Finding the right needle in the haystack that is the Internet is often times an exercise in futility and frustration.

Sure, you can find “quick tips” for just about anything, a “how-to” guide for maximizing anything you’d like to maximize,  and “case studies” that illustrate someone else’s success story which you believe – for a fleeting moment – you can just as easily apply to your own situation.

Social Media Life - Workstation
Image by the tartanpodcast via Flickr

Most often the tips are oversimplified, the how-to guides leave much to be desired, and the case studies seem to more like exceptions than they are rules.

What you really need, at the beginning, middle, and end of the day, is the truth. Or something that is almost close enough to the truth: like social media statistics.

I Wanna Know Where the Stats At

As you probably know, 108% of statistics are exaggerations, so be careful what you glean from this. I did not intend for this to be a be-all, end-all answer source, but rather a launch pad for further investigation.

That said, here is my collection of social media statistics I’ve cobbled together over the past year.

Social Media in the Daily Life of Web Users

Far from complete, here is a brief (but current) breakdown of social media usage. It is (obviously) ramping up in adoption and is woven intricately into the daily lives of many web users. This trend has no sign of slowing down.

What Sources of Info Users Trust Completely on Social Media

In general, complete trust is at a premium online (and in real life, too, to be fair). People tend to trust their friends over brands, but they also tend to trust brands over independent bloggers.

  • 26% trust blog posts written by people they know
  • 23% trust posts by friends on Facebook
  • 12% trust their friends’ Twitter streams
  • 11% trust corporate blogs (We brand marketers have work to do!)
  • 9% trust Facebook updates from brands or companies
  • 8% trust fellow community member comments
  • 8% trust brand representative comments in online communities
  • 6% trust brand-run Twitter streams
  • 6% trust blog posts by independent bloggers
  • 5% trust independent blogger’s Twitter streams

When building trust in social media, people look at the following features to evaluate just how trustworthy a site or account is. Factors which build trust in social media:

  • 64% trust social media more if the dialogue is open to both positive and negative comments
  • 60% trust social media more if the author or sponsor is responsive
  • 38% trust social media more based on the size of the sponsor or authors following

On Twitter

Ever the darling of the blogosphere, Twitter has grown at an amazing rate over the past few years and has been adopted by everyone from the Fortune 500 to the revival-stage LeVar Burton. But what exactly is going on in the Twitterverse (sorry for using that terrible term)?

Behavior on Twitter

We can’t get away from seeing that blue logo on everything from the nightly news to the placemats at the local diner, but what exactly are people doing on Twitter?

  • 36% check for Tweets at least once per day.
  • 21% never check for Tweets
  • 72% post personal updates
  • 62% post work-related updates
  • 55% share links to news stories
  • 54% post general life observations (e.g. “The Metro is slow”)
  • 53% Retweet other users
  • 52% send direct messages (e.g. “Thank you for the follow, I look forward to your Tweets, please buy my eBook now on using dir msgs to monetize Twitter”)
  • 40% share photos
  • 28% share videos
  • 24% Tweet their location (Le sigh …)
  • 37% of Twitter users are more likely to purchase from a brand after becoming a follower
  • 33% of Twitter users are more likely to recommend a brand after becoming a follower

A breakdown of personal Tweets by content type:

  • 43% are conversational
  • 24% are status updates/ritualistic
  • 12% are news-related
  • 3% are seeking or giving advice
  • 1% are self-promotional (Come on, really? This number seems to be missing several hundred zeroes.)

Reasons why consumers interact with brands on Twitter:

  • 33% of active Twitter users share opinions about products or companies
  • 32% make recommendations  about products or companies
  • 30% ask for recommendations
  • Of those, 43% are sharing news or information about the brand
  • 35% are “using” the brand (e.g. “Checking out a demo of @TweetMonetizer. They rule!”)
  • 21% are voicing their opinion about the brand
  • 1% are conversing directly with the brand

A breakdown of brand/marketer Tweets by content type:

  • 75% are general information and news
  • 16% are conversing with a consumer
  • 6% are showing personality or quirks
  • 2% are coupons or sales codes
  • 1% are conversing with another brand (Keep your friends close and your enemies closer?)

When people leave – gasp! – Twitter, where are they going?

  • 47% click on news
  • 10% click on Technology-related content
  • 10% click on celebrity/entertainment content
  • 6% click on movie-related content
  • 4% click on “how-to” and DIY content
  • 23% click on “other” types of content  (Helpful, isn’t it?)

On Facebook

Facebook is bigger than the Beatles (and you know what that means). But what are people doing there (besides checking up on ex-girlfriends?)

Why Facebook users “Like” a brand on Facebook

  • 25% want to receive discounts and promotions
  • 21% are customers of the brand
  • 18% want to show support for the brand
  • 10% do it for fun and entertainment
  • 8% want to be the first to know information about the brand
  • 6% want access to exclusive content
  • 5% followed a friend’s recommendation to “like” a brand
  • 4% want to be part of the brand/fan community
  • 2% work for the brand (Doesn’t this seem low??)

What caused Facebook users to like a brand’s page in the first place?

  • 75% connected because they were invited by the brand directly
  • 59% connected because they were invited by a friend
  • 49% connected as the result of personal research

And why do people unsubscribe from a brand’s Facebook page?

  • 32% were no longer interested in the brand
  • 27% thought updates were published too frequently (i.e. Don’t flood my stream)
  • 22% thought updates were uninteresting
  • 12% plain did not like the updates
  • 7% thought updates didn’t come enough (i.e. Don’t starve my stream)
  • Only 17% of Facebook users are more likely to purchase from a brand after “liking” their page
  • 21% of Facebook users are more likely to recommend a brand after “liking” their page

Where Do People Go When They Leave Facebook?

  • 18% leave for news content
  • 18% leave for their celebrity/entertainment fix
  • 17% leave for video game-related content
  • 12% leave for technology content
  • 9% leave for “how-to” and DIY-related content
  • 26% leave for “other” reasons (Maybe they head to Twitter?)

So What Does it All Mean?

It’s fun (sort of) to look at numbers and see how social media has erupted onto the media landscape with no signs of flowing back, but what does it mean for the future of our industry?

Instead of boring you with an analysis, I figured I’d make up some statistics myself to wrap things up. Like:

  • 100% of you use social media, and will continue to do so in the near future
  • 90% of you will wish you could get your money back for reading this far
  • 87% of you will wonder why I didn’t mention YouTube, MySpace, or any of the other major social media spaces out there (I got sort of exhausted, and besides, 101 is a pretty nice number)
  • 56% of you will think this was nice, but relatively useless for drawing conclusions
  • 42% of you wish there were 101 more stats
  • 2% of you counted to see if there were really 101 stats here (and yes, I’m counting these made-up ones)
  • .001% of you will understand that I was just trying to be helpful because I personally get frustrated scouring the web for useful statistics when making a case, a PowerPoint, or a blog post on SocialMediaExplorer.com (thanks Mom!)
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About Andrew Hanelly

Andrew Hanelly

Andrew is SVP, Strategy for McMurry/TMG and for one semester in college, was a sociology major. He writes at Brain on Digital, as @hanelly on Twitter and here on Google+.

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