So you think you're pretty progressive about social media.You're blogging, posting videos on YouTube and engaging clients andprospects on the Internet.

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Don't get too complacent. Establishing a presence on socialmedia platforms can be like building a sand castle—when the tideshifts, you may need to start from scratch.

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That's the takeaway from a recent study compiled by BusinessIntelligence, which finds that social media platforms areconstantly evolving—and what's hot with one demographic today cancool off pretty quickly.

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Examining more than a dozen sources, the report finds that oldersocial networks are maturing, while newer social messaging apps arequickly gaining younger users.

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Here are the findings, in a nutshell:

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Facebook is big with the ladies.

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Women in the U.S. are more likely to use Facebook than men byabout 10 percentage points.

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Facebook is still tops with teens.

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Despite reports suggesting that Facebook is becoming yourgrandma's social network, Facebook has more daily teen users thanany other social network.

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Instagram is the new “it” platform.

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U.S. teens consider Instagram the “most important” social mediaplatform; plus, 83% of U.S. teens in wealthy households are onInstagram.

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LinkedIn tops Twitter with U.S. adults.

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With a core user demographic of adults between 30 and 49,LinkedIn is the platform of choice for users at the peak of theircareers.

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Twitter: Where the boys are.

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Pew found that 22% of men use Twitter, compared with only 15% ofwomen.

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YouTube is bigger than television.

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Nearly half of the 18-to-34 demo visited YouTube betweenDecember 2013 and February 2014, ahead of TV properties includingESPN.

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Snapchat is the young, hot kid on theblock.

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More than 6 out of 10 Snapchat users are in the 18-to-24 agegroup, compared to 28% of Instagram users, according to Informate,which measures the activity of mobile users.

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None of this comes as a surprise to Ryan Hanley, CIC, digitalmarketing lead at TrustedChoice.com and a longtime observer of howagencies engage consumers on social media.

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What surprised me was Ryan's observation that social media isstill a hard sell in the industry—even for young insuranceprofessionals. Ryan said he had just spoken to a group of younginsurance agents in Virginia, most of whom admitted that they don'tdo much marketing on social media.

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Why? Ryan says it comes to a lack of support from older agencyowners, and the fact that producers don't need to engage on socialmedia. The compensation structure of insurance, which attractsyoung people in the first place, means most producers can whip upenough business the old-fashioned way to make a comfy living. Thefact that the independent agency system's retention rates are sohigh—in the mid 80%, compared with GEICO's, which is somethingaround 40%, Hanley says—means that when it comes to marketing,we're a victim of our own success.

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The problem is, direct writers and captives are slicing anddicing the sort of information hinted at in the BusinessIntelligence study and using it to go after specific demographicson social networks, while independent agents are not.

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This may change drastically once today's crop of young producersstart becoming agency principals, Ryan says. With 65% of theindustry being within five years of retirement, this could occurpretty quickly— “But I don't know if we should wait that long,” headds.

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