Most of us are on at least one form of social media which we use everyday. Sometimes we use them to see what events are going on, to keep in touch with friends or even just to scroll through our newsfeed when we are bored during lectures. Facebook continues to be the most used form of social networking by far, but other sites and apps are becoming more and more popular. In the last two years, Pinterest, Google Plus, LinkedIn and Instagram have all seen a rise in membership in Ireland. Ipsos MRBI is a market research firm based in Ireland, whose latest Social Media Tracker, a survey of 1000 Irish people’s social media usage, was published in January of this year.
According to the survey, Instagram is the fastest-growing form of social media in Ireland. The app saw a 10% increase in membership in each of 2015 and 2016, and now 28% of the country are members. This is around double the increase seen by LinkedIn, Google Plus and Pinterest in that same time. It has the second highest daily usage of any form of social media in Ireland after Facebook.
Facebook membership has gone down by three per cent in the last three months of 2016, but has remained steady overall in the past two years. It reports the highest daily usage of any social media in Ireland, with 74%. The highest membership is in the age demographic of 25–34 year-olds, but this only makes up 29% of its overall users. It has a wide audience and is used by a lot of people from older age categories as well. 70% of businesses in Ireland have a presence on the website. This gives them the chance to learn about and connect with their consumers and market.
The amount of information uploaded to the internet has been increasing as well. Around one quarter (24%) said they uploaded more information now than they did a year ago. One in five Irish people said that they would make a post at least once a day. Around half said that they would make a comment online at least once a week. This increase in the amount of information available has meant that more jobs are predicted to be needed in IT over the next few years. Every two years, the amount of data in the world doubles. Gartner, a technology research company, has said that that this could mean that there will be millions more jobs available in the next few years in IT. This would lead to great employment levels here in Ireland.
Social media has become a bit of a false friend for advertisement, however. Around a decade ago, social networking sites boasted that they would bring a new platform for major brands to advertise their products. They were believed to herald a golden age for ad companies, advertising things to consumers in a way that the press, television and the radio could only dream of. For these companies, most of which are now valued at billions, advertisement is their main form of revenue.
What was the last ad you saw on Facebook? It is hard to remember any clever or witty ad that stood out to you or made you laugh. Struggling to think of one? Well, you are not alone. According to Ipsos MRBI Social Media Tracker, 64% of Facebook users cannot either. Advertising agencies were obviously quite gullible when they spent billions after being seduced by the promise of digital platforms. It is easy to see why.
The problem is, of course, that we are all too focused on our friends’ new cute profile pictures, funny memes and posts that we do not care for the ads and simply scroll past them. Television obviously does not allow us to do that. The way we use the sites may have an impact on this as well. According to Ipsos MRBI, 80% of Facebook users use their smartphones, tablets and laptops to log onto the site. Only 20% use a PC for Facebook. One quarter of Twitter users use smartphones for the site. This means that it can be harder to advertise on the website. With a PC, the website can have ads along the side of the screen as well as ads coming up on your newsfeed.
Youtube and Spotify succeed where Facebook fails. Users are forced to sit through the ads to view the videos or listen to the music. Although there is often a “skip ad” option on Youtube, you are still forced to watch the first few seconds at least, which can be enough to grab your attention. One third of Irish people said they spend as much time watching videos on Youtube as they spend watching television. 77% of users watch videos on the website at least once a week, and 31% of Irish users use it to watch tutorials as well.
It is quite clear that if the majority of Facebook users cannot recall an ad they saw on the site then advertisement is not worth the money major brands are spending on it. If Facebook wants to improve on this, they will need to force its users to watch their ads like other companies do.