5 Graphs from Born Social That Show the Current State of Social Media

In the marketing world, everyone’s got an opinion.

On the one hand, having such a wealth of divergent thought is great. It keeps things fresh, interesting and pushes the need to constantly evolve.

On the other hand, it gets really confusing. How do you know what to believe, when you hear so many conflicting points of view?

This quandary was the fuel behind Born Social partaking in a rather interesting research project. Earlier this year, they asked 1000 people in the UK about how they really used social media. No assumptions and no marketing speak – just cold, hard, facts. The findings of which have challenged a heap of assumptions the industry had previously agreed upon.

The report spans across all areas of social media, dissecting their findings by platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest) and by age group (Screenagers – 11-22, Adopters – 23-34, Adapters – 35-49, and Silver Sharers – 50-75).

So what exactly did they find? Here are five social media graphs from the report that illustrate the current state of affairs.

1.Instagram is where people go to share.

Born Social asked everyone who completed the survey which platforms they had an account on, and perhaps more interestingly, how they used them. To do this, they asked them to rank their level of activity out of four different levels of engagement, as follows:

  • Active – they post content regularly.
  • Semi-active – they engage with content they see but rarely post themselves.
  • Passive – they log in but rarely engage with content.
  • Irregular – they have an account, but rarely log in.

social media graphs born social

Source: Born Social

Let’s look closely at Instagram. The survey found this was by far and away the most ‘active’ platform in the UK. It’s where the majority of people go to share their own content. It’s clear from the data that they feel much more comfortable sharing here than on other platforms like Facebook or Twitter.

Why is that? The release of Instagram Stories has definitely helped. Pre-Stories, Instagram had a problem – the bar for content was very high. It became known as the platform for beautiful content, which acted as a double-edged sword. This reputation gave it a USP, but it eventually stifled sharing.

Snapchat plugged this gap with their stories feature and stole every day sharing from Instagram’s grip. This was a huge problem for them.

Instagram’s challenge was to win back the everyday moment, which they did by copying Snapchat’ key feature. It’s worked – clearly – that’s obvious from the graph above. Instagram is now where people go to share.

2. Facebook is far from dead…

social media graphs born social

Source: Born Social

You’ll have no doubt often heard that Facebook is dead. That the kids are abandoning it. That it’s uncool.

This research dispelled these myths. As you can see from the graph above, almost everyone in the UK has an account on Facebook. Out of all the platforms they surveyed, Facebook dominated every other platform in terms of getting users to sign up.

This doesn’t tell the whole story, however…

3. Most Facebook users are lurkers.

The Facebook findings get even more interesting when it dug a little deeper and had a look at how these people actually use the platform:

social media graphs

Source: Born Social

As you can see, only a very small amount of users class themselves as ‘active’ or regularly sharing their own content to the platform. The size of this group increases as you move up the age ranges, as older people are more likely to share to Facebook. No real surprises so far.

The big revelation lies in the size of the irregular group – users who ‘rarely login’. You might expect that with such a small amount of people sharing their own content, the irregular group would be sizeable. Surely this would mean there was less reason to log in and use the platform?

In actual fact, the survey found exactly the opposite. Out of the people who are signed up to Facebook, just a fraction don’t login.

Although people don’t share on Facebook as much as they might have used to, they still use it very frequently. The majority of users are semi-active, meaning that they engage with posts on the feed but rarely post themselves, or passive, meaning that they use the platform but don’t engage with posts. The key thing here is that they are still logging in.

Why? It could be suggested the reason for this is that Facebook has developed enough ‘sticky’ features – like Messenger, Groups, and Events – that keep people logging in, even when they don’t see value from sharing themselves. Or maybe everyone just loves a good old stalk.

The key takeaway here? Treat any story about how Facebook is dying with absolute caution. It’s very much alive and thriving.

Check out Facebook for Beginners, for some top tips on how to build a strategy on Facebook.

4.Different generations share in very different ways.

social media graphs

Source: Born Social

Born also looked into how people actually share. If they see a piece of content that they want to share with their friends, how do they then go about it?

This was where you can see the most disparity between age groups.

Whilst young people prefer to share with a tag in the comments, older people favour a share to the profile.

This means that whilst young people are loyal to a relatively new and organic method of sharing – tagging a mate in the comments section of the content you want to share with them – older generations are clinging on to a good old-fashioned share to profile.

This has huge implications for marketers who need to track the success of their content. Don’t rely on the native ‘share’ button, as only older generations really use it in a big way. If your audience is made up of lots of young people, you’re not looking at the full picture if you’re not tracking the volume of tags in the comments.

5. Twitter struggles to give users a reason to log in

social media graphs


Twitter have had a very public struggle recently. With share prices declining and a slew of high-profile departures, so this is a really interesting one, seeing how it looks from a usage perspective.

The results were pretty stark, especially when you compare to the previously shown and discussed Facebook graph. The key thing to look at is the black area – the amount of irregular users, who don’t see enough value in the platform to log in regularly. It’s huge.

Contrast this with the orange area, showing ‘regular’ tweeters. Only 12% of the Twitter users we surveyed tweet regularly. This is a huge problem for Twitter.

Twitter is struggling at the moment as a platform – that much is clear. If you’re tight on internal resources, you should seriously think about whether it’s wise to invest resources into Twitter as a platform. You might be better placed doubling down on Facebook or Instagram.

So there we have it – a whistle-stop tour around the current state of social media in five graphs.

You can see the full The Social Survey report here.

Callum McCahon, Strategy Director at Born Social

Keep an eye out for our next blog where we’ll be discussing how to boost engagement on social media.