In 2017, it’s no secret social media has taken over our lives — and the infographic below reveals just where we’re spending all that time. As a brand, though, what do you do with information about where your audiences are living their digital lives?

Active Social Media Users 2017

Active Social Media Users 2017 

In this blog post, we cover why these numbers are important, what that means for your business, and how to use these trends to engage your audiences.

1. Facebook is the Undisputed King – With a Caveat

With 1.18 billion daily active users, Facebook is the undisputed king — nearly everyone you know has a Facebook profile these days (even grandma). A recent survey by Fluent found that 41% of millennials use Facebook everyday, while 49% of non-millennial respondents use the platform every day. That difference may seem small, but the trend that’s been developing is that older you are, the more Facebook is your preferred network of choice.

In fact, break up millennials further into three age groups — 18-24, 25-29, and 30-34 — and you can see the disparity even among that demographic: 48% of older millennials use Facebook every day compared with 36% of the youngest age bracket.

Compare that to the other big social networks: among 18-24 year-olds, 36% are daily YouTube users, 34% daily Instagram users, and 30% are daily Snapchat users — in contrast to 33%, 24%, and 26% of 30-34 year-olds, respectively.

Okay, so what does that mean? Well for one, we could be seeing a shift of younger users away from Facebook to other platforms as more options emerge. Lines continue to blur between work relationships and Facebook relationships as well; befriending bosses, as well as mom and dad, on Facebook may be leading younger millennials to other, less restrictive platforms like Snapchat.

Then again, this age group could have been more turned off than others by Facebook’s controversies over the past year — from fake news to censorship to an iffy Marketplace launch.

It’s still the king — but 2017 will be an interesting year to watch these developments and how they either change or grow over time.


2. Snapchat, Insta Stories, and the appeal of disappearing media to younger millennials

Snapchat’s rapid rise can be attributed to its novel, fun, and interactive features — like the use of augmented reality to superimpose floppy puppy ears and nose on your face — and the idea of quick, visual communication that didn’t also leave a permanent mark on the internet, an appealing idea to the generation that’s used to having everything they do Google-able.

2016 saw the other social networks quickly trying to catch up to. Facebook confirmed they were testing mobile facial lenses last year, while Instagram launched Stories — content that disappears within 24 hours — in 2016.

Within two months of Instagram’s Stories release, TechCrunch reported that the feature had 100 million active users — additionally, Stories are watched by 18% of the platform’s 600 million users every day. And with 75% of millennials interested in virtual/augmented reality, this trend won’t be slowing down

Platforms like these showcase the power of engaging and interactive content, and represent an opportunity for brands to share real experiences with their audiences versus ads or information.


3. Video, Live Video and Lens Fitters

In the same vein, video is only going to continue to grow as well — streaming video traffic is forecasted to reach 82% of all Internet traffic by 2020. YouTube, one of the oldest major social networks, has built up its user base of 1 billion daily active users through video, but mostly focusing on pre-recorded, subscriber-based videos. 2016 saw the introduction of live video — the ability to instantly stream video live with your followers and social feeds —  ending with a record-breaking night for Facebook Live on New Year’s 2017.

In addition to Facebook Live, Instagram and Twitter launched their own live streaming versions at the end of 2016. Millennials especially love video content and represent the most active video viewers of any U.S. age group.

Why? More than any other demographic, millennials prioritize genuine content and experiences, and video is one of the most engaging types of content there is, as it’s easy to process and helps foster an emotional connection between brands and viewers.


4. Social Ecommerce

The more we live in and browse the internet through our channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) the more those networks are providing opportunities to brands to sell directly on their platforms. Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, and now Instagram all offer social selling, and the trend not only doesn’t show signs of slowing down, it’s proving to be effective.

Sprout Social recently reported that 57% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand they follow on social networks, and 75% have made a purchase because they saw a product on social media.

The trick for brands, though, is to remember that though they can now sell directly through social channels, the focus must be on creating and sharing content that makes following them an engaging, rewarding experience for consumers. Our brains are hardwired to respond emotionally to stories more than facts and numbers, and different types of content trigger different reactions in our brains — from improving retention and memory to forming connections and relationships.