The Social Network – How the Internet and Social Media Connect Trinidad & Tobago
Social media is gaining momentum as an important information platform in Trinidad & Tobago, with 64 percent of the population subscribing to at least one social media platform, a recent media consumption survey commissioned by local advertising, cmb, has shown.
And while the Internet is proving to be a potent tool to reach key demographic markets, most people appear to have an aversion to clicking on web banner ads.
cmb designed the research framework and partnered with data analytics firms Lucent Research Ltd and Sacoda Serv Ltd, who conducted over 900 interviews featuring a cross- section of people that closely mirrored the latest census data for population demographics on age, income and socio-economic status.
Internet penetration in Trinidad & Tobago, according to the survey, is 81 percent, with 62.2 percent of people saying they used the internet daily, and 74 percent, weekly. Most people accessed the internet at home through a personal connection (75.1 percent), while 48.8 percent used mobile data. Free WiFi “hotspots” accounted for 11.9 percent of internet access. Smartphones were the most popular device from which people accessed the internet (44.5 percent), followed by laptops at a distant second (16.5 percent).
Most people reported Facebook as the medium through which they saw the most online ads (43.3 percent), followed by general web browsing (34.8 percent). In App ads accounted for 9.4 percent of responses, while Instagram and Twitter collectively had 7.5 percent, and other social networks, 7 percent.
Interestingly, web banner ads, considered a staple of digital media schedules, are unpopular: 66 percent of respondents said they did not click on web banner ads, while only 13 percent said they did.
Among the reasons for not clicking on web banner ads, people generally felt that the ads were annoying, untrustworthy and possibly contained viruses, or else were scams, spam and irrelevant, with several people saying flat out that they just didn’t like them.
A social media presence then, is imperative for brands to connect with a significant chunk of their target markets. A digital/social media presence means that brands can engage in more organic and conversational communication with their customers, fostering deeper connections that will ideally translate to greater customer loyalty. That engagement can also be used to gather direct and pertinent feedback about how to improve service.
Brands also need to have mobile interfaces that are easy to use and view because smartphones are the foremost tools by which people connect online.
Social media networking is the most popular online activity (66.4 percent), followed by internet searches (48.6 percent) and checking email (31.9 percent). Facebook was the most visited website (31.6 percent), followed by YouTube (18.6 percent), Google (9.1 percent) and Amazon (3.8 percent).
Social media giant, Facebook, is the overwhelming favourite across multiple demographics, with a significant number of respondents (43.3 percent) naming it as a main source of news, entertainment and advertising content, making the relative newcomer to the information media industry the third most noticed medium in the country, behind television (58 percent) and radio (44 percent.)
Unsurprisingly, the younger generation—Generation Z (aged 15-24) and Millennials (aged 18-35)—were more inclined to get their information from digital formats, with 65 percent of those in the 20-24 age group and 61.8 percent of those 30-34 years, reporting going online daily. In fact, over 50 percent of respondents from ages 15-44 said they used the internet every day. Overall, 38.7 percent said they spent, on average, one to four hours online per day.
Facebook is also the overall leading social media platform, with 62.1 percent of respondents saying they had an account, followed by Instagram, at 32.6 percent, Twitter with 14.1 percent and 10.9 percent on Snapchat.
Over 80 percent of Millennials and Gen Z had Facebook accounts, and over 50 percent had Instagram, while Snapchat proved most popular among Gen Z (21.8 percent) compared to Millennials (19 percent). Among the different socioeconomic groups, 58 percent of C1/C2/D respondents (partial secondary/vocational education) had Facebook accounts, compared to 46.5 percent of the A/B group (complete secondary/tertiary). The A/B group did, however, have a slightly greater presence on Twitter (12.5 percent) than C1/C2/Ds (11.2 percent).
While the rise, importance and opportunities of local social media have for the first time been measured to this extent, social media is but one instrument in the entire advertising orchestra. Integrated communication strategies need to be carefully directed by a competent conductor to reduce complexity. For that, there must be a composite intelligence, where each instrument complements the other to create a masterpiece. Advertising and marketing professionals, then, must see social media as a fundamental component of a balanced, tailored strategic approach rather than the only area of focus.
Brands can’t just “be” on social media, with little or no engagement, or else marketers risk losing the attention of bored audiences. Social media is a complex arena with elements that necessitate earning the desirable, yet potentially elusive attention of an audience—carefully weaved and crafted content is paramount for success. Brands must understand and harness the tools offered by these platforms to enhance opportunities, including the changeability of ad formats and quick responsiveness of advertising reach and frequency, especially to new trends.