North American social users are more about friends than brands

Even with 95% of North Americans using social media, a new study by GlobalWebIndex shows that they might not necessarily be as engaged.
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The vast majority of Canadian internet users are also social media users, but that doesn’t mean they all use social media the same way – or for the same reasons.

A new study by GlobalWebIndex shows that compared to the rest of the world, North Americans may use social media more for the “social” purposes, leaving brands competing for attention.

North America has the lowest penetration for social media usage of all the areas measured – and although that penetration is still high at 95%, North American social media users are still more conservative than others around the globe when it comes to how much time they spend on the platforms and what they’re doing on them.

While Latin America and the Middle East/Asia regions over-index on time spent, North Americans have always spent the least time on social compared to other areas – and this year, average time spent went down. North American spend an average of one hour and 57 minutes per day on social platforms, compared to the global average of two hours and 24 minutes per day.

Most people around the world say they use social media to keep up with current events and news. However, North Americans, along with Europeans, say they use social media most often to keep in touch with their friends (52%). Additionally, 35% said they use it primarily to share photos and videos with others, and North America was the only place where a significant amount of people (35%) admitted to using social networks “to use up spare time.”

The most common types of accounts North Americans follow on social media are real-life contacts, such as friends and families. Brands clock in second, but are much lower at 37%.

North Americans in general tend to interact with brands less on social media; in the “discovery” stage of brands, 24% say they use ads they see on social to find out about new brands and products (this is lower than any other region; in Europe, that total is highest at 40%). It’s also lowest in terms of discovery through recommendations from social users and discovery through updates on official brand pages.

However, North Americans do rank higher in some areas of “purchase drivers”; 26% say the number of “likes” and comments on a post is a factor into their purchasing decisions, more than any other region. And, 15% say having a live chat feature factors in.