelerating from April through July. In just three months, the number of visitors has jumped 5 million for a gain of 61%.
To date, Tumblr's popularity has been strongest among the teen and college-aged user segments. In fact, 50% of Tumblr's visitor base is under the age of 25. Teenagers age 12-17 are about twice as likely as the average internet user to visit Tumblr, while 18-24 year olds are nearly 2.5x as likely.
If the past few months are indication, it won't be long before Tumblr is a household name. (comScore, August 2011)
A Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) study of a popular website that posts ratings and reviews from vacation home stays found that the bulk of the reviews are strongly positive.
However, the report detailed that the second highest category is strongly negative reviews, with few in the middle. The study "Unscrambling the Puzzling Matter of Online Consumer Ratings: An Exploratory Study" examined nearly 3,200 reviews from a popular site which posts reviews of vacation rental properties across the USA.
The report also found that the "star" ratings didn't always match the consumers' assessments of the homes' specific features, such as value, cleanliness, and location. A "five-star review" might award an average rating of 3 on the home's features.
The authors suggest that review sites should develop better methods to aggregate, synthesize, and publish the review contents, particularly the numerical ratings, and the sites should provide more information to help the consumers get the information they desire about prospective rentals. (Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, August 2011)
Social networks have crossed another milestone. For the first time, half of all adults in the United States said they use a social networking site, according to a survey released by the Pew Research Center.
Six years ago, when Pew first conducted a similar survey, only 5% of all adults said they used social sites, like Facebook, LinkedIn or MySpace. It is a sign of how deeply and widely social networking companies have penetrated the lives of ordinary people and in turn, transformed the ways in which people communicate, authorities govern and companies sell things.
The Pew survey found that among adults who are online the rates of participation are higher: 65%, according to the survey, up slightly from 61% last year. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, August 2011)
More than twice as many people aged 55 and older in the US visited social networks on their mobile phone in the third quarter of 2011 compared to the same period in 2010, according to a September 2011 report from The Nielsen Company.
Nielsen's data indicates that during the third quarter of 2011, the number of people 55 and older performing mobile social networking grew 109% year-over-year.
Other demographic groups experiencing notably large growth in mobile social networking compared to the third quarter of 2010 include Asian/Pacific Islanders (76%), 35-to-54-year-olds (68%), whites (67%), and 18-to-34-year-olds (61%). With the exception of 13-to-17-year-olds, whose mobile social networking numbers only increased 16%, every group tracked by Nielsen saw the number of people performing mobile social networking grow at least 37% year-over-year (in the case of those with a mixed racial background).
Much as it does in the world of PC-based social networking, Facebook is the clear leader among mobile social networks with about 46.5 million unique mobile visitors during the third quarter of 2011. This was roughly four times the unique mobile audience of its nearest competitor, Twitter, which had about 11.4 million mobile visitors.
Females make up the majority of visitors to social networks and blogs, and people aged 18-34 have the highest concentration of visitors among all age groups, according to other study results indicating that during the third quarter of 2011, women were 3% more likely than average to use social networkers, and 18-to-34-year-olds were 8% more likely than average.
In addition, Asian/Pacific Islanders were the ethnic group most likely to visit social networks and blogs, indexing 3% than the overall average. Other leading indicators of social network usage include living in New England (2% higher than average), holding a bachelor's or postgraduate degree (6% higher than average), and earning less than $50,000 per year (2% higher than average). (Marketing Charts, September 2011)
Facebook is the platform of choice for US consumers looking to interact with their favourite brands online, easily topping both Twitter and LinkedIn, according to a study conducted by Constant Contact and Chadwick Martin Bailey among 1,491 consumers ages 18 and older throughout the US.
With that being said, more than half of Facebook users are more likely to recommend a brand to their friends after they become a fan of its Page by Liking it. Over half are also more likely to buy a product from a brand after Liking its Page. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, September 2011)
Two-thirds of adult US internet users (65%) say they use a social networking site like MySpace, Facebook or LinkedIn, up from 61% one year ago, according to a Pew Internet survey.
