UK Social Media Statistics for 2015

The turkey’s eaten and the tinsel’s down (although we’ll be eating chocolate until June), so it must be time for our annual roundup of UK specific Social Media Statistics. Which sites are doing what as we head into 2015? Who’s winning, who’s losing, who’s just generally losing it?!

UK Social Media in 2015

In general, what we’re seeing from many organisations is much less in the way of dismissive “social media is trivial” stuff and a more positive view of whether it’s relevant for professional businesses. This is good news for both us and them! Even better, we get more enquiries where people are really starting to question *how* social media fits in to what they do.

Now, the numbers. As in previous years, we’ve  tried to ferret out the best data we can find for you on user numbers, trends, and demographics for social media in the UK.

And as in previous years, it’s been an absolute *&!^ing headache. Only more so. As the social media industry grows, ironically it gets harder and harder to find convincing, properly credited data for what’s actually going on with the usage of the various sites.

The sites themselves are absolutely shocking at releasing any kind of detail (at least, to the general public); if things are going well, we might just get a “X million user milestone globally” headline. Which is not a lot of help to anyone outside the US, as the US makes up such a dominant portion of the user base.

Sites which used to provide reasonably regular and reliable data, such as Comscore and Socialbakers, have either not updated their content for years, or are increasingly monetising it so that it’s only available to paying subscribers. Which is understandable, but again not much help to general marketers. In fact, it’s been so difficult to find ANY detailed data that we were tempted to end this post here, with an appeal to Twitter, Pinterest et al to get some analysis done and share it with us poor marketers!

So for what it’s worth, here are the few bits and pieces we have managed to put together, together with a little commentary on wider trends / changes affecting social media use for businesses in the UK this year.

Sources are noted at the end of the article.

UK Facebook Statistics 2015

Facebook is the one site where we’re pretty confident of the reason we’re not seeing much user data: very likely because there aren’t any stellar growth figures to announce. Where figures are being shared, they are there or thereabouts the same as last year; somewhere between 30 and 33 million.   Statista.com gives a figure of just over 30 million for the middle of last year.

A 2014 Ofcom report notes that Facebook remains the default social networking site for almost all UK adults who are online – 96%.

Some types of organisation who were initially a little slow off the mark, though, are now thriving on Facebook. The most obvious example of this is football clubs; Manchester United and Chelsea are now right at the top of the biggest fan page league for the UK, reflecting the huge leaps they’ve made in feeding their fans’ hunger for behind the scenes information.

From a business marketing point of view, the big change during 2014 wasn’t anything to do with user numbers or types, though: it was the ongoing changes to the News Feed Algorithm, which have made building a genuinely interested, qualified audience from Day 1 absolutely vital. Any organisation using Facebook should now be expecting to spend cold hard cash on it as a communications channel, and if that audience was poorly targeted, they might as well be chucking the £ notes straight down the dunny.

UK Pinterest Statistics 2014

We’re REALLY disappointed with Pinterest for not getting any numbers out there last year, particularly because it the last batch of data (mid 2013) was showing around 2 million for the UK, a real explosion on the previous data set. We have a ton of anecdotal evidence, and some data from our own clients, suggesting that the user base has grown significantly again since then…but we can’t prove it.

We know that the user base is disproportionately female (over 70%), uniquely among the big social media sites. We also know that Pinterest is a strong driver for conversion traffic (users who are likely to buy when they click through to your website) and that those conversions tend to be of higher value than for other social sites.

Meanwhile, a ton of new and useful features have arrived, including Analytics for business users,  and Pinterest’s advertising offering, Promoted Pins. For any brand with a strongly female purchasing base, and good visual content, Pinterest remains a great place to be. We just wish they’d tell us HOW great.

UK Twitter Statistics 2015

For a minute here we thought we had some better news on the data front here. An emarketer report has some (slightly dated) hard numbers, plus forecasts which would bring us up to date.

But. They are predicting  one quarter of UK internet users on Twitter by the start of 2015. ONS data tells us that there were 38 million adults online in the middle of 2014, so that would give us a figure in the region of …9.5 million. Which is significantly less than Twitter’s own figures given at the end of 2013, which stated 15 million UK users. *Sigh*.

