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A few weeks ago I was speaking at an insurance industry event and was asked what the 2016 social media arena was going to look like.  In order to know what to anticipate for 2016 we need to take a look at what the make up was for 2014 and 2015.  First let’s start with 2014.

  • 4 out of 10 users would go through their mobile device to get into the social media world.
  • One of the fastest growing social networks was PinterestVisual content entered the social scene
  • Facebook remained the number one social site.
  • Organic reach was very poor
  • YouTube was accessed by 85% of all online users each month.

WOW! That’s a ton of movement in the social world. We are now half way through 2015, and looking forward to the changes that 2016 may bring.

Well, I’ve heard at several industry events that Facebook is dead or on its last leg.  But the numbers for 2015 say that the largest increase of people are in the age group of 65 and up.  Active users in the 35-44 age group is over 29 million, in the 45-54 age group is over 26 million, and in the 25-34 age group is over 35 million.  So as you can see, Facebook is NOT dead!  Not even close. If you really study the numbers, it shows us agency owners that more Facebook users are in our wheelhouse because the age of the average visitor has increased and those are the people we want to write insurance on. This means that you need to keep Facebook in your marketing strategy because it really affects your agency’s ROI.

Twitter and Pinterest also continue to grow in the age areas that we agency owners want.

The most interesting numbers come from Instagram. Instagram stays young and will add another 11.4 million users in 2015 under the age of 17.  This will keep the overall number of users under the age of 20 at 67%. But your agency should still make Instagram a part of their marketing strategy!!   What about next year? My prediction is that 2016 will be the year of Instagram and Pinterest and the social world will continue to see the dominance of visual content marketing

Social Network Demographics: 
Embedded in these stats I just shared with you is some very valuable information. If you’re not a data-person, we’ve got a few observations of our own for you to chew on. Below, you’ll find my personal opinion on what two takeaways you should have from these stats. Agree or Disagree?  Did you interpret the data a different way? I want to hear from you and how you’re looking at the upcoming year.

  1. Facebook grows and shrinks at opposite ends of the demographic spectrum. Yes, Facebook is getting older and that’s a great thing for our agencies and our ROI opportunities. In 2016, Facebook will experience the largest percentage share increase in the 65+ demographic. During that same period, eMarketer data suggests that users in the 18-24 demographic share will decrease slightly..

What does all this mean?
This trend has already been going on for the past few years, as younger social media users migrate to mobile (smart-phones, tablets etc.) platforms and networks that don’t have an older crowd (i.e. Grandparents and parents). For more great information I would recommend that you read this article:  Will a demographic shift on Facebook lead to the network’s decline? What’s your opinion about where Facebook is going? My personal opinion is Facebook is FAR from going away, there are way to many Facebook addicts. Yes, it is changing but it will be here for a long time to come.

What and how Facebook has changed our culture

Facebook is the “gateway drug” that has brought an older generation into regular social media use: sharing, freely giving personal information,  connecting with old friends, making new friends, connecting with brands big and Small. It allows small business brands to compete against the big bosses. With the breakdown in privacy barriers nearly complete, Facebook (read: “its advertisers”) is ready to step in for the kill. In 2015/2016, expect advertisers to wage highly targeted, post-demographic campaigns. The kind of information that’s going to tell you that you’re going to have a child before you even know! Yes that’s scary but that’s where it’s going, whether you like it or not.  I’m not sitting here telling you that I like it but it’s just the way it is.

Instagram advertising is going to roll out… soon! What does this mean for the social world? When you look at the numbers within the Instagram world you see there is incredible growth and you will continue to see growth in that social arena. Instagram was growing so fast that Facebook didn’t want to compete against them so they bought them. With that said, you knew it was only a matter of time before advertising options were going to be available on the Instagram platform. Instagram is projected to have 60.3 million U.S. users by year end of 2015. Yes that is only in the U.S alone!

What this means to you and your agency?
Of course, advertising has already been around for a few months on Instagram, but it’s only been made available to a select few brand partners. By the later half of 2015, I’m expecting we’ll see geo-targeted/local advertising options made available to more small- and medium-sized businesses and agencies. For Instagram, the challenge will be ensuring that the high standards their social media users expect are met.  I’ve come to never underestimate the man in charge at Facebook. Like him or not, he has changed the world!

Tell me what you think about all of this. Do you agree with my predictions? What social network demographics jump out at you? What does your insurance agency’s marketing team think? I am concerned for anyone in our industry that is not thinking about the social world. It is social media that allows us smaller independent insurance agencies to compete against The Lizard and Flo. So Happy Social Marketing!