Back in the 1980s, marketing scientist and statistician Andrew Ehrenberg extended William McPhee's double jeopardy model into the world of market research and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG in Europe and CPG in North America). Ehrenberg showed that larger brands tended not only to have more customers, but their customers were also more loyal. The concept of the niche brand is actually very rare, i.e. a brand which has a smaller number of customers, but where those customers are more loyal. Ehrenberg's double jeopardy model occurs in most markets where goods are substitutable.
According to a recent study conducted jointly by Vision Critical and Nine Rewards, the same double jeopardy appears to be true in social media in Australia. The study showed that not only does Facebook have more fans than sites like Twitter and Pinterest, but that those fans use it more often, use it for longer, and use it on more occasions during the day. This pattern, of the large brand having the more loyal users, and the superficially niche products, like Pinterest, being less loyal, fits Ehrenberg's double jeopardy description really well, and dispels the myth, so common from conference speakers, that the strength of Pinterest is its ultra-loyal users.
The study comprised 861 interviews from the Nine Rewards panel, weighted to match the Australian adult population. The data was collected on October 16 and 17. All of the interviews were conducted online.
Looking at "Real" Users
At Vision Critical we tend to ignore data that describes users simply as people with accounts, we are interested in people who actually use services, e.g. logging on, checking, reading, liking, uploading etc. We tend to ask people whether they have used a service in the last year, and in the last week. The key data is the number using in the last week, and the ratio between using in the last week and using in the last year. This year, week, and ratio information is shown in the table below.
In looking at the data, it is important to remember that just under 90% of Australian adults are online. The, approximately, 10% who are not online are not going to be using social media, so the first two columns could all be multiplied by 0.9 to get an approximate estimate for the Australian adult population.
The strength of Facebook jumps off the page; 80% of the online population claim to have used it in the last year (suggesting that just over two-thirds of the total adult population of Australia use Facebook). This strength is retained when looking at the last week with 74% of the sample saying they had used Facebook in the last week. This 74% is a whopping 93% of all Facebook users, i.e. nearly all Facebook users are using it every week.
In terms of YouTube, about three-quarters of the sample say they have used it in the last year, and three-quarters of these say they have used it in the last week.
Only 25% of the sample claim to have used Twitter in the last year, and this drops to 18% saying they have used it in the last week. With a fast moving service like Twitter, usage in the last week is almost the lowest credible level of usage (tweets are hard to access once they are more than a week old). So, Twitter is probably being used in a meaningful sense by about one-in-six adults. One-in-six is impressive, but it leaves five-in-six not being covered by Twitter - a number to keep in mind when using social media research via Twitter.
LinkedIn has nearly as many people saying they have used it in the last year as Twitter, but only just over half of these say they have used it in the last week. This is a great example of Ehrenberg's double jeopardy, the smaller brand is also being used less. It would be interesting to explore whether usage levels are related to satisfaction with current job or the state of the economy?
Pinterest is often referred to as the "new next big thing" or as something that is smaller than Facebook, but whose users are more passionate. However, the data suggest that only about one-in-ten of internet users have used it and, of those, fewer than 50% have used it in the last week. The phenomenon of a small brand with a smaller usage level is a good example of Ehrenberg's double jeopardy at work.
When do people access social media?
The chart below shows when, during the day, users of Facebook and Twitter say they access the services.
The time of day chart shows that Facebook and Twitter have very similar profiles, amongst their own users. However, at every point in the day Facebook appears stronger. For both services, the afternoon is a relative weak spot, and the evening is a relative strong point. However, the variation during the day is much less than the pattern for the other services researched, as the two charts below will illustrate.
Comparing LinkedIn users with Facebook users shows a very different pattern of usage between the two. LinkedIn has a relatively low score for most of the day, but peaks in during the morning - with about 50% of its users saying that is when they access it. Perhaps this usage relates to: people reaching work, dealing with email, having their morning tea and coffee, and generally getting on top of chores.
YouTube and Pinterest have very similar patterns of usage, although far more people in total are accessing YouTube. Both YouTube and Pinterest are weak in the morning, but relatively strong in the evening. However, at no stage of the day is the usage pattern of YouTube and Pinterest, amongst its users, appear to be as strong as Facebook's usage amongst its users.
This time of day analysis reminds marketers that it may be profitable to match their social media activities to times of day. Facebook and Twitter are good channels all day, but the evening is the strongest part of the day, LinkedIn is very mid-morning, and YouTube and Pinterest are heavily focused on the evenings.
The UK's MRS has launched a campaign based on the slogan "Evidence Matters," to help promote the case for research. In the area of social media there is often, IMHO, too much speculation and opinion and too little evidence. This study confirms the findings from many other fields, i.e. those strong brands and services have not only the largest number of users, but also the most loyal users. The concept of a niche brand or service with a small band of super-loyal users is much rarer than you might expect.
Nine Rewards, manages large online consumer panels with over 1.4 million permission-based members across Australia and 50k in New Zealand, with a unique recruitment source mainly through digital and offline channels across Nine Entertainment, Co. Through these panels, Nine Rewards delivers valuable data to help businesses make informed decisions.
For more information about Nine Rewards, please contact Lisa Salas at Nine Rewards on +61 2 9266 4023 or by email at email@example.com.