For the first time in Pew Internet surveys it means that half of all adults (50 percent) use social networking sites.
Social networking site use by online adults, 2005-2011 (% than ever used):
- 2005: 8%
- 2006: 16%
- 2008: 29%
- 2009: 46%
- 2010: 61%
- 2011: 65%
The frequency of social networking site usage among young adult internet users under age 30 was stable over the last year - 61% of online Americans in that age group use social networking sites on a typical day, compared with 60% one year ago. However, among the Boomer-aged segment of internet users aged 50-64, social networking site usage on a typical day grew a significant 60% (from 20% to 32%).
Among internet users, social networking sites are most popular with women (69% among female against 60% among male) and young adults under age 30. Young adult women aged 18-29 are the power users of social networking; 83% of those who are online use the sites overall and 69% do so on an average day. (eyefortravel, August 2011)
As more consumers access social media via mobile devices, it changes the way they research and shop for products and services offline. Knowledge Networks and MediaPost Communications surveyed teen and adult social media users for "The Faces of Social Media" study and found that, in May 2011, 40% of respondents accessed social media via their mobile phones. This was an increase from 28% who reported doing the same in September 2010.
Additionally, 37% of US social media users trust what their friends and family members say about a brand or product on social media, compared to only 10% who trust what strangers say. Drilling down to specific social elements, 26% trust what friends and family members say in blog posts, 25% trust their posts on social media sites and 20% trust their tweets. This is compared to 7% who trust the blogs and posts of strangers, and 5% who trust strangers' tweets.
Additionally, an April 2011 study from ROI Research found that 60% of US social network users were at least somewhat likely to take action when a friend posted something about a product, service, company or brand on a social media site.
As more consumers access social media on the go, their in-store shopping decisions will be affected by these same influential brand discussions. The Knowledge Networks study found that 27% of US mobile internet users turned to social media to compare or check prices before, during or after shopping, while 24% checked reviews and 16% got coupons or discounts for local businesses. Overall, half of mobile web users interacted with social media at some point in the shopping process.
This makes social media, where consumers connect with their friends and family, an important destination for researching purchasing decisions in-store. This is an added challenge for retailers and marketers, as they must focus on keeping customers happy on the go and remember how much influence a customer's social media posts can have on their friends and family members. (eMarketer, July 2011)
A report from PhoCusWright has revealed that online hotel review volume expanded significantly in 2010, as traveller opinion plays an increasingly powerful role in the online travel search-shop-buy process.
PhoCusWright's Social Media in Travel 2011: Traffic, Activity and Sentiment analyzes nearly 2.9 million online traveller reviews, covering more than 26,000 US properties of 65 top hotel brands. The result is an in-depth, year-over-year comparison of traveler reviews and sentiment for the US hotel review landscape, as well as the online forums - traveller review sites and online travel agencies - where travellers post their reviews.
The report finds that the average monthly buzz across most hotel classes increased in 2010, in part reflecting an overall improvement in hotel market conditions. However, buzz ratings vary significantly from one hotel star classification to the next. (PhoCusWright, August 2011)
More than half (53%) of Facebook users have reached a retailer's website from its Facebook page, and 35% of online shoppers said they would be likely to make a purchase through Facebook, according to a joint study by Shop.org, comScore and Social Shopping Labs.
Facebook has become the social media venue of choice among online buyers. Compete discovered that the number of online buyers using retailers' Facebook pages increased 3 percentage points over the previous year, bumping blogs, forums and review sites to second place. Additionally, a third of respondents "like" six or more retailers or consumer products companies on Facebook.
The prospect of finding out about sales and promotions is a big lure. Over 56% of those surveyed by Compete visited retailers' Facebook pages for this purpose, while 58% in the Shop.org study, which included Twitter and a company's blog in the figure, cited deals as a primary motivation. Learning more about a retailer and keeping up to date on products were also important.
