Are we getting tired of social media?

Are we getting tired of social media?

The scandal around the use of data harvested on Facebook has caused many people to reassess their use of the social networking site and saw the rise of the #DeleteFacebook meme. However, it appears that the biggest social network is as addictive as a Class A drug and many of us are finding it difficult to take ourselves off it.

In the wake of the Facebook data scandal, one study for Techpinions found that 9% of users had deleted their account as a result of privacy concerns. That sounds like a lot but when you have more than 2.2 billion monthly active users then Mark Zuckerberg is unlikely to be too worried about 9% here or there.

The privacy issue may be a blip on the Facebook horizon but there are other trends at work. A new survey by the respected Pew Research Center reveals that the adoption of social media looks different depending on where you are.

The charts below show how many adults use the internet, have a smartphone and use online social networking sites respectively. The blue lines represent the advanced economies while the green ones represent emerging and developing economies. The data is based on more than 45,000 respondents in 37 countries.

The chart on the right, showing social media usage, is perhaps the most interesting. It shows a decline in usage in advanced economies and a sharp uptick in emerging and developing economies. It is in the advanced economies such as the countries of the European Union that we have the most stringent privacy laws, so perhaps there is a connection there.

There are some countries which do not follow these trends.

For example, 75% of adult Jordanians say they use social media; this means that of the eight-in-ten Jordanians who use the internet, 94% are active on social media platforms. Social media use is also widespread among internet users in the Philippines, Indonesia, Lebanon and Tunisia. In Germany, however, 87% of people use the internet but less than half say they use social media.

These findings will be of interest to travel industry marketers wondering whether to continue to invest in social media.

The social media habits of teenagers are interesting to look at too, as they represent the next generation of people who will become consumers of travel. Pew researchers found that 95% of teens have a smartphone and 45% say they are online almost constantly.

But where are they spending their time on social? Fewer and fewer are doing it on Facebook. The chart below shows which platforms US teens are using.

This has changed dramatically in the three years since the organisation carried out its last survey.

In 2014-2015, the Center found that 71% of teens were Facebook users, a number that has now dropped to 51%. Teens are clearly deserting Facebook in droves, leaving for Snapchat and Instagram. Though Facebook may not be worried by this either as it has owned Instagram since 2012.

Destinations are increasingly looking at Snapchat and Instagram for their campaigns. I wrote a blog about this a couple of years ago and it is now gaining greater currency.

Paris ran a Snapchat campaign during Paris Fashion Week which saw almost 6 million people view special filters created for the event.  Christophe Decloux from the Paris Region Tourist Board told Mobile Marketing magazine: “For the first time, we created a digital campaign with Snapchat during the Paris Fashion Week and we are very proud of it, as it helped to promote Paris Region towards the fashion community. We want to use more and more social networks to promote Paris Region – the amazing results of this campaign are very encouraging.”

So, to answer the question posed by this post, we are not tired of social media just yet. Facebook still remains fertile ground for many travel and tourism marketers but looking ahead they may need to spend more money where teens spend their time.



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Mark Frary is co-founder of Travel Perspective, a social and digital consultancy working with travel companies and tourism organisations to create successful marketing campaigns He is an author and writer specialising in travel, social media and technology. He writes regularly for The Times and has written for many other publications including the Evening Standard, the Independent on Sunday, the Daily Express, Food & Travel, ABTA magazine, the easyJet magazine and Teletext.  Mark also gives expert advice to leisure and business travel companies on their social media and communications strategies and is the co-founder of Social Travel Market, an annual conference on the use of social media in travel at World Travel Market. He is the author of seven books including The Origins of the Universe for Dummies and is currently working on a biography of the ski pioneer Erna Low. Mark lives in Ampthill in Bedfordshire, UK with his wife and three children.

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