Fresh data on the way consumers interact with social media platforms has revealed that many view social as a way to promote themselves, rather than as a destination for fun and entertainment.
IPG Mediabrands-owned agency UM has released the ninth annual findings from its global social media tracker, Wave. 52,000 people in 78 countries were surveyed, and the results have been presented in tandem with the analysis of over 60m online consumer interactions and emotional profiling.
The findings have indicated that 85% of social media users actively spend time managing their profiles online - almost in the same way a brand would. UM found that compared to seven years ago, people are 40% less likely to see social networks as a place for fun and entertainment and are 30% more likely to see them as platforms on which to promote themselves.
The study also revealed that expectations of brands are at an all-time high thanks to the constant ‘on’ culture driven by digital. 85% of consumers globally use instant messaging to stay in touch with family and friends, and in turn they expect a response instantly from brands. This economy of urgency has contributed to the success of brands like Deliveroo and Amazon Prime as well as platforms that provide instant access to content like Netflix and Spotify.
The number of consumers who said they wanted brands to create content worth sharing had grown by 15%, while desire for access to news and updates about product developments had dropped by 13% year-on-year.
However, despite there being more opportunities for interaction UM's head of insight, EMEA and author of Wave 9, Glen Parker, warned that advertisers need to be wary of timings.
“The omnipresence of social channels and mobile devices provides advertisers today with countless opportunities for engagement, but it is meaningful moments that connect brands with their audience in an emotionally relevant way,” he asserted, adding advertisers need "to go back to basics" and understand their audience.
In the UK alone almost half (46%) of social media users agreed they are influenced by opinions shared online, increasing to 57% among 25-34 year olds. Twitter was cited as the platform most likely to influence world opinion, while Facebook was named as the platform most discussed among consumers' own friendship groups.