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Canadians spend most of their social media time (82%) being social—connecting with friends and acquaintances—and only 18% of it engaging with companies and brands.

Vancouver, BC – Insights West released today its 2016 Canadian Social Media Monitor, which tracks key trends in Canada’s social media landscape.

Facebook is Still the Preferred Social Media Platform for Canadians

In the online survey of a representative national sample, Facebook remains the most popular social media platform in the country, with a quarter of Canadians (26%) saying they are now spending more time on it.

More than half of Canadians (54%) say they use Facebook every day. YouTube is a distant second on daily use (23%), followed by Twitter (12%) and Instagram (11%).

Facebook continues to grow faster than any other social media channel in Canada while Twitter, Google +, Pinterest lose ground


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Across the country, 26% of Canadians say they are spending “more time” on Facebook compared to six months ago, while 15% say they are spending “less time” on the social media platform.

These numbers give Facebook the best momentum rating (+11) among the nine platforms tested. Only two others—You Tube (+4) and Instagram (+3)—have positive numbers. Snapchat has the same proportion of Canadians using it “more” or “less” in the past six months, while six other platforms hold a negative rating: Reddit (-3), Twitter (-5), LinkedIn (-5), Tumblr (-5), Pinterest (-6) and Google+ (-6).

Instagram gains traction with Millennials

Canada’s Millennials appear to be favouring two platforms, with a third of residents aged 18-to-34 saying they are using both Instagram (33%) and YouTube (32%) more than they did six months ago.

There are some striking differences among age groups, with two thirds of Canadians aged 55 and over (65%) saying they have never tried Twitter, compared to 47% of those aged 35-54 and 35% of those aged 18-34.

A similar situation ensues with Instagram, which has never been used by 37% of Canadians aged 18-34, compared to 67% of those aged 35-54 and 82% of those aged 55 and over.

“The biggest differences in the way Canadians are using social media are related to age”, says Ron Cann, Senior Vice President, Products and Qualitative Solutions at Insights West. “On most of the indicators tested, the numbers do not vary dramatically from province to province.”

Brands are still working hard to get in on the conversation

The main interaction from Canadians with companies continues to be through visits to company websites (30% say they do this at least 2-3 times a week), while 18% both talk about companies with friends and family and read e-newsletters that they subscribe to. Only 5% of Canadians say they interact with companies on a mobile device at least 2-3 times a week.

The level of interaction with companies on social media is decidedly lower. Across the country, 16% of Canadians have liked or followed companies on Facebook, while less than one-in-ten do so on other platforms (Twitter 7%, Instagram 5%, LinkedIn 4%). However, when it comes to actual engagement—commenting, posting or talking about companies on social media—the numbers are lower for three of these platforms (Facebook 8%, Twitter 5%, Instagram 3%, LinkedIn 4%).

When asked about all the time they spend on social media, Canadians acknowledge that 82% of these moments take place interacting with friends and acquaintances, while companies and brands amount to just 18% of all their social media time.

Disgruntled consumers choose Facebook and Twitter

One third of Canadians (33%) have complained about a service or company on Facebook, while 17% have complained on Twitter. Fewer than one-in-ten Canadians have used other social media platforms to complain about a service or company.

Restaurants amount to a whopping 82% of all complaints from Canadians on social media. In contrast, less than one-in-five Canadians have complained about transit (18%), telecommunications (12%), financial institutions (11%) or other retail outlets (10%).

For the full 2016 Canadian Social Media Monitor report click here.

About Insights West:

Insights West is a progressive, Western-based, full-service marketing research company. It exists to serve the market with insights-driven research solutions and interpretive analysis through leading-edge tools, normative databases, and senior-level expertise across a broad range of public and private sector organizations. Insights West is based in Vancouver and Calgary.

About this Release:

Results are based on an online study conducted from March 7 to March 10, 2016, among a representative sample of 1,049 Canadian adults. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.0 percentage points.

For further information, please contact:

Mario Canseco
Vice President, Public Affairs, Insights West