By Brian Leigh
"Big data" is a complicated buzz-term. The way it's tossed around, it sounds like something out of 1984, as if the data is arresting us of thoughtcrime. But in reality—and especially with regard to content marketing agencies—it's something far less intimidating.
All "big data" means is statistics.
Some of those statistics are valuable, and sometimes the people who gather them charge fees. But sometimes, if you're willing to do the research, even public and obvious data tells meaningful stories, shedding light on trends, on platforms, and in audiences.
Here is one example for four major social media networks.
The Stat: In four years, mobile ad revenue has grown 2,400 percent.
In 2012, Facebook generated $4.3 billion of ad revenue, 11 percent of which came from mobile. In 2015, it generated $17.1 billion of ad revenue, 77 percent of which came from mobile. As the total quadrupled, the percentage septupled, which resulted in something amazing:
Mobile is Facebook's present and future. The network has developed into the foremost tool for digital marketers, and mobile is the biggest reason why.
Consider this with regard to Facebook Canvas, the mobile-only ad platform launched earlier this year. It's a novel, immersive, profitable feature tailored specifically and exclusively to mobile. Embrace this direction and expect more mobile focus in the future.
The Stat: Instagram has 58x more engagement per follower than Facebook.
Instagram is the quote "engagement" platform, and that nickname is reinforced by data. It's a place users come to interact with, rather than scroll past, content. At a time when social marketing has been branded "pay to play," it's a place where having followers really counts.
What does this say about Instagram's audience? Mostly, that it's built with passionate fans. Its users know exactly what they're looking for and follow accounts that serve it.
Because of this, it's a great place to tap into audiences. If your brand fits a specific niche or genre, that's where you want to build a loyal following.
Even in a "pay to play" era, that still matters.
The Stat: 70% of Twitter users only/mostly watch videos they discover.
This number might not smack you in the face, but it rings true the more you think on it, and especially as you contrast it with other networks.
YouTube, for example, is a place where users search for video. They arrive with their destinations in mind. But Twitter users are looking for discovery. They arrive and let the timeline guide their journeys.
This mindset makes Twitter a rare bird for marketers: a safe space where branded content isn't shooed. According to the survey producing this data, 37 percent of users actually want to see more videos from brands.
Instagram and Facebook are spaces where users come to interact with friends. Brands are asked to blend in and act native or get out. But Twitter is less hostile when accounts with ulterior motives serve content.
All that matters is whether the content is interesting.
The Stat: 72% of Americans ages 12-24 years old use Snapchat.
This stat is fairly meaningful in a vacuum but even more meaningful with context. Snapchat is more popular with young people than Twitter (36 percent), Instagram (66 percent), and even Facebook (68 percent).
It should be noted that the study producing this data, conducted in early 2016 by The Infinite Dial, surveyed just over 2,000 people. That's far from an ideal sample. But the same source has Snapchat at 23 percent in total usage, and the sample is still large enough to mean something.
Snapchat has the young vote. It's the Bernie Sanders of social networks. You might not feel the Bern, but you'd be wise to feel the snap streak flame emoji.
Any stats we missed? Share your thoughts with the Likeable Media team below.