Last week, CivicScience held a webcast in which we shared a number of insights from our consumer research platform related to broader social media trends and site-specific audiences. (If you’d like a copy of the insights, please email us.)

A key message that we delivered — one that also has been voiced very recently by leading academic experts at Carnegie Mellon University and McGill University — is that reliance on Social Media Monitoring (SMM) and reporting tools solely for social media audience insights is an incomplete and potentially flawed practice. SMM tools are certainly very good at reporting near real-time activity about subsets of social media users, but they are not able to provide a well-researched, in-depth, and trended picture of audience profiles and allow for further segmentation and analysis.

There are two examples we will provide that highlight how a solution like CivicScience (particularly with our current repository of 29 million+ consumer respondent profiles and thousands of actively running questions) can deliver deeper insights to enhance social media strategic planning:

Tracking Trended Sentiment on Social Media’s Influence

In a study we released a few months ago, we shared how our data is able to track and identify relatively rapid changes in consumer sentiment — in this case, regarding which is the biggest influencer on consumption decisions: TV ads; Internet ads, or social media chatter.  Turns out, social media became a much more popular choice over the summer months and through early fall 2014 — rising 10% points while TV advertising dropped by 10%.

But not only did we showcase the top-line trend by month, we shared “mini-personas” of aggregate consumers based on what influences them the most, by mining extensive data we have on each consumer profile. A snapshot of these personas is shown below, and you can also read more in coverage of this report featured in Quirk’s blog.

What's influencing consumer purchase decisions shifts from TV advertising to social media chatter in 2014.

TV advertising tends to influence an older, more ‘traditional’ and mainstream audience who does indeed spend a lot more time watching live TV programming. However, what most interested us about the data is that it paints distinct pictures of those most influenced by Internet ads versus social media feeds. There’s a lot more data from CivicScience available too; the tables above only touch on some of the statistically meaningful differences.

Knowing Social’s Most Active Users

Many people have accounts on various social sites, but how many of them are actively engaged? In other words, who makes up your truly “reachable” audience when it comes to social media-based marketing activity? Well, we can tell you.

By asking consumers to self-report their level of overall frequency of use of any particular social media site, we can segment and further study those aggregate respondents based on their engagement levels. In this example, we wanted to identify: (1) which sites had the highest % of active users, and (2) who are those active users?

Social Media Sites - by Active User Data - December 2014

As you can see, we collected fairly large sample sizes for each social media site studied: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn.  (We also have data on Vine, Snapchat, and YouTube not shared here.) What we can see is that Facebook and Instagram have the highest percentages of current users who are actively using those sites on a daily to weekly basis. LinkedIn and Pinterest have the lowest rates in active users.

So, who are these active users by site? Here’s what we learned about how they compare to infrequent users:

  • Facebook: Daily users are 33% more likely to be women. Daily use peaks among 35-54 year olds, but more 18-34 year olds use it compared to general population numbers. Men are more likely to use it less often or never.
  • Twitter: Active users peak among 18-24 year olds (23%), but no gender difference. Abandonment rate is highest among women (57%) and 35-44 year olds (19%).
  • Instagram: Active users are highest among women (60%), and 50% of active users  are under age 25. Abandonment rate is highest among women (59%) and also among those aged 35-44 (20%).
  • Pinterest: Active users are predominantly women (80%), and among all users peak in the 18-24 and 35-44 age groups (19% each). Abandonment is highest among 18-24 and 45-54 year olds.
  • LinkedIn: Active users are somewhat more male (56%) and among all users peak with those aged 35-54 (22%). Abandonment rate is highest among same age group (18%) and somewhat more among women (54%).

For two sites — Twitter and Pinterest — we looked at the data beyond core demographics to other attributes we have collected from those users:

Insights on Twitter’s Most Active Users

When compared to less active users, active and frequent Twitter users are also 34% more likely to be single and never married. They are 42% more likely to go to the movies at least once per month. They are 2.5X more likely to love Snapchat, and 51% more likely to say they love Apple products. They are also 38% more likely to exercise at a gym at least a few times per month.

When it comes to gender differences between only the active Twitter users, we find that women are more likely than men to make lower incomes (under $50,000 per year). Women are more likely to read grocery product nutritional information more frequently and to use reusable shopping bags at every chance. Meanwhile, active male Twitter users are more likely than their female counterparts to closely following trends in electronics and technology and to tell others about new brands of technology. They are also 76% more likely than women to say they typically go out to eat for lunch.

Insights on Pinterest’s Most Active Users

As the demographic data made very clear, Pinterest is a largely female-user dominated social sharing site. Its most active users are those who are homeowners, currently employed, and 44% have children. When it comes to purchase behavior, 40% of them always consult online reviews before buying and 37% make it a priority to purchase environmentally friendly products. They are more likely to own a tablet computer, enjoy cooking, and 38% of these active users say they “closely” follow Major League Baseball. Also, 35% of them “love” using Instagram.

We hope that these insights — aside from being interesting — showcase how CivicScience can be a valuable addition to social media research and strategic planning for marketers.


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