Why Do I Analyze Data From Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram?

One of the questions that I’ve gotten the most after my latest post is why I choose to focus on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram when talking about the best ways that annual conferences or dioceses can engage with social media. I recognize that this is a very fair question to pose, given two key points that have been given to back up the question:

  1. It can be incredibly difficult for small groups to maintain three social media presences effectively
  2. There’s a clear disparity in the percentage of users using Twitter as compared to Facebook and Instagram

So today, I’d like to explain briefly why I focus on each network, and why I don’t focus on two other key social media networks, Snapchat and Pinterest.

Facebook

Facebook is still the clear, dominant social media network almost anywhere in the world. With a worldwide daily active user base of 1.4 billion (as of December 2017)1, and with 81% of US youth and young adults (ages 18-24) stating that they have an account2, it’s still the solid first choice for any group starting their first social media account. However, there is a growing amount of evidence to support that this may not always be the case. Facebook has been facing mounting criticism for everything from claims that too much of the social network is having a detrimental effect on peoples’ mental health to issues with combating the propagation of falsified news, and a recent report from research firm eMarketer shows that an estimated 2 million people under 24 could quit Facebook altogether this year. So while Facebook is still the go-to network, it is worth keeping an eye on it to see what will happen next with it.

Twitter

Twitter is a harder one to justify on the surface. With only 40% of US youth and young adults stating that they have an account2, and only 46% of all Twitter users saying that they visit on a daily basis (and 26% of them visiting several times a day)3, it may not seem like the best use of time from a social media perspective. However, those numbers don’t paint the full story. While the percentage of US adults who use Facebook has been at 68% since 2016, Twitter has experienced a 3% growth over that time, and by all accounts that growth is expected to continue (as compared to a potential decline for Facebook as shown above)2. Also, I have encountered in my personal experience with running social media accounts for organizations that engagement on Twitter tends to be higher than on Facebook (but still less as compared to Instagram), at least with organizations targeting the 18-24 year old demographic. For both of those reasons, I believe that Twitter is certainly a social network to keep in the conversation.

Instagram

Instagram is definitely becoming a new “go-to” social network, and it’s actually one I always recommend to groups who are just starting out on social media. Instagram simply affords groups to be creative with their outreach in ways that Facebook and Twitter aren’t developed to handle primarily. And not only that, it’s a network that people as a whole are embracing wholeheartedly: over the aforementioned 2016-2018 time period, Instagram grew by an incredible 7% among US adults2. Not only that, but it’s also a very active social network: 60% of all Instagram users use the app daily (with 38% of them using it several times a day). Those numbers alone put it up there alongside Facebook and Twitter.

What about Snapchat and Pinterest?

Both Snapchat and Pinterest have large followings of their own. In fact, more young people use Snapchat as compared to Instagram, and Pinterest is the fourth-largest social network overall2. However, I don’t keep track of data on either primarily because both networks are not only more on the niche side (with Snapchat’s specialty being disappearing content and Pinterest’s being content primarily sourced from other sites), but also because they aren’t widely used by annual conferences or dioceses alike to engage with audiences (again, primarily because of their niche targets).

Hopefully, this post clarifies my position on why I place so much importance on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as the target networks for religious organizations (and why I perform all of my analysis of social media on them specifically). I do want to make one final note, though: I definitely understand any group who only uses one or two social networks in their own social media endeavors, and if that is what works for the group, then that’s great! In my opinion, simply having the presence to begin with, on any network, is a great way to conduct outreach. As with all of my posts, I hope this ends up being of some benefit to someone, and as always I appreciate any comments or questions.

Until next time,
Jacob


1 Company Info | Facebook Newsroom. Menlo Park, CA: Facebook. Accessed 6 March 2018. <https://newsroom.fb.com/company-info/>.
2 Social Media Fact Sheet. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. 5 February 2018. Accessed 6 March 2018. <http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/social-media/>.
3 Social Media Use in 2018. Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center. 1 March 2018. Accessed 4 March 2018. <http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018>.

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