10 Significant Things You Likely Didn't Know About Social Media But Should

You probably won't believe some of these facts about social media strategies, but the studies don't lie (we hope). Test them yourself.

We love to make decisions and form strategies based on statistics. It’s why we A/B test and how we change directions on our social sharing.

Who doesn’t love a good statistic, especially one that has an actionable next step?

You’re likely to find a sea of statistics for social media—I know I’m amazed at how many are out there. My favorite finds are those that are just a bit surprising or unique or even counterintuitive.

I’ve saved some of the best social media stats I’ve found over the past few months and I’m happy to share them here with you. Keep reading to see some fun, surprising, and (you guessed it) actionable stats for how you can better share on social media. Got any stats that you’ve found helpful? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

1. Your biggest advocates have the fewest followers

When looking at your social media monitoring strategy, note that your brand/company mentions on social will likely not come from social’s biggest players. Very few, in fact, will.

Social monitoring website Mention analyzed over 1 billion social mentions from the past two years, and in their analysis they found that 91% of mentions come from people with fewer than 500 followers.

And these are potential brand advocates—only 6% of the mentions in this study were deemed overtly negative.

What you can do with this stat: Putting this stat another way, fewer than 1 out of every 10 mention will come from a power user. You can prioritize these power users if you want, but it’s also important to give a quick and delightful response to those with few followers—the vast majority of those talking about you.

2. Twitter has 6 distinct communication networks

The Pew Research Center and the Social Media Research Foundation combined on a report that analyzed thousands of Twitter conversations to come up with six distinct communication networks. Which of these six do you most closely identify with?

What you can do with this stat: Tight crowds and community clusters seem like apt groupings for brands interested in a lot of engagement. Support networks, too, can be a type of communication network for brands, especially if you are doing customer support on Twitter. Analyze your own place in these Twitter networks to see where you fit and if you need to change your strategy to mix with a different group.

3. Marketers say written content trumps visuals

Social Media Examiner’s annual survey of nearly 3,000 marketers leads to a ton of insights into how marketers think about social media and sharing.

Interestingly enough, in a social landscape dominated by visuals, it is written content that most resonates with marketers. Over half of marketers (58%) claim written content is their most important form of social content. Visual content came in second (19%.)

What you can do with this stat: Original written content can be a great opportunity for thought leadership, authority, and brand awareness. When you’re creating new content to share, keep in mind the power of storytelling. If you’d rather zig while the others zag, this stat shows you some fertile ground for developing lesser practiced strategies, like focusing on visual content.

4. You have less than an hour to respond on Twitter

Consumers expect a lot from you on Twitter, as recent research by Lithium Technologies confirms. The real-time nature of Twitter has led to incredible expectations. According to Lithium, 53% of users who tweet at a brand expect a response within the hour. The percentage increases to 72% for those with a complaint.

What you can do with this stat: Tools like Must Be Present can help you track your response time on Twitter, or you can invest in software like Spark Central to stay on top of your customer support tweets. At the very least, consider the timeliness of your response to your Twitter followers: Either grab a monitoring service to manage your timeline or get really good at checking your Twitter email alerts.

5. Late night is the best time for retweets

TrackMaven analyzed over 1.7 million tweets to come up with data behind the best practices for earning a retweet. The best time of day to tweet for a retweet? After-hours, between 10:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. ET.

This advice follows the Late-Night Infomercial Effect (share when share volume is lower, and your content has a greater chance to stand out), so it makes sense to see that engagement after hours would be highest. Track Maven also found that Sundays are the best day of the week to get retweets and that tweeting with the word "Retweet" or with all caps or exclamation points leads to more retweets.

What you can do with this data: Test out the after-hours theory with some of your own tweets and see how engagement changes based on the time of day and day of week that you tweet. If you’re feeling particularly bold, you can try all caps and exclamation points, too.