According to Compete, more than 20% of online buyers found Facebook pages "influential" or "extremely influential," regardless of the channel where the transaction is completed. The numbers show promise for a less established retail offering.
A PowerReviews and e-tailing group survey discovered that more familiar online tools, such as customer reviews, Q&As and forums, beat Facebook for their effect on buying behavior, yet the popular site still fared better than mobile or Twitter. Taken with Compete's findings, this implies that Facebook is being used by online shoppers more than ever and is continuing to grow in popularity, but has yet to surpass more ubiquitous online community tools in direct influence on purchasing.
Retailers and consumer products companies could give the small but eager group currently connecting with them on Facebook what they are looking for: access to sales. Even if these online shoppers are not yet able to make purchases directly through Facebook, exclusive offers can engender goodwill, loyalty, sharing and increase the likelihood of taking the "f-commerce" leap when it is offered.
79% of the internet Retail Top 500 retailers have Facebook pages, yet only 12% offer apps or widgets that enable ecommerce transactions on the social network, according to Software provider Ability Commerce. (eMarketer, July 2011)
234 million Americans ages 13 and older used mobile devices for the three month average period ending in April 2011, according to comScore.
74.6 million people in the US owned smartphones during the three months ending in April 2011, up 13% from the three-month period ending in January 2011. In April 2011, 68.8% of US mobile subscribers used text messaging on their mobile device. Browsers were used by 39.1% of subscribers (up 2.1 percentage points), while downloaded applications were used by 37.8% (up 2.4 percentage points). Accessing of social networking sites or blogs increased 2.7 percentage points, representing 28.0% of mobile subscribers. Playing games comprised 26.2% of the mobile audience (up 2.5 percentage points), while listening to music represented 18.0%.
Mobile content usage, 3 month average ending April 2011 (Total US mobile subscribers, Age 13+):
- Sent text message to another phone: 68.8% (+0.7% compared to January 2011)
- Used browser: 39.1% (+2.1%)
- Used downloaded apps: 37.8% (+2.4%)
- Accessed social networking site or blog: 28.0% (+2.7%)
- Played Games: 26.2% (+2.5%)
- Listened to music on mobile phone: 18.0% (+1.5%)
(comScore, June 2011)
Twitter usage had risen from 8% of US internet users in fall 2010 to 13% in May 2011, a 62.5% increase, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. In May 2011, Arbitron and Edison Research published an update to their social media research indicating Twitter has a long way to go in convincing consumers they want to use the microblogging service. Awareness of the service was high, at 92%, but just 8% of consumers ages 12 and up said they had ever used it. Although Twitter awareness actually increased 5% points from an already high figure in 2010, usage increased by just 1 point over the same period.
Facebook has greater awareness than usage, too. Arbitron and Edison found that more people have heard of the social networking giant than use the internet in the US. But Facebook usage is also high, at an estimated 42.3% of consumers and 57.1% of internet uses this year, eMarketer believes. By contrast, eMarketer estimates just 11% of internet users will access a Twitter account at least monthly this year. (eMarketer, June 2011)
The rapid adoption of the ‘like' button and the rise of the Facebook ‘homepage' are indications that marketing on Facebook has become a necessity for businesses large and small, according to Kimberly Maul, eMarketer writer/analyst and co-author of the report "Facebook Marketing: Strategies for Turning ‘Likes' into Loyalty."
Most Fortune 100 companies now use Facebook for marketing. And HubSpot's "The 2011 State of Inbound Marketing" report found that 44% of companies in North America see Facebook as critical or important, up from 24% in 2009.
A study from WONGDOODY (now Wong, Doody, Crandall, Wiener) provided a set of benchmarks for Facebook marketers. Among the 84 Facebook brand pages examined, 88% of their operators said they posted video content, 82% solicited fan stories or comments, 79% had their wall open for fan comments and 66% actively replied to fan posts and comments. (eMarketer, May 2011)
LinkedIn generates the most conversions for B2Bs, while Facebook generates the most conversions for B2Cs , according to HubSpot, State of Inbound Marketing Report, 2011.
