Facebook has all kinds of gaudy statistics at their disposal. They have more users than pretty much any online service (over 600 million), and their usage statistics (logins, time spent on site, posts, interactions, etc.) are through the roof. But there's one significant measurement where, surprisingly, Facebook isn't the leader: user satisfaction. According to a new study from Netpop Research, YouTube bests the social network, Twitter, Groupon, and all other social media contenders in the area of user satisfaction.
Netpop Research is a market research firm in San Francisco that specializes in "understanding the use and perceptions of web-based products and services, including eCommerce, social media, online video, mobile applications and B2B online advertising platforms." The new study, called Social Animals: Who's Sharing What & Why Online, examines the important themes in 2011 surrounding social behavior and motivations.
The Major Findings
First and foremost, an unsurprising finding: People use Facebook more than any other social networking service, with more than 70% of respondents saying they'd used the service in the last 7-10 days.
So… nothing really Earth-shattering there. YouTube is in second, with 49% having used it in the last week.
Where the data gets a bit more unexpected is when they get into user satisfaction–which is measured by the number of users who are likely to recommend the service to friends and family members. In that measure, Facebook falls short, with only 36% saying they would recommend it. A whopping 50%, on the other hand, would recommend YouTube to their friends. Here's the chart, showing where all the major social services rank in user satisfaction:
What Does It Mean?
Well, at the risk of over-simplifying, it means that Facebook is facing some unique challenges that YouTube doesn't have to worry about–specifically, privacy issues. Facebook has been in the news entirely too much lately for potential security and privacy concerns–usually related to user data and the access advertisers and developers have to that data.
I'm not sure when the last time was I heard about similar problems at YouTube. And that's because YouTube isn't asking for tons of personal data. They're just letting users upload and watch videos. They're just hosting and serving up content.
Then there's the fact that viewers can enjoy YouTube's service without ever having to create an account or log in–something Facebook can't say at all.
So, is this data indicative of Facebook's struggles with privacy issues? Maybe. Or maybe YouTube just seems more harmless to consumers because they only use it to watch hilarious doggie videos. People are less likely to trust Facebook because Facebook asks for far more personal data… more of an investment.
There's nothing about the data that suggests we should radically change our social media marketing philosophy. More than likely, it merely underscores what we already knew. It's easier to get some basic traction on YouTube, because the users love the service. But for a more engaged consumer, Facebook might be the way to go–they're pickier about how they use it and who they interact with because of the level of personal data they've tied to their account. That means that when they do "like" or "friend" your brand, it means a whole lot more.
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