6. Fridays are Facebook’s best day for engagement

The Social Intelligence Report from Adobe analyzed over 225 billion Facebook posts from the past two years to come up with some data-backed recommendations for Facebook marketers. Their research on the best day to post pointed to a clear winner: Fridays, which receive more comments, likes, and shares than any other day of the week.

What you can do with this stat: Be sure that your posting schedule includes a Friday post, and you might even consider saving your best stuff for the end of the week.

7. Photos drive engagement on Facebook pages

It’s likely that a stat about the power of visual content is not surprising to you, but how about a stat of this magnitude? According to Social Bakers, 87% of a Facebook page’s interactions happen on photo posts. No other content type receives more than 4% of interactions.

What you can do with this stat: The obvious takeaway here is to post more photos—and not just any photos. Choose photos that support your post or tell a story on their own. Certainly, Facebook pages are already embracing photos as posts: 75% of page updates are photos.

8. Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter drive the most traffic

Social sharing site Shareaholic revealed an interesting split in the way that social media sites refer traffic back to a website. Turns out, the data points to social being a source of either quantity or quality.

In terms of quantity, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter are the top three referrers of traffic. The Shareaholic study looked at a four-month period of data (December through March), covering more than 300,000 websites. In their study of engaged traffic, the lowest-performing sites for referral volume came out on top for engagement.

YouTube, Google+, and LinkedIn ranked as the top three sources for referrals in terms of time on site, pages per visit, and bounce rate. Social referrals engaged What you can do with this data: Get involved in social media accordingly. If you’re after a big reach and spreading brand awareness, go with Facebook and Twitter, and think long and hard about joining Pinterest, too. If you’re interested in more qualified traffic, then be sure to invest time in Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube. These stats recommend a broad social strategy, if you have the time and resources to pull it off.

9. Aim for 28, 118 or 385 interactions per post (it depends on your total fans)

As Facebook page reach has declined, we marketers are left wondering what constitutes good engagement these days. Earlier this year, Social Bakers analyzed more than 40,000 pages to see exactly where the average engagement lies for pages of all sizes. Pages with 1 to 9,999 fans: 28 interactions per post 10,000 to 99,999 fans: 118 interactions per post.100,000 to 499,999 fans: 385 interactions per post.

Interactions represent the total of comments, shares, and likes. In addition to the benchmark data above, Social Bakers also found that interactions on a particular post are directly correlated to a post’s reach. The more engagement a post gets, the more people will see it.

What you can do with this stat: Measure your Facebook page’s success against the benchmarks in this Social Bakers study. As time goes on, reach and interactions may continue falling, so these targets could be great to aim for but not the end of the world if you miss.

10. There’s a best day for everything on Pinterest

The Pinterest blog recently revealed which categories get the most engagement on each day of the week. Here’s how the calendar lays out:

  • Monday: Fitness
  • Tuesday: Technology
  • Wednesday: Inspirational quotes
  • Thursday: Fashion
  • Friday: Humor
  • Saturday: Travel
  • Sunday: Food and crafts

What you can do with this data: If possible, create a Pinterest board that touches on each of these seven topics, then build this sort of specific sharing into your Pinterest schedule.

Recap

Data and statistics like these can give you a good starting point for testing out your own action steps and strategies. Start with these stats, test them for yourself, and find the best system that works for you. Then come back and share! I’d love to hear how it goes for you.

Which of these social media stats stood out to you? Which ones might you act on? Do you have any favorite stats that have driven your social media decisions lately?

This article originally appeared in Buffer and is reprinted with permission.

[Image: Flickr user Intel Free Press]

Add New Comment

19 Comments

  • zhannaks

    Great article! Enjoyed reading it! Valuable information that can help any business to grow. Thank You for sharing.

  • William Forrest

    We can also use tools to manage our social media accounts. It will be easier for us to monitor the comments, complaints and suggestions of our customer and prospective client.