"Our company has acquired a customer through this channel":
- LinkedIn: 61%
- Company Blog: 55%
- Facebook: 41%
- Twitter: 39%
"Our company has acquired a customer through this channel":
- Facebook: 67%
- Company Blog: 63%
- Twitter: 53%
- LinkedIn: 39%
LinkedIn reported reaching the milestone of 100 million users worldwide in March 2011, 44 million of whom are in the US. According to the company's blog, 1 million more are signing up each week.
eMarketer does not estimate the number of LinkedIn users, and unlike with Twitter, users are fairly unlikely to have multiple profiles.
According to Experian Hitwise, in January 2011 LinkedIn got only 0.51% of all social networking site visits in the US. Facebook naturally took the lion's share, at nearly 90%, but Myspace, Twitter, Tagged, myYearbook and MyLife.com all came in ahead of LinkedIn. But comScore reported in December 2010 that LinkedIn had 26.6 million US unique visitors, behind Facebook and Myspace but ahead of Twitter.
Leading social media sites among US internet users, ranked by unique visitors, December 2010:
- Facebook: 153.9 million
- Myspace: 50.1 million
- LinkedIn: 26.6 million
- Twitter: 23.6 million
- Tumblr: 6.7 million
- Formspring: 5.3 million
An October 2010 survey by The Media Audit reported 11.5% of US consumers had logged on to LinkedIn in the past month. In February 2010, an Arbitron/Edison Research study of consumers ages 12 and older found 8% used LinkedIn. Between LinkedIn's growing user base and the fact that kids and teens generally don't use the professional network, those numbers are a close match.
Social sites that US consumers have logged on to in the past month, October 2010 (% of respondents):
- Facebook: 48.2%
- Myspace: 13.4%
- LinkedIn: 11.5%
- Twitter: 9.6%
- Digg: 2.6%
- StumbleUpon: 2.3%
Among internet users, Google and Ipsos OTX MediaCT found 13% of non-Hispanics and 8% of Hispanics used LinkedIn in October 2010. And Interpret found that 8% of US social network users had an active LinkedIn profile as of Q3 2010, meaning they log on to the site at least every two weeks.
The age of LinkedIn users is more evenly spread out, according to an August 2010 survey by Fiserv. While usage is lower among all age groups than for competitors like Facebook, boomers are almost equally likely to use the site as members of Gen Y. Usage among seniors, however, drops off considerably.
According to November 2010 research by Wedbush Securities, fewer internet users used LinkedIn than Facebook and Twitter, and users were proportionally less likely to log in to the site daily. A June 2010 Sheraton Hotels & Resorts survey found LinkedIn users checked the site less frequently than did Myspace or Twitter users, but more often than Facebook users did so.
But according to LinkedIn, site users are active in ways that will matter to social media marketers. The company reported nearly 18 million members belonged to groups, and that groups gained 1.5 million new memberships and 1.2 million posts and comments each week. (eMarketer, March 2011)
Nearly 150 million US web users will use social networks via any device at least monthly in 2011, bringing the reach of such sites to 63.7% of the online population, according to an eMarketer report entitled "US Social Network Usage: 2011 Demographic and Behavioral Trends."
But the days of double-digit growth in users are over as social networking reaches a saturation point. By 2013, 164.2 million Americans will use social networks, or 67% of internet users.
US social network users and penetration, 2009-2013:
- 2009: 113.0 million (52.3% of internet users)
- 2010: 134.6 million (60.1%)
- 2011: 147.8 million (63.7%)
- 2012: 157.8 million (66.0%)
- 2013: 164.2 million (67.0%)
Even as the social network audience has broadened to include a significant number of people from the Generation X, boomer and senior age segments, the youngest age groups are still the most represented, active and engaged. The enormous usage increases in some older age groups over the past two years will be less pronounced in the coming years.
