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Nowadays you don’t have to shake your stick very far to hit a survey talking about social and digital media use.  But one of the cornerstones of this data-obsessed industry is Ofcom’s Adult Media Use and Attitudes Report.  The report highlights the roles that media play in people’s daily lives.  Having run for 12 years, it presents a detailed study of the ways people are adopting technology and their views on media content.  It contains some interesting data for law firms and chambers in the UK.

Top 10 key findings:

  1. Use of smartphones for those aged over 65 was the only group to increase – from 28% to 39% (65-74) and 8% to 15% (over 75).  In fact, users aged 65-74 were twice as likely, than in the previous year, to nominate their mobile phone as the device they would miss most (20% versus 10% in 2015). Even more interesting is that, in the same age-group, 51% say they have a tablet, with 30% saying they use it regularly. Oh… and 41% of those over 75 say they have a social media profile.
  2. 66% of all those surveyed said they would use a smartphone to access the internet, rather than a computer.  There was also an increase in those accessing the internet via tablet and 24% said they only access the internet via a device, rather than a computer.  Drilling down, 55% of those that have started using the internet in the last five years will use their device to access the internet, rather than a computer.
  3. There was an increase in the number of people using smartphones for financial and travel activities, also – for example tickets, boarding passes, contactless payments etc. However, 69% of respondents felt it was more difficult to complete forms on a smartphone (as opposed to a computer).
  4. While the number of adults who have a social media profile did not increase (76% of all internet users), people are now using a wider range of social media platforms.  45% use WhatsApp, 31% use Instagram, 30% use YouTube, 23% use Snapchat, 16% use Google+ and 12% Pinterest.  Facebook is still the most dominant social media platform.
  5. Social media as a way of crowdsourcing opinion and recommendation seems to be on the increase.  62% said that friends and family members tell them about content and forward it to them.  Just under half (48%) said they view content based on recommendations from friends and family. Interestingly, 30% of those that share articles on Twitter and Facebook agree that they often do this without fully reading it first.
  6. Interestingly, however, 44% said that they were put off from posting content because of the potential for abusive comments and responses.
  7. People are, increasingly, changing to communicate via private group discussions, for example Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and closed groups in LinkedIn/Facebook. 57% said they do this regularly, with 41% saying they do this every week. 42% said they were more inclined to post comments and opinions in closed groups.
  8. The perception of social and digital media as holding risks for digital data seem to be lessening.  72% said they were confident in their ability to manage access to their personal data online. More than one in three said they were happy to provide personal information online as long as they get what they want.
  9. The majority of users (67%) say they make one or more checks to verify the accuracy of ‘factual’ information online.  45% said they look at other websites to see if the same information appears on all of them.
  10. 97% of users rely on search engine rankings in their decisions as to what content they view and trust. Only 48% of users say they can identify Google advertising over organic search results.

Five things we need to do NOW to respond to this report:

  1. Recognise that most people are viewing your site on a smartphone or tablet – and make it the best, most accessible you can.
  2. Stop saying that social media is only for kids. The chances are your target audiences are using an average of six social media platforms.  And if you’re not saying anything on them, they aren’t hearing you.
  3. Consider ways to use closed groups (e.g. LinkedIn groups, Facebook pages and WhatsApp) to communicate with specific target audiences.
  4. Stop worrying about data security – your target audiences aren’t worried and, as an excuse for not embracing social and digital media, it’s losing validity.
  5. Get on top of your search engine rankings and advertising. It’s a simple equation… if you have good stuff to say you need to make sure it’s possible to find it as easily as possible.
  6. Oh… we couldn’t stop at five. Share content. If you’ve gone to the trouble of writing something really good then make sure it’s shared with other sites, and on social media, so people can find it in more than one place.

About the Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report 2017

The Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes Report highlights the roles that media play in people’s daily lives. This is the 12th report to be published, providing a valuable longitudinal study looking at media use, attitudes and understanding and how these change over time. Covering TV, radio, mobile, games and the internet, this report primary draws on data gathered from the annual Ofcom Adults Media Literacy Tracker survey. It is based on interviews with 1846 adults aged 16 and over in November and December 2016. It is supplemented with the Technology Tracker survey, based on 3743 interviews with adults aged 16 and over in January and February 2017.

Want to learn more about our social and digital media activity with law firms and chambers? Have a look to the right at our case studies and information.

photo credit: European Parliament #PICsocial conference via photopin (license)