More Canadians are social media followers than leaders: study

Young, urban immigrants are the most active social media users while the most wealthy and educated Canadians prefer to exist offline.

More Canadians are followers than leaders in the social media space. According to a new study by Environics Analytics and digital strategy firm Delvinia released earlier this week, the 20% of the population that actually produce content for social media sites like Facebook and YouTube tend to be young, upwardly mobile immigrants. Meanwhile 47% are older, affluent suburbanites looking to the platforms as a tool to plan purchases and stay abreast of market trends.

The remaining 33% are non-users, who are generally small-town seniors and upper-middle class couples and other demos traditionally slow to jump on board new tech trends.

The country’s biggest urban centres are home to the most active users with the population of Toronto leading the way. Nearly all Torontonians surveyed use social media and they’re split down the middle between producers (51%) and followers (48%).

Unsurprisingly, many of the nation’s bloggers are young, tech-savvy types but the study also found that a disproportionate number of older immigrants in cities like Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary are posting online. A third of Canadians use social media to specifically to stay in touch with family members and come from all walks of life.

Companies looking for product evangelists should brush up on their French. The survey reports that 20% of residents in small town Quebec regularly post product reviews online. Nine of the top 10 cities for product reviews are in the province.

The least popular social media platform is Twitter. The study likens postings on the micro-blogging site to a ‘tree falling in the forest where no one is there to hear it.’ Only 3.4% of Canadians read Twitter feeds and most ignore them all together.

Other findings include: more than a quarter of users spend more than a quarter of their time on Facebook and the most active users are young and ethnically diverse people in large cities; Torontonians and 905ers use social networking sites to meet potential mates, with young immigrants the most willing to risk heartbreak; older rural Anglophones and upper class suburban Francophones still prefer to meet and mingle offline. The most educated and wealthy Canadians are the least interested in social media despite being early adopters of new technology, as are farmers and blue-collar workers. Those groups still prefer traditional print media and use landline phones.

The study is based on responses that 23,144 Canadians gave last November. Delvinia conducted the study through its 160,000-strong AskingCanadians panel, and the responses were analyzed by Environics.