Still, more than half of internet users ages 45 to 64 and over four out of five 12- to- 34-year-old online users will be regular social network users in 2011. The highest penetration level of all age groups will remain in the 18-to-24 age group, where 90% of internet users will use social networks this year.
US social network user penetration, by age, 2009-2013:
- 0-11: 12% in 2009 / 14% in 2010 / 15% of 2011 / 16% of 2012 / 17% of 2013
- 12-17: 75% / 78% / 81% / 84% / 85%
- 18-24: 83% / 88% / 90% / 92% / 93%
- 25-34: 70% / 77% / 82% / 84% / 85%
- 35-44: 52% / 65% / 72% / 75% / 77%
- 45-54: 42% / 53% / 58% / 63% / 65%
- 55-64: 35% / 48% / 52% / 55% / 57%
- 65+: 20% / 28% / 31% / 34% / 36%
TOTAL: 52% / 60% / 64% / 66% / 67%
(eMarketer, March 2011)
Facebook, the largest social network in the US as well as the world, has been adding members at a rapid rate for the past two years. While that growth will moderate now that the social network is reaching a saturation point among many age groups, it will continue to gain audience for the foreseeable future.
132.5 million people in the US will be users of Facebook in 2011; by 2013, that number will increase to 152.1 million, according to a report by eMarketer entitled "Facebook Users: The Juggernaut Rolls On".
What started out as a pure-play social network has evolved into an all-purpose destination that is beginning to replace email, instant messaging, video sharing, gaming and other activities that were otherwise scattered across unconnected venues.
US Facebook users and % change, 2009-2013:
- 2009: 84.3 million (+90.3%)
- 2010: 116.8 million (+38.6%)
- 2011: 132.5 million (+13.4%)
- 2012: 143.4 million (+8.2%)
- 2013: 152.1 million (+6.1%)
This growth will be driven primarily by increased Facebook use among older boomers and seniors. At the same time, teens and young adults will remain the site's most active and engaged age groups. Compared with other age groups, they show extremely high penetration rates, spend more time on the site and have more friends in their networks.
US Facebook users by age (% of internet users in each group), 2009-2013:
- 0-11: 4.7% in 2009 / 9.2% in 2010 / 9.9% in 2011 / 10.5% in 2012 / 11.6% in 2013
- 12-17: 57.9% / 73.0% / 77.1% / 80.2% / 82.0%
- 18-24: 72.9% / 81.0% / 83.2% / 86.1% / 88.6%
- 25-34: 63.1% / 69.9% / 75.1% / 78.0% / 79.9%
- 35-44: 36.0% / 54.9% / 62.9% / 67.1% / 70.0%
- 45-54: 24.9% / 43.9% / 50.9% / 55.9% / 58.9%
- 55-64: 15.1% / 35.1% / 44.1% / 48.0% / 51.1%
- 65+: 10.8% / 24.0% / 28.0% / 31.1% / 34.1%
TOTAL: 39.0% / 52.2% / 57.1% / 60.0% / 62.0%
The 18-to-44 age segment represents the largest demographic slice, 56.7% of Facebook users, and is a key target for marketers. (eMarketer, March 2011)
Reports of Twitter usage can vary widely. The company itself reported that as of September 2010, 175 million accounts had been created. Firms that track unique visitors to Twitter.com tallied between approximately 20 million and 26 million per month in 2010. But because of duplicate accounts, international users, "Twitter quitters" and the fact that many visitors to Twitter.com are simply reading public tweets and not truly using the service, those numbers are nearly all higher than survey data that asks internet users about their online and mobile habits.
20.6 million US adults will access a Twitter account at least monthly in 2011, up 26.3% from 16.4 million in 2010, according to a report by eMarketer entitled "Twitter Users: A Vocal Minority". Growth will continue in the double digits through 2013, when nearly 28 million adults will be Twitter users.