There is, though, at least a bit of a breakdown on who those users are. And here it is!

 

UK LinkedIn Statistics 2015

OK so we’re not always huge fans of LinkedIn, but on user data they get to go straight to the top of the class. Thankyou, LinkedIn.

Right where you’d expect it (on the company blog), there’s a lovely update telling us not just that the 15 million user mark was passed in 2014, but also some interesting nuggets about who those users are, which sectors are most strongly represented, and even which of the UK regions they come from.

As they’ve already put it into a pretty infographic, we’re just going to send you straight there. Here it is: who are the UK’s 15 million LinkedIn Users.

UK Instagram Users 2015

The big news for Instagram this year is that the site overtook Twitter in terms of global users – 300 million on Instagram, as against around 280 million for Twitter. So d’you think they’d like to share with us how many of those users are in the UK? You guessed it….no.

What else do we know? Well, that 90% of users are under 35, and again a high proportion are female. They’re also more likely to live in urban areas than rural ones.

Obviously that global number is a big deal, and a huge achievement for Instagram. It’s also a bit of a challenge for businesses, many of whom are now wondering whether they should prioritise Instagram over Twitter. The short answer to that is “probably not”, and the longer answer can be found here .

Sources used for this post include:

BusinessInsider.com

Socialbakers.com

IBtimes.com

Statista.com

Emarketer.com

Why IPad giveaways on Facebook are a bad idea

All these people would like an ipad. Does that make them potential customers?

 

Last week, I was sitting in a traffic jam on one of London’s major roads. To my left is a huge development under way, several high rise blocks being clad in shiny glass and steel.

And around the outside of the site hoardings, a bright banner advertising off plan sales of the new apartments, and inviting me to “follow {the developer} on Facebook to win an IPad!”.

That developer isn’t alone, by any means; most weeks I notice more than one advert offering a similar “bribe”, in magazines, window posters, or even on Facebook or Twitter.

Those companies are not just using their Facebook Competition in a really lazy, poorly thought out way, but they’re actively making trouble and expense for themselves further down the line. Here’s why.

What’s the point of a Facebook Giveaway?

Back to basics, why does anyone give stuff away on Facebook? Unless they’ve woken up one morning blocked into their house by a mountain of unwanted IPads, it’s because they want to attract people to Like their Facebook page.

But that’s where it starts to go wrong. In fact, MOST companies don’t really want “people” to Like their Facebook page; they want potential customers to Like their Facebook page.

How big the gap is between “people” and “potential customers” does depend to an extent on what your product or service is. If you’re selling multi million pound yachts (or expensive flats in London), it’s pretty big. If you’re selling crisps, it’s smaller – although some people may not particularly like crisps, yours might be so great that they do like them, and at least it’s fair to say that most people have a use for them (eating) and can afford them.

Most companies though, aren’t making FMCG products.

So what those companies are actually doing, every time they have some kind of generic giveaway, is building a big audience of people who like IPads. Great if you’re Apple, less so if you’re building apartments.

And as building that audience is just step one of the process, they then have a hard time keeping that audience engaged; after a few posts about yachts or flats, the “Un-Like” statistics will start going in entirely the wrong direction.

And then the bills start

But as I said at the beginning, there’s even worse news if you’ve built an audience that way. A year or two back, you’d have just wasted the money you spent on that IPad, and probably seen your hard earned audience dwindle over time. Since the Facebook News Feed algorithm changes though, it’s actually going to cost you money to get your posts in front of all those people who are never going to buy your product.

We know that “organic” (free, to you and I) reach has been decimated since the end of last year, so paying Facebook, at least some of the time, to get your Posts out there, is a necessary evil. That’s one thing if you know that your audience is a relevant and receptive one. As soon as you run a “generic” giveaway, you’re building up a mix of “people” and “potential customers” – and there’s no way to separate those once you have to start paying to reach them.

How to improve your Facebook giveways by 100%

To avoid this, businesses need to be a LOT more strategic in their choice of giveaway. In fact, the best possible giveaway item is one that will appeal to the FEWEST people -  but those people who absolutely love your product or service.