  • I love you guys as the #1 leader in listening feedback. Would love to have you as our lead sponsor in this space at www.SocialMediaSummitEast.com in November. Excellent job as usual!

  • I was surprised that written content trumps visual - I love great photos and inforgraphics and they draw me in to an account. Also - late night for Retweets! I'll remember that one.

  • Remarkable insights! I especially appreciate the "What you can do with this data" segments. So often I read articles like then and wonder "now what?" Well this article certainly delivers in the "actionable intelligence" department.

  • I am an emerging media and communications major in college focusing in social media marketing and this article was very interesting to me and I really enjoyed reading it. However, I did find one particular thing rather confusing. On number 3 it talks about how written content is more successful than images, but on number 7 it shows how photos are the most successful (on Facebook). Is number 3 a stat of multiple social media platforms averaged together while number 7 is strictly referring to Facebook? I was slightly confused about that. Can anyone explain this to me?

  • Excellent article, I have experienced and tracked very similar results. I would also like to add that very little attention is rarely given to the power of the blog platform available through blogger.com. Of all the social platforms I have used, I have personally experienced the speed with which you are able to propagate information on the web by posting an article through blogger - not to mention the added benefit of improving the ranking position within google (google owns blogger) and organic top placement in google search. I concentrate on social media marketing that is organic, viral and spreadable #spreadableideas

  • Big fan of everything happening at @buffer but without question my favorite blogger right now is Kevan Lee as everything he shares is must read! Another great post here!

  • lazora

    if social media was designed for customer service than I am okay with this post. however, social media is becoming more frail and smaller than it ever was, despite the amount of users. And with more rabbit holes (a la the content diagram), "social" is actually the last thing this space is, further if we are talking about brands gaining brand power and exposure; then I am wildly underwhelmed that 91% of direct interactions are coming from people with less than 500 followers.

    you could go flyer the windshields of 2 supermarkets or churches etc in your demographic area and have more brand impact than 20 facebook posts. heck you could even add a QR code for even better conversion. (JK)

    can we let the wind out of the sails of social media and realize the purple cow of our hyper social future got milked already. social media is a desolate hallway that has become superseded by insta-noise which aptly designed the business out of their model.

    great article, but next chapter please.

  • lazora

    if social media was designed for customer service than I am okay with this post. however, social media is becoming more frail and smaller than it ever was, despite the amount of users. And with more rabbit holes (a la the content diagram), "social" is actually the last thing this space is, further if we are talking about brands gaining brand power and exposure; then I am wildly underwhelmed that 91% of direct interactions are coming from people with less than 500 followers.

    you could go flyer the windshields of 2 supermarkets or churches etc in your demographic area and have more brand impact than 20 facebook posts. heck you could even add a QR code for even better conversion. (JK)

    can we let the wind out of the sails of social media and realize the purple cow of our hyper social future got milked already. social media is a desolate hallway that has become superseded by insta-noise which aptly designed the business out of their model.

    great article, but next chapter please.

  • Declan J Sheehy

    According to Lithium, 53% of users who tweet at a brand expect a response within the hour. The percentage increases to 72% for those with a complaint. That is good to know.

  • While there is some value to be taken away from these statistics, it's important to remember each community is unique. One community of people will rarely behave like another because of numerous variables.

  • Valid and relevant stats. As a digital marketer, i'm always interested in finding ways to make stats like these actionable. I find it very useful to benchmark not only by page size, but also by type of shared content, frequency and industry - so many variables! Thanks for sharing.

  • This is terrific information. I'm a freelance social media manager, and this will really help me do effective work for my clients.

    Elisabeth Daniels @CofficeGirl

  • I am shocked that 91% of mentions come from people with fewer than 500 followers, especially since something like 96% of people have fewer than 500 followers.

  • Thanks for the helpful insights. 3, 5, & 10 were helpful. Our company works often with social and can say these insights are consistent with our experience. Thanks for bringing together these points.