US adults Twitter users and % change, 2009-2013:
- 2009: 13.2 million (+293.1%)
- 2010: 16.4 million (+24.0%)
- 2011: 20.6 million (+26.3%)
- 2012: 24.1 million (+16.7%)
- 2013: 27.7 million (+14.8%)
This estimate is primarily based on a meta-analysis of surveys that polled people on their actual use of Twitter, regardless of platform.
A demographic profile of Twitter users from the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 10% of US female internet users and 7% of US male internet users used Twitter. The service was decidedly more popular among younger adults, a result supported by other research.
Mobile is a large and growing platform for Twitter users. comScore noted that in January 2011, 7.8 million US mobile device subscribers used Twitter on their phones - a steep 66% increase over the previous January (4.7 million). (eMarketer, March 2011)
Social media has changed the way that DMOs do business. DMAI recently surveyed members to facilitate updating their Standard CVB Performance Reporting handbook to include metrics for online marketing and social media.
Findings from the aggregated stats from the 100 DMOs worldwide that responded to the survey show what activities are DMOs engaging in, and what metrics are they tracking:
- 96% of respondents have a Facebook Fan Page: of these, 94% measure ‘likes', 65% measure active users, and 65% measure page interactions.
- 89% are on Twitter: 95% of tweeting destinations measure followers, and 60% measure re-tweets.
- 3% have a presence on Myspace: an unsurprising find due to the platform's diminishing user base.
- Of the 73% of YouTube using DMOs, 86% track total views, but only 43% monitor their subscribers.
- Just over half of DMO respondents blog and note total blog visits as the single most important metric.
(aboutourism, February 2011)
The most-frequently cited reason Facebook users give for "unliking" a brand is that it posts too frequently, according to a report from Exact Target and CoTweet entitled "The Social Break-up".
Findings from the report show that 44% of Facebook users list this as a top reason for unliking a brand they once liked on Facebook. Virtually tying over-posting as a top reason for unliking a brand on Facebook is having an overcrowded wall (43%, more than one answer permitted). Other leading reasons include content becoming boring and/or repetitive (38%), and only liking a company to take advantage of a one-time offer (26%).
Reasons users unlike brands on Facebook (as a % of respondents), February 2011:
- Too frequent posts: 44%
- Wall became too crowded with marketing posts: 43%
- The content became repetitive or boring: 38%
- I only liked to get a one-time offer: 26%
- They didn't offer enough deals: 24%
- Their posts were too promotional: 24%
- The content wasn't relevant to me from the start: 19%
- Posts were not focused on real value: 17%
- I prefer to seek information, not companies pushing me: 14%
- My circumstances changed (job, marriage, location...): 12%
Report data indicates brands will often know when a Facebook fan changes their mind, as 43% of Facebook users will unlike a brand when they no longer want to see its posts. Another 38% click the "X" in their news feed so they don't see the brand's posts and 19% do nothing but ignore the posts.
55% of Facebook users have liked a company and then decided they no longer wanted to see its posts. In addition, 51% say they rarely or never visit a brand once they have liked it. A full 71% of fans say they have become more selective about what brands they like.
Report data show that a consumer's decision to "unlike" a company has surprisingly little impact on the perceived likelihood that they will buy from that company in the future. In total, 63% of consumers said they were as likely or more likely to purchase something from a company after ending their Facebook relationship. Another 18% said they only "unlike" a company if they never bought anything in the first place.
Almost three in four (73%) online US consumers have opened a Facebook account. 65% are active Facebook users, and 42% are fans. The fan percentage rises to 64% among Facebook users. Facebook represents the largest share of time spent by US internet users of the top five most-visited websites, according to a white paper from comScore "The 2010 US Digital Year in Review", which indicates that Facebook increased its share of total US internet time 71% between December 2009 (7.2%) and December 2010 (12.3%). (Marketing Charts, February 2011)
As Facebook continues to solidify its role as the world's top social networking site, eMarketer estimates that more than half of internet users in the US were logging on to the site at least monthly as of the end of 2010.
This year, eMarketer forecasts, 132.5 million US web users will use the site. That increase of 13.4% in the number of users means Facebook will reach almost nine in ten social network users and 57.1% of internet users. By 2013, 62% of web users and almost half (47.6%) of the overall US population will be on Facebook.
