Representativeness of social media platforms in GB

 

OLJ Task 1: American Behavioural Scientist – article analysis

Read one of the articles in this special issue and provide your thoughts and analysis of your chosen article.


Blank, G., & Lutz, C. (2017). Representativeness of Social Media in Great Britain: Investigating Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram. American Behavioral Scientist, 61(7), 741-756. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764217717559


With this article Blank and Lutz add to the statistical evidence that describe the social characteristics of notable social media platforms. They analyse demographical user characteristics (such as age, gender, income, education and life circumstances), as well as antecedent factors (such as self-efficacy, skills, privacy concerns, and mobile or non-mobile devices), of six popular social media platforms among their users in Great Britain.

The research focused on two specific questions:

  • What are the user characteristics?
  • Which potential biases can arise for platform-specific social media research from these user characteristics (Blank & Lutz, 2017, p. 743)?

image by mohamed_hassan, downloaded from pixabay

The authors conclude that the factors influencing each of the platforms differ and that no single social media platform is representative of the general population (p. 742). Of the 12 predictors used, age seem to be the strongest and most significant (p. 744). They report that their data show social media users are younger and better educated, with higher income than the average Brit (p. 747). While “younger users are more likely to use participatory media” (p. 745). Gender, socioeconomic status and life circumstances play smaller roles in the adoption of social media platforms, while device (mobile vs. non-mobile) seem to affect which platforms users adopt.

I wonder why the authors do not inform us of how they decided on the six specific social media platforms to investigate? Similar recent studies by Pew (users in the US) and Hootsuite/We Are Social (users world-wide) confirm the top popularity of Facebook (“Social Media,” 2018; Kemp, 2018, p.59). These studies also include Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Google+ is mentioned by neither and its user numbers were deemed so insignificant by Google that it recently closed the platform (Schwarz, 2018). Globally significant social media platforms, such as Whatsapp (50% of UK social media users claim use) and Snapchat (25% of UK social media users claim use) are strangely absent (Kemp, 2018, p.140).

Through research following the reading of this article I have learnt to take careful note of the social media usage “numbers” so widely reported on. I agree with Pearce (2015) that “Counting social media site users is popular yet fraught with challenges (p.1).

On a practical level, I have learnt from this article to take careful note of the age groups to which I direct a social media campaign. What works for parents (probably Facebook) may not work for students (rather Instagram or Snapchat). Teachers may respond well to Twitter, but before making decisions my specific audience must be polled to determine preference.

A bonus from the article is the depth of the bibliography, which will provide interesting reading as I become immersed in INF506.


References

Blank, G., & Lutz, C. (2017). Representativeness of Social Media in Great Britain: Investigating Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram. American Behavioral Scientist, 61(7), 741-756. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764217717559

Chaffey, D. (2018, March 28). Global social media research summary 2018. Retrieved November 4, 2018, from Smart Insights website: https://www.smartinsights.com/social-media-marketing/social-media-strategy/new-global-social-media-research/

Digital in 2018. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2018, from Hootsuite website: file:///Users/grethawocke/Downloads/Digital-in-2018-001-Global-Overview-Report-v1.02-L%20(1).pdf

Greenwood, S., Perrin, A., & Duggan, M. (2016, November 11). Social media use in 2018. Retrieved November 4, 2018, from Pew Research Centre website: http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/11/11/social-media-update-2016/

Kemp, S. (2018, January). Digital in 2018. Retrieved from We Are Social/Hootsuite website: https://wearesocial.com/uk/blog/2018/01/global-digital-report-2018

Pearce, K. E. (2013). Counting to nowhere: Social media adoption and use as an opportunity for public scholarship and engagement. Social Media + Society, 1(1), 1-3. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305115578672

Rainie, L. (2018, March 27). Americans’ complicated feelings about social media in an era of privacy concerns. Retrieved November 4, 2018, from Pew Research Centre website: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/27/americans-complicated-feelings-about-social-media-in-an-era-of-privacy-concerns/

Schwarz, B. (2018, October 8). Google to close Google+ after 7 years: A look back at the impact it once had on Google search. Retrieved November 4, 2018, from Search Engine Land website: https://searchengineland.com/google-to-close-google-after-7-years-a-look-back-at-the-impact-it-once-had-on-google-search-306360

Sehl, K. (2018, April 25). 100+ Social media demographics that matter to marketers. Retrieved November 4, 2018, from Hootsuite website: https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-demographics/

Smith, A., & Anderson, M. (2018, March 1). Social media use in 2018. Retrieved November 4, 2018, from Pew Research Centre website: http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/

Social media analytics: A cheat sheet of everything you can measure. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2018, from Spredfast website: https://www.spredfast.com/social-media-tips/social-media-analytics-cheat-sheet-everything-you-can-measure

Social media use fact sheet. (2018, February 5). Retrieved November 4, 2018, from Pew Research Centre website: http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/social-media/

The 2018 social audience guide. (n.d.). Retrieved November 4, 2018, from Spredfast website: https://www.spredfast.com/social-media-tips/social-media-demographics-current

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