So you think you’re pretty progressive about social media. You’re blogging, posting videos on YouTube and engaging clients and prospects on the Internet.
Don’t get too complacent. Establishing a presence on social media platforms can be like building a sand castle—when the tide shifts, you may need to start from scratch.
That’s the takeaway from a recent study compiled by Business Intelligence, which finds that social media platforms are constantly evolving—and what’s hot with one demographic today can cool off pretty quickly.
Examining more than a dozen sources, the report finds that older social networks are maturing, while newer social messaging apps are quickly gaining younger users.
Here are the findings, in a nutshell:
Facebook is big with the ladies.
Women in the U.S. are more likely to use Facebook than men by about 10 percentage points.
Facebook is still tops with teens.
Despite reports suggesting that Facebook is becoming your grandma’s social network, Facebook has more daily teen users than any other social network.
Instagram is the new “it” platform.
U.S. teens consider Instagram the “most important” social media platform; plus, 83% of U.S. teens in wealthy households are on Instagram.
LinkedIn tops Twitter with U.S. adults.
With a core user demographic of adults between 30 and 49, LinkedIn is the platform of choice for users at the peak of their careers.
Twitter: Where the boys are.
Pew found that 22% of men use Twitter, compared with only 15% of women.
YouTube is bigger than television.
Nearly half of the 18-to-34 demo visited YouTube between December 2013 and February 2014, ahead of TV properties including ESPN.
Snapchat is the young, hot kid on the block.
More than 6 out of 10 Snapchat users are in the 18-to-24 age group, compared to 28% of Instagram users, according to Informate, which measures the activity of mobile users.
None of this comes as a surprise to Ryan Hanley, CIC, digital marketing lead at TrustedChoice.com and a longtime observer of how agencies engage consumers on social media.
What surprised me was Ryan’s observation that social media is still a hard sell in the industry—even for young insurance professionals. Ryan said he had just spoken to a group of young insurance agents in Virginia, most of whom admitted that they don’t do much marketing on social media.
Why? Ryan says it comes to a lack of support from older agency owners, and the fact that producers don’t need to engage on social media. The compensation structure of insurance, which attracts young people in the first place, means most producers can whip up enough business the old-fashioned way to make a comfy living. The fact that the independent agency system’s retention rates are so high—in the mid 80%, compared with GEICO’s, which is something around 40%, Hanley says—means that when it comes to marketing, we’re a victim of our own success.
The problem is, direct writers and captives are slicing and dicing the sort of information hinted at in the Business Intelligence study and using it to go after specific demographics on social networks, while independent agents are not.
This may change drastically once today’s crop of young producers start becoming agency principals, Ryan says. With 65% of the industry being within five years of retirement, this could occur pretty quickly— “But I don’t know if we should wait that long,” he adds.