US Facebook users and penetration, 2009-2013:
- 2009: 84.3 million / +90.3% change / 74.6% of social network users / 39.0% of internet users / 27.4% of population
- 2010: 116.8 million / +38.6% / 86.8% / 52.2% / 37.6%
- 2011: 132.5 million / +13.4% / 89.6% / 57.1% / 42.3%
- 2012: 143.4 million / +8.2% / 90.0% / 60.0% / 45.3%
- 2013: 152.1 million / +6.1% / 92.6% / 62.0% / 47.6%
eMarketer's estimates are based on a meta-analysis of survey data and visitor statistics from over a dozen sources, and include US users who use any internet-enabled device to access their Facebook account at least once a month.
Facebook's broad reach means that its once-dramatic growth rates are over; eMarketer forecasts single-digit growth in users after this year. On Twitter, growth rates will be higher, but relatively few online Americans use the microblogging service.
By the end of 2010, 16.4 million US adults, or 9% of the adult internet population, used Twitter. Growth will surpass 26% this year as Twitter reaches 11% of internet users and 16.5% of US adult social network users. By 2013, nearly 28 million Americans will be tweeting.
US adult twitter users and penetration, 2009-2013:
- 2009: 13.2 million / +293.1% change / 14.1% of adult social network users / 7.5% of adult internet users / 5.7% of adult population
- 2010: 16.4 million / +24.0% / 14.4% / 9.0% / 7.0%
- 2011: 20.6 million / +26.3% / 16.5% / 11.0% / 8.7%
- 2012: 24.1 million / +16.7% / 18.0% / 12.5% / 10.0%
- 2013: 27.7 million / +14.8% / 19.8% / 14.0% / 11.4%
eMarketer's estimates of Twitter usage include individuals ages 18 and older who access their Twitter account at least monthly via any device, including access to third-party apps as well as to Twitter.com. Younger users are excluded due to a lack of third-party data on Twitter use by those under 18. This forecast represents a downward revision of eMarketer's prediction made in April 2010, based on data from several surveys. (eMarketer, February 2011)
About 52% of the 152 million adult leisure travellers in the US (or some 79 million people) already use social media, according to Laura Mandala, managing director of US-based Mandala Research firm, in ITB Travel Trends report 2010-2011.
Travellers using social media in the US generate about $102.9 billion for the domestic US tourism sector compared to about $69.5 billion from non-social media users, according to Mandala.
Facebook, Twitter, iPhone, smart phones, travel apps, mobile phones with GPS and in-built camera, and more are supposedly the new arms of today's travelers around the world, according to Mandala.
Referring social media users as "‘travel social fans" (TSFs), Mandala said, such travelers are signing up as friends, fans or followers of travel suppliers on social networking sites, mostly Facebook, for any leisure travel information. However, Expedia research shows that the travel industry still needs to develop an effective, result-oriented social media marketing strategy. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, January 2011)
Just 4% of US internet users participated in location-sharing services in November 2010, according to the Pew Internet & American Life.
Like social networking on mobile devices, location-based services are still in their infancy. eMarketer projects the number of mobile social network users will more than double between 2010 and 2015, and adoption of location-based services will rise with it.
US mobile social network users, 2009-2015:
- 2009: 23.8 million
- 2010: 38.9 million
- 2011: 49.4 million
- 2012: 58.5 million
- 2013: 65.6 million
- 2014: 72.8 million
- 2015: 79.1 million
Explosive growth in usage of location-based services in 2010 suggests that checking in is ready to move into the mainstream. According to SNL Kagan, the number of location-based services users nearly tripled in 2010, reaching 33.2 million (including users of family tracking and navigation services provided by wireless carriers), up from 12.3 million in 2009. Having Facebook in the mix will only help to familiarize people with the check-in and push it toward mass adoption. (eMarketer, January 2011)
Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 10:43