The 2017 Sensis Social Media Report is out and the report’s findings are pretty eye-opening. It has uncovered the impact of social media on our anxiety levels, which Australians use social media the most… and whether men or women are more likely to use social media on the toilet!

The Sensis Social Media Report has been tracking Australians for six years now. To get their data for the 2017 report, Sensis spoke to 800 Australians and in this article you will get a break down of the some of the reports’ most interesting findings. Some of the data brought to light will prove invaluable for Social Media Marketers.

Released this month, the 2017 Sensis Social Media Report shows a nation that lives online every single day (84%). We may own, on average, three internet-enabled devices, but the smartphone is most popular by far (81%). It’s the only category, along with wearables (up to 10% from 6% in 2016), to show signs of growth. Desktop PCs (51%, down 3 points) and tablets (45% down 9) dropped off. Internet television held relatively steady at 28%.

Our social status

More Australians are using social media (79%, up 10). The boom in smartphones may explain this jump—81% of Australians use them to access social media, beating laptops (30%), desktops (28%) and tablets (25%). With the balance tipped in favour of smartphones, it’s no surprise social media apps win out over websites, 70:30.

Almost three in five of us hit up social networks daily… and over a third (35%) jump on five times a day. No prizes for guessing 18-29 year olds as the most prolific users of social media (99% of them). The 30-39 year olds aren’t far off the pace (96%, up 14 points), but those numbers drop significantly for the 50-64 and 65+ age brackets (66% vs 47% respectively)… the story for marketers here isn’t the relatively low penetration, but the potential for improvement, as seen in the 16 point jump in 40-49s in the past year (now 86%).

They may have different names depending on the platform, but on average we have 469 friends, followers or contacts on the big six (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Google+, Instagram). Whatever they’re called, we’re not averse to culling them (39%).

The big picture is about pictures

In its infancy, social media was a bulletin board of status updates, but Australians have moved on: visual content is where it’s at. Platforms catering to this are the big winners, with Snapchat almost doubling in popularity among social media users, taking the title of fastest growing (22% to 40% vs Instagram’s strong 31% to 46% jump). Sensing this shift, Twitter has been fiddling with algorithms and layouts to prioritise images. The payoff? Greater uptake among social media users, from 19% to 32%.

Being picture-based isn’t everything, however. Pinterest remains an also-ran in the social sphere (along with Google+), but their share at least held steady at 10% each. LinkedIn should be so lucky—it seems to be on the nose, appeal softening from 24% to 18%.

Facebook dominates social media

Snapchat’s impressive growth is nice but doesn’t touch the might of Facebook, which boasts a stunning 94% of Australian social media users, with 81% also using their Messenger service. A visit to Facebook sucks up an average of 23 minutes, but delve a little deeper and it’s not all rosy. We’re now ‘only’ logging on 25 times weekly, down from 32—all up, that’s two and a half hours less Facebook time each week. Still, the platform accounts for a significant 10 hours of our week.

Last year, Facebook attempted to simultaneously capitalise on the popularity of visual content and curb Snapchat’s growth by aping the latter’s stories feature, used by 37% of social media users. The strategy appears to have paid off with 44% dabbling in Facebook’s version (launched April 2016) and 36% using Facebook-owned Instagram’s stories (launched August 2016). While a quarter of social users watch video via Facebook Live, only 5% have ever broadcast from this feature.

How we’re using social media

Social media certainly lives up to the ‘social’ part of its moniker: 89% use it to connect with family and friends. But the ‘media’ side is also a big deal, with 57% sharing photos or videos and 43% watching videos. The controversial proliferation of ‘fake news’ during the 2016 US presidential election hasn’t stopped more of us getting news from social media, but it’s not as trusted as old-school media (82% v 12%). Social media activism—supporting and discussing topical issues—has tailed off significantly from 39% in 2016 to 19% this year.

2017 marks a decade since Apple launched the first, game-changing iPhone and the report offers some insight into how the rise of the smartphone and social media has evolved human interaction…

  • We’re more inclined to access social media in once off limits places, such as the gym (9%) or cinema (5%).
  • 30 to 39 year olds are the demographic most likely to go social while out to dinner (33%).
  • We only see 39% of our social media friends IRL.
  • 31% (up from 17%) have connected with strangers on social networks. Three quarters of 18 to 29 year olds are open to doing so.
  • Only 5% of us have made romantic connections via social, and fewer still (2%) have ended things in the same way.

Where we’re using social media

Are we a nation of bludgers, tooling around all day on Facebook? Well, 35% of us do use social media at work… but the majority (96%) prefer the comfort of their own home (lounge 84%, bedroom 59%, kitchen 34%). In fact, outside the home, we’re more likely to get social on public transport (43%) or in the car (37%) than in the workplace.

Social networking has become so ubiquitous in our lives, we’re using it around the clock:

  • 57% say it’s one of the first things they do each morning (79% of 18 to 29 year olds)
  • Most of us (71%) use social media in the evening
  • 47% save it for lunch or break times
  • 39% reckon it’s the last thing they do before bed (65% of 18 to 29 year olds)
  • Fewer of us (35%, down 4) are using social while watching telly
  • 17% of men use social media on the toilet vs 12% of women, but 18 to 29s have fewer qualms (29%)

A new world order where you can dump someone by post (or post something while taking a dump) may take a little adjusting, but other findings pose bigger questions. Thirty-seven percent of 18-29’s have experienced anxiety when they can’t access social media and bullying is a concern, particularly for regional populations. Nearly a quarter (23%) have witnessed harassment on social media compared to 15% of their metropolitan counterparts and they’re more than twice as likely to be victims of social media bullying (9% vs 4%).

Brands and social media
The news for brands is mixed. Fewer Australians follow businesses on social media than last year (36% to 24%)… those who do are often after discounts (54%) and giveaways (48%). Yet consumers still turn to social media to research a brand before buying, particularly for electrical goods (47%) furniture/homewares (42%) and fashion (35%). Once someone’s done the research, odds are slightly better than 50/50 they’ll go on to buy, usually online (61%). These trends help provide job opportunities in the field of social media marketing and content marketing

The findings back up the accepted wisdom that ‘vanity metrics’—raw numbers of followers, likes and shares—are just part of the story. Consumers are still paying attention, even if they don’t click ‘follow’, so a social presence is important. Respondents said brands can build trust through positive interactions on social media (64%) and with engaging posts (63%)… so it seems as much as social media continues to evolve, content is still king.

Read the full report

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