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Your annual social media checkup: Stats, insights and predictions on the current social landscape

Show and Tell on Dec 11, 2023

Phone with social icons (illustration)

Just like that bag of kale in your fridge that’s begging you to turn it into a salad, your social media strategy can go stale and rot. Use this article to catch up on the latest trends from the world of social media marketing. With it, your team will be informed and your content will be fresh.

Dig in, friends.

Canadians' preferred social media platforms

Let’s start with a breakdown of where Canadians are scrolling the most, according to a study conducted by DataReportal (sample: Monthly activity for Canadians ages 16-64).
  • 91.4% use YouTube

  • 73.4% use Facebook

  • 57% use Instagram 

  • 41.1% use TikTok

  • 39.5% use X (formerly known as Twitter)

  • 33.5% use Pinterest

  • 32.3% use LinkedIn

Of note: TikTok was the platform with the most growth –  the 41.1% of respondents who stated they use TikTok each month represents an increase of 27.6% compared to 2021. 

Out of the following platforms, the split between users who identified as male or female is relatively even: LinkedIn receives 52.5% male-identifying users, while Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and SnapChat receive more female-identifying users by small amounts. There are two outliers: X, with 64.1% of respondents identifying as male, and Pinterest, with 77.1% of respondents identifying as female. 

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Time spent on social media

From the same DataReportal study, on average, Canadians spend two hours and 5 minutes using social media daily. A rate that’s up by 10.6% since 2021 and likely to continue growing. The implications of this increase on your social media marketing efforts might be more significant than you think.  

Five years ago, reaching your audience on social media at a frequency of 7-10 times per week was high. In 2023, for a user that’s spending 14 hours on social media a week, that’s only one impression (at best, a few seconds paying attention to your ad) every couple of hours. 

Why Canadians are using social media

DataReportal also cites the top 3 reasons for using social media among Canadians in 2023:  
  1. “Keeping in touch with friends and family” 

  2. “Filling in spare time” 

  3. “Reading news stories” 

For marketers, the alarm bells should be ringing – filling in spare time is the second most common reason for using social media. While this might sound too high-level to make any major assumptions, it indicates something significant. 

Canadians are looking for something to do when they use social media; they’re looking to fill in their free time. If nearly 40% of respondents cited “filling in spare time” as a main reason for using social media, there is more opportunity than ever for your brand to reach and capture the attention of social media users. Users looking to fill their free time might be more receptive to watching an educational video, completing a survey, or reading a short informative article.

In the same survey, 23.7% of respondents cited “finding inspiration for things to do and buy” as another main reason for using social media, outranking “posting about your life” by 3.6%. While this is only a small difference in comparison, it’s consistent with another overarching trend – it’s becoming more common to use social media as a search engine. There’s an emerging market for social search volume and the businesses that figure out how to optimize their content for search have an opportunity to grab huge market share on this trend. 

How Canadians are interacting with brands on social media

While only 16.5% of respondents in the DataReportal study previously cited selected “seeing content from brands” as a main reason for using social media, understanding how your audience interacts with your brand on various social platforms is integral to developing a social strategy.

The hard-to-hear truth: people don’t want to interact with a brand and its products on social media. They want to be entertained, keep up with relationships, and educate themselves. For a brand to be able to tap into the more common uses for social media, they need to be able to engage with their audience on a deeper level, rather than just post about their products or their services. 

Reasons Canadians unfollow or unsubscribe from an account

It might seem easy enough to increase your social media following with a few effectively targeted paid campaigns, right? Remember: to keep your audience engaged, your content needs to go beyond brand and product promotion. 

According to the Digital Canada 2023 report from Ressac and Leger, 60% of Canadian Internet users who follow a brand or company say they will unsubscribe from an account if the content is uninteresting (useless, boring, etc.), 50% will unsubscribe if a brand’s values don’t align with their own. Another notable stat – 50% of Canadians unfollow brand accounts after the announcement of a contest winner. 

While respondents indicated that they would unfollow a brand or company account, more often than not the platform algorithm does the job for them before they get a chance to click “unfollow”. If your audience is not interacting with your content, the algorithm will reduce the frequency that your content is served to them, eventually fading your content off their feed altogether.

This effectively means that even though you earned a subscriber or follower, they won’t see your content anymore. That’s why it’s more important than ever not just to publish relevant content. You need to publish magnetic content – content that the audience immediately gravitates towards and engages with.   

