Research Results: Social Media Preferences

Social Media Cat

Recently, I thought it would be interesting to discover the social media preferences of our Facebook page followers at Social Media Marketing. The poll is here. I’ll leave it open for a while and invite you to contribute your thoughts. If you want to take the poll, stop reading now! Go and complete the poll first, then come back after so your answers will not be influenced by the results below.

But since most of the results are in, and I promised to share them, here are the highlights with a little analysis and suggestions for how to use them.

A few of the most popular answers:

83 percent

On social media, I like to see posts that:  Are informative: “How To” videos, current news events.


67 percentOn social media, I read posts that: Include pictures or video; ask my opinion or request a comment.


67 percent

I watch videos on Facebook more now that they play as I scroll.   No.


83 percentOn social media, I am likely to “Like”, comment, share or get involved with posts that: Coincide with my own opinion; provide information, news, tips or entertainment.

This was not a scientific poll, and there was a small sample size. However, there is room for reflection on what the answers mean to social media marketers and how they can engage their community of followers. But I’ll get to the analysis later. Let’s look at how people responded when asked some open-ended questions.

Revealing comments about social media:

The thing I like the most about social media is:

  • Instant updates on breaking news, sometimes directly from the source itself.
  • Feeling connected to my friends, family and acquaintances.
  • It’s a great way to stay connected to long-distance friends and family.
  • I read and learn/stay updated about different current issues.
  • Keeping in touch with people

The thing I like the least about social media is:

  • It’s a time-suck!
  • Negative comments or arguing.
  • Boring updates that tell you nothing important.
  • Some people go overboard with their posts and opinions.
  • Some people don’t like if you disagree with them and they can become combative.
  • Personal updates that I have no interest in.
  • Videos of animals doing allegedly entertaining things.

Most of the comments confirm what Chris Brogan and other social media gurus keep telling us:

People want valuable content when using social media.

In addition, current news has great value and people overwhelmingly want to keep in touch with their friends and family.

Pictures and videos are popular, of course. But what’s interesting, is that most people do not like the way Facebook now automatically plays a video as you scroll over it. And this didn’t increase their likelihood of watching those videos. So the results suggest that although videos are still a good idea, don’t expect this Facebook tweak to increase your views.

Sheila Gregory Social Media Marketing Twitter Header

When it comes to mobile versus desktop use, as you might expect, the majority of respondents proved they’re hip with the current trend. Two-thirds said they use their mobile device to view social media most of the time. If you are an experienced digital marketer, you’re already using social media to drive traffic to your website, so make sure you’ve optimized your site for mobile consumption. And don’t forget to test the view on a variety of devices! Seeing is believing when it comes to the digital experience.

Now, it was no surprise to find that most people like to read posts that reflect their own opinions, proving that we tend to fall prey to what U of T philosopher and author Joseph Heath calls “confirmation bias” in his award winning book, Enlightenment 2.0. This is the psychological phenomenon that influences us to pay more attention to ideas with which we agree. Then we tend to use them as evidence that our beliefs are correct, and ignore contrary ideas. Heath argues that no matter how rational you are, you can’t override this basic human characteristic in your day-to-day thoughts.

Clearly, people don’t want to engage in arguments, negative thoughts or boring posts. I don’t think we needed a poll to tell us that. But what it might suggest is that community managers might remove those types of comments unless they are doing something to increase their followers. Possibly less engagement is better than negative engagement.

What are the lessons for social media marketers?

  • If you want to increase engagement, you must know and understand your followers’ opinions and beliefs, then ensure your posts line up with them.
  • Post lots of visually interesting, informative and valuable content. No boring updates!
  • Monitor and incorporate breaking news stories so yours is the site of choice for keeping people informed.
  • You might increase engagement by finding ways to involve entire families, colleagues or groups of friends. Find ways to allow them to engage with one another on your site and you may be able to engage them yourself.

Research, such as this poll, is only the beginning when it comes to determining what makes people tick in social media spheres. We can only scrape the surface and then test, re-test and test again to shoot for the best results.

If you just started using any of these ideas to engage your followers on social media, please include a link to your site in the comments below and let us all know if they are increasing your likes, comments, video views or shares. We’d like to know that research really does help!

