Demographic Shifts and Fatigues
Like all things, social media platforms age. As sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram grow and develop, so do their users. Some users who were once frequent and active participants become inactive or leave social media sites. New users enter social media communities and implement their own ethos upon them, forcing initial users out. It is important for marketers to understand the demographic shifts that occur as these social media sites grow over time to ensure that the proper channels are being used to reach target audiences.
A February 2013 Pew Research Center study entitled The Demographics of Social Media Users - 2012 surveyed 1,802 respondents in North America over the age of 18 to uncover the patterns and demographic migrations in social media. Social media sites profiled in this study included Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr. The study found that age had a direct impact on involvement in social media. About 83% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 are active with social media, compared to 77% of 30 to 49 year olds, 52% of 50 to 64 year olds and only 32% of those aged 65+.
A 2013 Pew Research study entitled Coming and Going on Facebook discusses how 61% of current users have voluntarily taken a break from using Facebook for several weeks or more. These voluntary breaks have been coined in popular media as “Facebook Fatigue.” During 2013, 38% of 18 to 29 year olds—Facebook’s former core demographic—expect to spend less time on the site or stop using it altogether. Although the reasons for taking a break from Facebook varied, most respondents stated that they were no longer interested, no longer had the time or considered it a waste of time. A smaller number admitted that drama from friends was making the site less appealing. This shift in Facebook use makes it clear that marketers must be ready to accommodate different demographics when using social media as a marketing tool.
Rather than assuming that a particular audience is using a social media site, marketers must research their core demographics before spending large amounts of capital. It is also important to take advantage of the tools that social networks provide to help marketers. For example, Facebook has a feature that enables ads to be pushed to specific age groups. Additionally, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have all taken steps to better cater to their younger users by increasing their video capabilities. These sites have also developed new tools that marketers can use to reach video-centric audiences. Staying up to date on the demographics of each social networking site, recognizing that these demographics can change over time and leveraging the tools provided by social networks to reach target demographics can prevent marketers from falling victim to demographic shifts or fatigue.