Data sourced from Mumbrella, additional content by WARC staff, story reported in WARC
An increasing number of Australian social media users are rejecting Facebook in favour of communicating directly with family and friends via messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and Snapchat, a new survey has revealed.
Despite continuing to grow users, an online poll of 2,539 people, conducted by Pure Profile, found 10% of Australians aged 15+ have already deleted their Facebook app, while another 23% said they are considering doing so.
These findings were revealed in the latest release of the Datafication project into how Australians use social media, which is conducted by independent agency The Works in partnership with Dr Suresh Sood from UTS Advanced Analytics Institute.
Unveiled at the Mumbrella360 event, the study confirmed that millennials are leading the trend, although Gen X and Gen Y are following too, Mumbrella reported.
Douglas Nicol, a partner at The Works, attributed the change to the rise of untrusted “fake news” that appears in users’ timelines as well as a growing reluctance to share updates with large numbers of so-called “friends” with whom they actually have little or no connection.
“This isn’t a change within the world of social media, this is a change within every way that we communicate,” he said. “Be careful, as a brand, what you do with that medium because it is potentially highly intrusive if you employ the marketing activities of the past.”
He added that consumers appear to be rejecting the broadcast-style of newsfeed interaction, preferring instead to return to real conversations with their real friends.
Certainly, there is little doubt that the popularity of messaging apps is growing, with the survey finding that 12 million Australians now use them.
Of these, 38% (4.5m) said messaging apps are their primary method of contact, up from 33% the same time last year, while more than half (56%) said they access an app every day.
In addition, the use of Snapchat soared 55% in the past year to 4.4m people, just behind WhatsApp at 4.5m (up 35%), although Facebook Messenger remained the leading platform after recording an increase of 18% to 10.4m.
At MOP we say that what this really reveals, yet again, is that a “social media strategy” is fiendishly difficult to construct, and it certainly isn’t a “set and forget” process. What works today might not work tomorrow – and the change could be as quick as “tomorrow”, too.
Our advice is that people should avoid making long-term commitments to any one social media presence, and above all should look very hard at the blandishments of instant “social media experts” who urge advertisers to over invest in the channel.
An advertiser who, for example, dumps a very large proportion of their media buy into social media, over-excited by the sheer quantity of coverage of the “new dawn” that it represents, will find out two things very quickly.
One, that social media advertising is considered particularly intrusive by many, and has a high “annoyance” factor. That’s not good for an advertiser.
Two, that it cannot take the place of brand advertising using traditional media. It’s very hard to get emotionally excited about a social media message. What’s your favourite banner ad – you know, the one you talk about in the office the next day? Right.
In short, brands are not (as yet) built entirely or even majorly online. And they may never be. Which is very good news for TV stations and radio companies, purveyors of outdoor billboards, makers of Point of Sale, etc etc.
Another key take out from the research could be that businesses should be much more alert to the use of messaging apps to relate to their customers.
Privacy is important to consumers, especially when it comes to customer service delivery. Sure, 23 percent of people complain on social media or public forums out of vengeance, but those looking to solve a problem are likelier to do so in private if the option is made available for them. For example, American telco Sprint introduced Messenger as part of its customer service strategy, and saw a 31 percent increase in private messaging with a 23 percent decrease in comments on its public page.
So aside from privacy options for users, this can also be beneficial for your brand. People airing their grievances on your public social media profile isn’t exactly good PR for your brand, is it? Giving them the chance to vent in a private environment will, as Sprint demonstrated, decrease their dependence on public forums for reaching out.
You might also be better able to fix their issue, more quickly. Turn a complainer into a remainer. Even, an advocate. Now there’s a thought.