This isn’t as hard as it sounds. Going back to my developer, they could have offered the same value as the IPad, but in free conveyancing on your flat purchase. Completely useless to anyone not considering buying one of those flats, but very valuable to anyone who is.

Giving away your own product, or something very closely related to it (like the conveyancing) is usually the best place to start with a giveaway – not only does it guarantee that the Likers are keen on what you do, it’s also likely to have a lower direct cost to you than buying someone else’s product! It’s also a good idea to think about the things you can provide that money can’t usually buy. For example, rather than just giving away tickets to your event or show, provide some VIP privileges along with them.

So, start thinking smarter about what you can offer that will attract your die hard fans. It’ll make the world of difference.

The ONE thing that you must do on Facebook as a local business

There’s a really helpful research piece recently released by US Agency GO Digital, looking at a number of aspects of increasing sales through Facebook – we’ve put a link in at the bottom of this post and recommend that everyone running a local business (restaurant, shop, hotel etc) take a look through it.

But there’s one finding that REALLY stood out for us. The number one thing that potential customers want from you on Facebook, in order to help them decide to buy. It’s not zany, amazing content. It’s not having a huge army of Likers.

What’s the most important thing about a Facebook Page for your customers?

It’s customer reviews.

Why? Before a customer has experienced what you offer, they don’t really trust you. They’d quite like to believe what you’re telling them about your amazingly comfortable rooms or your incredible cocktails, but, well, you would say that, wouldn’t you.

They need to hear it from others who don’t have anything to gain or lose from their buying decision.

When you think about it, this makes perfect sense. Consumers are constantly looking to increase the amount of information they have access to before they make a decision, even a relatively small one like where to eat out at the weekend.

They can get your opening times from your website (we hope!). They might find your insights into the business helpful, and they’d certainly love a special offer or two. But the one thing they really want to know is, am I going to like this. And often the only way to predict that is to see who else likes it, too.

Get those comments rolling in

So every Page in the Local Business category automatically gets a Reviews box, whether they like it or not (and plenty don’t). Unless you’re doing a terrible job at what you do and manage to really upset a customer, though, it’s unlikely to get a huge amount of use. You need to encourage customers to use it.

There are lots of ways of doing that, but they mainly fall into two categories: incentives, and opportunism.

Incentives are easy: you offer a small gift, preferably one which is more valuable to the customer than it is costly to you, in return for them reviewing you. So for a restaurant, you might offer a free glass of wine on their next visit. A hotel could offer a room upgrade if there’s availability, to their most active reviewers. And so on.

Opportunism requires a little more thought, and is all about timing:  giving the customer something to do in “dead” time.  The last thing you want to do is rely on a customer remembering to go to your Facebook page and give a review once they’ve finished interacting with you; unless their experience is extraordinarily, life changingly good or bad they are generally going to forget about you as they walk out the door, or at least by the time they get home.

Most people these days will have a smart phone on them, most of the time. So, if you’re a restaurant, why not give them a small card with a QR code leading to your Facebook page, and a request to review their experience, while they are waiting for the bill? Likewise in a hotel reception, have a big banner next to where people queue for checkout, or put cards on the nightstands. This alone should lead to a big increase in reviews, and coupled with an incentive will skyrocket them!

So, there’s how to make sure that any potential customer visiting your Page has access to exactly what they want in order to make a buying decision. The rest of the research is below, and there are plenty more gems in there too!

How to fail majestically at providing customer service on Twitter, courtesy of EasyJet

I just got back from a trip to the South of France, and very lovely it was too, after the first 24 hours.

The trip there, though, was pretty much as bad as it gets. Thanks to my friends at Easyjet, with a little help from some bad weather, what should have been a quick 80-minute flight was turned into an almost 12 hour odyssey of discomfort and frustration. At the end of which I helped a number of elderly people unload their cases from a coach, get to their hire cars and find beds for the night, while thinking about how very distressed my own parents would have been in that situation.

But by way of compensation (and it looks very much as though this is all we’ll get!), in the couple of days that followed, EasyJet very kindly helped me to write a masterclass on how not to use social media for customer service. I don’t know why any of the below still shocks me, but it does. In 2014 and with all the technology available to a big company, there is just no excuse.

