Facebook’s meteoric rise is set to continue unabated, while Twitter and ‘real life’ social activities will see a marked decline in the near future, concludes a report out this week.
The study, from independent research agency Conquest, looked into the social media habits of 16-24 year olds.
It shows that despite YouTube snapping at its heels, the Facebook monolith is fast becoming the principal means of social and commercial engagement for this elusive market; eclipsing telephone, email and even going out.
It also asserts that Twitter has peaked and may undergo a gradual decline echoing the fate of Myspace and Bebo in internet Siberia.
“Project Chatter” also found that regular Facebook devotees (91% of the sample) check their accounts over six times a day, with 30% on the site for over an hour a time.
Meanwhile, YouTube is fast becoming the major conduit for music browsing, consumption and sharing in this age group.
In contrast, 56% of Tweeters claim their activity is dwindling with an average site visit lasting five minutes.
For teenagers and young adults, social networking appears to be the central means of staying up to date and engaging with peers, showcasing oneself, ‘chatting’, ‘liking’, consuming music, videos and TV, following celebrities and brands etc.
This group tends predominantly to rely on social media to message contacts, increasingly shunning email and telephone.
Conquest also spotted a potentially disturbing trend with a significant 20% preferring to meet online than in person.
Brands with a presence on social networking sites are poised to reap benefit.
David Penn MD of Conquest, said: “Although activities relating to brand engagement are less popular than the purely social aspects of the sites, there is significantly warmer disposition from this group towards products who ‘reach out’ to them via social media, and higher propensity for consumers to ‘spread the word’ and become brand advocates.
“These brands scored more favourably in terms of being “buzzy” and generating excitement in users, teasing and tickling them into action”.
This impact is more marked amongst females and teens who tend to become ‘fans’ of brands more readily than their older counterparts, with this activity occupying a significant amount of their online time.
Whilst these users almost unanimously agreed that it is ‘cool’ to be on social networking sites, they also acknowledge that they are judged by the postings they make.
Despite this, they do not feel that this limits their expression or online behaviour, although the older age group recorded a little more circumspection in this arena.
The research was carried out by Conquest in January 2011, online, with a representative sample of 350, 16-24 year olds.
Conquest carries out quantitative and qualitative research for Heinz, Pizza Hut, L’Oreal, GoCompare, ITN News, Nationwide, Lever Bros and KFC. It is a pioneer of innovative online research methodology, welding neuroscience, communications theory and cognitive linguistics.