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7 Big Social Media Trends in 2015

by Peter Thomas Ricci

From Facebook, to Instagram, to WhatsApp and Kik, there are major movements going on in the social media world.

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With its wide cast of users, limited cost and low barrier to entry, social media has quickly become one of the key facets in most agents’ marketing strategies. But despite those benefits, social media is a forever shifting industry, one where yesterday’s strategies are often upended by today’s trends.

That fact was confirmed in a new study from Pew Research Center, which detailed just how much the social media landscape has changed in the last couple of years. Here are seven of the most notable findings from the report:

1. Messaging in the Mobile Sphere – Mobile messaging apps have grown increasingly popular, with 36 percent of smartphone owners now using such apps as WhatsApp, Kik or iMessage. Young adults are especially proficient in mobile messaging, with 49 percent of smartphone owners aged 18 to 29 using such apps, compared with 37 percent of 30 to 49 year olds and 24 percent of the 50-plus crowd. Also of note is that mobile messaging is more prominent in urban settings. Forty-two percent of urban smartphone owners use messaging apps, compared with 37 percent of suburban owners and just 22 percent of rural owners.

2. The Youthful Appeal of Auto-Delete Apps – Only 17 percent of smartphone owners use auto-delete apps such as Snapchat and Wickr, but 41 percent of 18 to 29 year olds use them. That compares with 11 percent of 30 to 49 year olds and 4 percent of owners 50 and older.

3. A Social Media Shift – While both Facebook and Twitter have seen their usage numbers plateau – Facebook’s 72 percent of Web users is nearly unchanged from 2013, and Twitter’s 23 percent is static from last year – both Pinterest and Instagram have seen their growth double in the last three years. Since 2012, Pinterest’s usage percentage has jumped from 15 to 31 percent, while Instagram’s has grown from 13 percent to 28 percent. Granted, from 2014 to 2015, both sites saw slower growth than in years past, so those rates may not continue into 2016.

4. Facebook and the Elderly – Although Facebook’s overall share of Web users has plateaued, its popularity among all age groups continues to equalize. Nearly a majority of those over  65 (48 percent) now use Facebook, as do 64 percent of those 50 to 64.

5. Pinning Women, Suburbia and the Middle Class – Pinterest is overwhelmingly used by women, with 44 percent of female Internet users visiting the site (compared with just 16 percent of male users). Pinterest users are also more commonly found in the suburbs (34 percent of Web users, compared to 26 percent of urban users) and among the middle class (41 percent of users making between $50,000 and $74,999, compared with 24 percent of those making $30,000 or less).

6. Instagram and Minorities – Instagram usage makes up a far greater share of minority Internet users than it does for white users. For black and Hispanic Internet users, 47 and 38 percent, respectively, are on the platform, compared with 21 percent of white users. Instagram is also popular with a majority of 18 to 29 year olds, with 55 percent using the app; that compares with 28 percent of 30 to 49 year olds, 11 percent of 50 to 64 year olds and just 4 percent of those over 65.

7. Repeated Engagement – Facebook is still the king of daily usage, with 70 percent of its users visiting the site on such a basis; however, Instagram is close behind with 59 percent of its users, and that share has grown from 49 percent from a year ago. Pinterest has also seen notable daily usage growth, rising from 17 percent of users to 27 percent.

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