Don’t travel if you’re not fit enough to withstand a 12 hour journey and sleep on a pavement at the end of it

So the trip started with just the routine nonsense – first a 20-minute delay, then 40 minutes, then we’re all rushed to the gate but end up sitting on the runway for another half an hour due to missed takeoff slot. Ridiculous excuse of “sorry folks we’re having a busy day here” (er, what? Did some unexpected flights appear on your schedule, or…?!) is par for the course. Eventually we get under way, but just as we head in to land, the pilot aborts at the last moment due to heavy cloud covering the runway at 200ft. Fair enough, it’s a safety issue – albeit one that is short lived in the south of France in summer, and certainly wouldn’t have been an issue at 4.30pm when the flight should have landed.

So that’s where the fun really started. Eventually we land at an airport some 350km away from our original destination. Which we are eventually shipped back to, very slowly, on a bus. I’ll leave you to imagine the level of information and assistance that was provided at each stage. The crowning glory was dumping the entire group, including some quite distressed elderly people and two people in wheelchairs, on the pavement outside a now completely closed airport at almost 2am. From where it’s a bit tricky for anyone to get to their hire car (shut) or bed for the night (many had private rentals booked, who don’t exactly have 24hr reception).

With the level of customer care already established, the coach driver even felt quite comfortable employing the world’s largest Gallic Shrug in the face of a lot of panic, and leaving everyone to unload their own cases – a nice extra touch.

So, can social media save the day?

But, I’ve had some fantastic responses from other organisations over Twitter when things have gone wrong, so I thought i’d try out the “all the best customer service staff get allocated to Twitter” theory. Which EasyJet proceeded to blow out of the water – although to be fair, it may turn out that this is stellar compared with the responses over other channels, who knows.

So here it is: the guide to using social media to ensure your aggrieved customer will never, ever buy from you again. With grateful thanks to EasyJet for the illustrative tweets.

EasyJet Customer Service

EasyJet Customer Service

EasyJet Customer Service

Masterclass point 1: On no account try to make it easier for your customer to correspond with you – YOU make the rules here, dammit, and they need to work to them.

EasyJet Customer Service

EasyJet Customer Service

Masterclass point 2: by the time you’ve made the customer jump through hoops, ensure you’ve totally forgotten what the conversation was about.

EasyJet Customer Service

EasyJet Customer Service

Masterclass Point 3: a double whammy. Point A: On no account empower your staff to take ownership of a situation. Point B: invoke infuriating platitudes at the first possible opportunity. **

EasyJet Customer Service

EasyJet Customer Service

Masterclass point 4: If in doubt, fall back on whatever corporatespeak is standard for your industry. In this case, blame everything on “safety” or “data protection” (see below).

EasyJet Customer Service

EasyJet Customer Service

Masterclass point 5: ON NO ACCOUNT use a social CRM or make any other attempt to keep track of the conversation. That should make it easier to “misunderstand” what you’re being told.

Extra points if you can get in a misguided and unnecessary (so i’m told by a qualified expert on the legislation) reference to Data Protection.

EasyJet Customer Service

Masterclass point 6: Congratulations! You’ve reduced your pesky customer to banging their head on a wall in frustration. Having proved you’re utterly useless, the customer will go away and not bother you again. Or ever use your products and services, but never mind!

** You may be amused (or not) to hear that the Customer Satisfaction Manager’s response was to send me an email reiterating that EasyJet are sorry, (but, my inference, not sorry enough to compensate us or improve the way they handle these situations). But they hope that we’ll travel again with them very soon.

What have we learned?

You just have to ask, what is the POINT of all of this? Why bother having a Twitter account if the people using it don’t know how to follow a conversation on Twitter, and have no authority to take action of any kind?

I wish I could answer that, but I can’t – except to say once again that if your company culture and customer service is poor, do not touch social media with a barge pole.  Expectations are higher on social media, and people expect to be treated thoughtfully and as individuals, not fobbed off with corporate rubbish. If that isn’t possible for whatever reason, you’re going to fail horribly.