While experiencing “algorithmic unfollows” is inevitable and natural – your brand is never going to appeal to everyone, and that’s a good thing – you can still prevent losing those who fit your ideal target customer with a creative and intentional content strategy that fits into a well-rounded digital approach.  

Making your brand visible on social media

A common mistake that brands make in their social media strategy is only focusing on how they can reach their audience, and not considering how their audience might find them. It’s easy to focus solely on paid campaigns, content calendars and tactics like influencer marketing and forget about how your content is showing up when users are searching for something specific on Instagram or LinkedIn.

Recalling the previously mentioned study from DataReportal – 23.7% of respondents selected “finding inspiration for things to do and buy” as a main reason for using social media.

If we simplify the buying journey into three high-level stages, 2023 statistics tell us that Canadians are spending a lot of time online throughout the entire journey, and social media is influencing the way people find brands in multiple stages of the journey.

Brand discovery: the mysteries of ‘dark social’

Per DataReportal, 9 out of 15 of the most popular places people discover new brands was online. Search engines ranked as number one, followed by word-of-mouth and online retail websites. We know: word-of-mouth is not technically a digital source. But where do you think people hear about the brands they tell their friends or family about? Depending on their age, it’s likely online. 

This theory has been conceptualized in the business-to-business (B2B) world as “Dark Social.” Dark social refers to the web traffic that comes from popular channels, such as LinkedIn, when it’s difficult to track.

B2B buyers are highly active on LinkedIn, and often share content amongst themselves. For example, a marketing director might consistently see posts from a digital marketing thought leader on LinkedIn. Then they start seeing paid ads for the company the thought leader works at. Over the course of several months, the marketing director and upper leadership decide to purchase from this company. 

Their behaviour on the company website is not directly attributable to the organic posts from the thought leader or paid ads that they never actually clicked. But this content is what caused them to consider purchasing in the first place.

The dark social theory serves as a good reminder for businesses to think about how they’re being found on social media.  

Brand research: how (else) users are finding brands

Once someone discovers your brand, where do they go to research it? According to DataReportal, the top three answers for Canadians in 2023 are search engines, product or brand sites, and social networks.

For a well-rounded digital presence that engages and converts customers, your strategy should combine the following: 

  • Search engine optimization

  • Search engine marketing (i.e. Google Ads)

  • Website UX (user experience)

  • Social media (organic and paid, plus social search)

  • Retargeting in the right places as a means of increasing conversion rate

Audience demographics such as age can have a strong influence on which of these categories marketers prioritize most. If your brand stays reachable using the aforementioned tactics, you’re increasing your chances of picking up new followers and in turn, customers.

The purchase decision: how Canadians are buying online

The DataReportal survey asked Canadians whether they visit websites to research products and buy them in store, visit a store to browse products and buy them online, or buy a product online and pick it up in store. 

  • 45% of respondents indicated that they prefer to “visit websites to research or compare products but visit a physical store to purchase.”

  • 17% of respondents indicated that they prefer to “visit a store first to browse but make the purchase online.” 

  • 16% of respondents indicated that they prefer to “purchase online and pick it up in-store.”  

What’s the important takeaway? The last touchpoint before making a purchase decision for many customers is online, and their experience matters. They could have been interacting with your brand on various online platforms and channels for months prior to making a purchase decision. This is more likely if your product or offering requires a larger financial commitment. 

What this all means for your brand

Look, there’s a lot to unpack here. And that's precisely the point. Marketers need a full understanding of what’s going on in the social media world so you can take this information and use it to succeed. 

One thing to really take away though is that every digital touchpoint matters. Not every digital interaction will convert a sale, book a meeting or land a lead. But every time your brand is seen online is an opportunity for connection with your audience.

Most of the time, all your business needs to do is provide value – real value that addresses a pain point or solves a problem. As your audience interacts with your content (which indicates that value), the platform algorithms will put more of your content in front of them. When the time to convert happens, most of the heavy lifting will already be done.

Now that you have the stats to support your strategy, you can fine-tune for weeks. That is until we release a suite of entirely new stats for you to digest. But hey– that’s just the non-stop world of social media – it’s ever changing, and marketers need to be, too.

If you’re looking for an expert’s opinion (or perhaps a shoulder to cry on), we’d love to talk more about your social media marketing needs.