If you want to learn how Canadians are communicating and interacting online, look no further than social networking sites. According to Ipsos’ most recent Canadian Interactive Reid Report special feature on Social Networking, one-half of all Canadians (50%) and the majority of online Canadians (60%) now have a social networking profile.
Social networking is no longer the exclusive domain of youth, either. While younger online Canadians aged 18 to 34 years (86%) are the most likely to have a social networking profile, other age groups are not getting left behind, as a majority (62%) of those aged 35 to 54 now have profiles and a good portion (43%) of those 55 years and older have one too.
While the number of Canadians with a social networking profile has only increased by 4 percentage points in the last two years, what is more significant is the dramatic increase in the frequency in which they are using social networks. Nearly one-half of online Canadians (45%) are now visiting a social networking site at least once a week, and 30% visit daily, which compares to 35% who were visiting weekly, and 19% who were visiting daily this time last year. Momentum continues to grow as well, as 32% of those who have an online profile admit they are using it more than last year vs. 15% who say they are using it less (53% say their usage is the same).
Females have really taken to social networking as females tend to visit social networking sites more frequently than their male counterparts. Online Canadian women are much more likely to visit a social networking site at least once a day than men (37% compared to 24% of men).
“There have been some suggestions in the media recently that social networking is leveling off in industrialized countries,” says Steve Mossop, President of Ipsos Reid’s Western Canada practice. “While the number of Canadians accessing online social networks may be peaking, the engagement in this platform has not diminished. In fact we continue to see dramatic increases in usage.”
In Canada, Facebook remains the dominant player in social networking. The vast majority (86%) of Canadian social networkers has a social networking profile with Facebook, a proportion that has remained relatively unchanged since 2009 (85%). But Facebook’s dominance may be challenged from the significant growth of both Twitter and LinkedIn over the past year. During that same period, the number of Canadians with a profile on Twitter has grown exponentially from almost none (<1%) in 2009 to 10% last year, and 19% today. The proportion with a profile on the professional social networking site LinkedIn has more than doubled during the same period from 6% in 2009 to 14% today.
Also significant is the finding that nearly half (48%) of Canadians with social networking profiles ‘like’ or ‘follow’ at least one brand or company through their social networking site. And of those who follow at least one brand, the number of brands followed averages 6.7.
“A new era has dawned in the social networking space,” Mossop continues. “The first five years was about building awareness and usage around socializing, and consumers responded positively. The next five years will be about commercialization of social networking. Companies who understand, and enter this space will gain a whole new way of interacting with and engaging their customers.”