See the complete Facebook poll results.



Whats My Line: Community Manager?

Those of us who are interested in working in Social Media Marketing might go searching various keywords on job boards online, including Community Manager, Communication Coordinator or Social Media Professional.  However, I do not like these titles.  I would like to see a new term being used to described these members of the marketing team.

The whole point of Social Media networks is for the participants to create content, engage and get into the 2 way nature of the communication.  So do they want to be managed?  I doubt it.  I think most of us register on the various platforms because we want to have a conversation about something we are interested in and we want to find others who are interested in the same thing.  We want to share information or our thoughts or experiences.  Do we want some “Social Media Professional” poking their nose in and directing us to products or services they are trying to push?  I do not think so.

Now this “Community Manager” or whatever, may be quite welcome if he or she is solving problems, answering questions and providing valuable customer service on their sites in which case there may be an argument for calling them by that handle.

However, I rather like to think that the person who works for the organization is also a person who just likes to talk about what they like and share information from the point of view of  just another group member.  So my vote for the most common professional title to use would be “Community Participant” or “Social Media Participant”.  What do you think?  Do you have another title that fits?

Four Fellows I Follow

One of the best things I’ve done for myself since trying to become educated about Social Media Marketing is to follow the big names.  My attention has been drawn to many of the current gurus by browsing at the marketing section in Chapters and of course plain old web-browsing.  I’m highlighting four fellas in particular today because they have given me so much to think about while reading.  You may already know them but in case you don’t, here they are in no particular order:

1.  @chrisbrogan @broganmedia

   He’s probably the biggest Social Media Marketing rock star out there right now but I never heard of him six months ago so he’s a big deal to me.  He co-authored the book “Trust Agents” which is well worth the read.  I like Chris because he writes in a personal style and just seems like a super nice guy. That’s it!  Read his blog or pick up one of his books – you just can’t help but like this guy. He responds to tweets, returns comments and makes digital media marketing seem like a party that you just can’t wait to be invited to.  He hangs with Mitch Joel.  It looks like Chris’ blog post inspired Mitch’s post on how he blogs.    

2.  @Mitch Joel

  Mitch’s post Watching Me Blog is a current meme in which he invited other notable bloggers to describe how they do it including Jason Falls (my next main man listed below).  Mitch is a bit like Chris Brogan – very likeable.  His blog tends to have a lot of references so if you are doing research it can point you to many different places you may want to investigate.  So far I’ve read only select passages from his book “Six Pixels of Separation” but what I did read gave me great ideas and plans for future activity in the digital world.  I just started following him on Twitter.

3.  @Jason Falls

   Author of “No Shit Social Media“.  I really like Jason and follow him on Twitter too.  I liked him immediately while  watching a video posted in my Algonquin College Social Media course where he  interviewed Katie Paine and exposed the honest reality of Social Media’s ROI.  The conversation felt so authentic that it was like I was sitting right beside them and wished I could chime in and ask questions.  Now we can ask Jason questions:  recently I have found Jason’s online service Exploring Social Media created to answer your questions about the use of social media.  This is a paid service so I won’t be subscribing any time soon. I wish Jason would give us a trial period.  I imagine it to be a terrific service and would like to see it reviewed by my social media friends (yes that’s YOU – please  comment).  Jason was also infected with the Watching Me Blog Bug here  in his blog Social Media Explorer.  Oh yes, and I also like Jason’s cute accent!

4.  Pete Cashmore – @mashable

    Mashable is an absolute must read for anyone who wants to stay on top of current trends in social networks, digital media and technology.  I follow the founder of Mashable, Pete Cashmore, on Twitter but he doesn’t really tweet everything since there is a constant stream.  There is a staff at Mashable that does it for him, but the tweets consistently provide links to excellent content.  I have found so many popular sites and blogs this way that I am overwhelmed by the firehose nature of the feed.  I cannot take just a sip from this hose – it drowns me.  And I can’t turn the hose off because I don’t want to miss anything! Anyone know how to drownproof?

Does anyone else follow any of these four?  What do you like about them?  I have more digital media professionals I would like to highlight but please let me know if you want me to add someone to my list!