SOCIALscape 2019: Canada’s definitive measurement of social media and messaging usage patterns

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December 17, 2019 — Pollara proudly presents the fourth edition of SOCIALscape, Canada’s definitive measurement of social media and messaging usage patterns. 

Although almost all (90%) adult online Canadians use social media, usage and activity remains primarily Facebook-based. Each of the other platforms has significantly lower membership share and usage frequency.Eight-in-ten (80%) Canadians continue to use Facebook, whereas each of the secondary tier platforms – Instagram (43%), Twitter (42%), Pinterest (41%), and LinkedIn (36%) – claims about half or less the market penetration enjoyed by Facebook.

Canadians are not as active on social media as commonly assumed, and are much more likely to be wallflowers – that is, passive readers – than active posters. However, both posting and re-posting/sharing frequency is on the rise across all platforms.

Canadian social media users spend an average of 6 hours per week on social media. Most are primarily connected to family, friends, and peers on social media, but more than half are connected to at least a few companies, products, or brands. When posting, humour (41%), personal news (35%), and current events (32%) are the top topics. Just 17% of social media users post about politics/government.

Most Canadian social media users report seeing ads in their social feeds – consumer goods/services and retail stores are the most prevalent subject matter, but survey invitations and political parties, candidates, and causes are also in the ad mix – although somewhat less so. The majority of users will click on an ad for more information at least some of the time, especially for surveys, retail stores, and consumer goods/services. 

When it comes to evaluating the social media experience, most social media users agree that it is a “fun” and “cool” place, it exposes them to different views, and it lets them stay connected to friends and family. However, most feel that people are more negative and hostile on social media than in real life, and worry that social media is fostering hate and violence in society.

Nevertheless, the positives – or the enduring power of FOMO – appear to outweigh the negatives, as less than one-in-ten social media users and Facebook users are seriously considering quitting social media in general or Facebook specifically.

When it comes to messaging apps, almost all (90%) adult online Canadians use at least one such service. Facebook Messenger (70%) is the leading app, followed by basic SMS texting (59%).

However, these dominant platforms do not lead in terms of usage frequency on a platform-by-platform basis. While Facebook Messenger had the highest overall user incidence, only 41% of Messenger users report sending messages on a daily basis. Similarly, the proportion (53%) who text at least on a daily basis also trails the incidence of users (59%).

Comparatively, although just 30% of Canadians use Apple’s iMessage service, six-in-ten (58%) iMessage users send messages at least daily and 77% do so at least weekly. Similarly, WhatsApp users – just 29% of Canadians – are also more likely to send messages daily (43%) than Facebook Messenger users.

For more details and insights, please read our overview report. 

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