The State of Social Report 2018

The Social Outlook

From benchmarking brand engagement to audience demographics, learn the social media stats shaping 13 industries

The State of Social Report 2018The Social Outlook
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Social media has empowered all businesses to act faster, perform smarter, and fuel every decision with intelligence.

We unpacked the social engagement, consumer insights, biggest trends and brand health of 13 industries. Learn what millions of conversations can tell us about over 250 of the biggest organizations. 

Whether a part of a brand’s voice, a channel for customer support, or a resource to extract customer and industry intelligence, social media is a key part of more and more business functions.

Teams beyond marketing, from customer service to product R&D, are collecting and analyzing online conversations to perform their jobs better.

As the world’s leading social intelligence provider, we compile this annual report that takes a step back and looks at the state of social and what it means for businesses.

Analyzing over two hundred million conversations about the the biggest brands, we curated the most important social insights of 2018 to help you can drive smarter, more successful business decisions.

Social content engagement

To take your social media strategy to the next level, it’s important to understand the global social landscape of your industry—including how your competitors behave.

What is the “norm” for your industry? Do you produce the volume of content your audience expects of your industry, and is your content received as well as your competitors?

An average day on Twitter

Follower Count Audience @Mentions Audience Replies Audience Retweets Brand Tweets Brand Replies Brand Retweets
Airlines 949836 842 281 72 136.1 132.6 0.2
Alcohol 117033 124 29 24 4.4 1.7 0.1
Automotive 1116976 645 177 187 8.3 5.3 0.2
Consumer Goods 449317 343 73 56 7.8 3.5 0.5
Consumer Technology 2565376 1251 335 278 57.9 41.7 0.8
Energy 240364 171 39 44 4.0 1.2 0.6
Fashion 2861671 429 65 208 2.2 0.2 0.1
Financial Services 364957 415 94 40 6.8 3.9 0.4
Hotels 121311 135 29 6 9.8 8.2 0.5
Pharma/Health 96513 164 33 20 3.2 0.5 0.4
Retail 1236756 2217 155 78 15.6 13.1 0.2
Telecom 470470 502 179 54 61.4 59.3 0.4
Television 3529878 2185 542 685 21.6 5.6 5.1

An average day on Facebook

Followers Brand Posts Brand Comments Daily Content Likes Daily Net Page Likes
Airlines 3,967,114 1.7 19.7 2,610 1,171
Alcohol 6,363,882 0.4 1.5 635 365
Automotive 10,400,171 1.2 4.3 4,193 1,697
Consumer Goods 12,249,861 0.7 2.0 201 868
Consumer Technology 21,947,959 1.1 2.6 2,724 35,605
Energy 1,397,232 1.2 0.9 935 717
Fashion 7,881,396 1.5 0.1 2,863 1,109
Financial Services 3,409,585 0.8 4.6 191 525
Hotels 791,576 0.6 1.6 1,064 180
Pharma/Health 347,570 0.9 1.0 323 65
Retail 9,361,070 1.6 21.5 2,131 924
Telecom 4,177,406 0.5 37.2 1,064 625
Television 15,800,477 9.6 1.8 14,871 317

Brand and industry health

As a huge source of unfiltered consumer thought, social media analysis should be the first step in monitoring your brand health.

Are customers satisfied with your brand’s promise? How are they engaging with your brand and products, and is this better or worse than the rest of your industry? Are there any parts of your buyer journey that are particularly weak?

Benchmarking the emotions and sentiment surrounding your brand and industry reveals important issues to address as well as potential opportunities for your social program.

For instance, the most positively discussed industry in 2018 was the alcohol industry. We found that one of Stella Artois’ advertising campaigns (which we discuss below) and the 2018 World Cup’s effect on beer consumption helped influence this.

Among the most negatively discussed industries were hotel brands, financial services, and companies in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry.

Sentiment of conversations around 13 industries

This is an interesting shift from last year. In 2017, airlines and telecom companies represented the most negative industries.

Brands in the the airlines and telecom industries had the highest percentage of owned social media conversation of all the industries we looked at in 2018. This was probably due to their bigger focus on customer service and responding to the issues highlighted by their audiences.

We’ll be on the lookout to see whether pharmaceutical and financial services companies invest more in social customer care in 2019.

Percent of owned vs. earned social media conversation

Audience Activity Brand Activity
Fashion 99.6% 0.4%
Television 99.1% 0.9%
Retail 98.8% 1.2%
Automotive 98.6% 1.4%
Pharma/Health 98.1% 1.9%
Financial Services 98.0% 2.0%
Energy 97.8% 2.2%
Consumer Goods 97.6% 2.4%
Alcohol 96.6% 3.4%
Consumer Technology 94.9% 5.1%
Hotels 90.3% 9.7%
Telecom 85.9% 14.1%
Airlines 81.6% 18.4%

We examine each industry in depth and find the brands and market trends influencing differences in sentiment in our spotlights below.

Industry spotlights

While it’s important for brands to monitor their place in the greater market landscape, each industry has particular challenges and objectives which forge their unique relationships with social media.

However, looking at the entire multi-industry landscape together, we were able to identify a few common trends this year, that impacted several industries.

For instance, K-pop band BTS was brought up in relation to both CPG brands and fashion brands. And due to the polarizing US political and social organization, the National Rifle Association (NRA), consumers on both sides of the aisle called for boycotts of brands in several industries because of their association (or lack thereof) with the NRA.

The following section provides an overview of each industry’s relationship with social, a snapshot of their average customers, and a look at the trends and events that shaped their social presence in 2018.

1. Airlines

2. Alcohol

3. Automotive

4. Consumer Goods

5. Consumer Technology

6. Energy

7. Fashion

8. Financial Services

9. Hotels

10. Pharmaceutical & Healthcare

11. Retail

12. Telecommunication

13. Television

Airlines consumers compared to average social media user

By looking at the Twitter users discussing 20 of the biggest brands in this industry, we compared the breakdown of the gender, professions, and interests of this industry to the average Twitter user and reported the most divergent demographics.

Trending conversations in 2018

Snapshot from Brandwatch Analytics' word cloud, showing the highest volume keywords, hashtags, locations, organizations, and people in the negative energy conversation from January 1 - July 31, 2018.

Alcohol consumers compared to average social media user

By looking at the Twitter users discussing 20 of the biggest brands in this industry, we compared the breakdown of the gender, professions, and interests of this industry to the average Twitter user and reported the most divergent demographics.

Trending conversations in 2018

Snapshot from Brandwatch Analytics' word cloud, showing the highest volume topics in the alcohol conversation from January 1 - July 31, 2018.

Automotive consumers compared to average social media user

By looking at the Twitter users discussing 20 of the biggest brands in this industry, we compared the breakdown of the gender, professions, and interests of this industry to the average Twitter user and reported the most divergent demographics.

Trending conversations in 2018

Snapshot from Brandwatch Analytics' word cloud, showing the most trending keywords, hashtags, locations, organizations, and emojis in automotive conversations from January 1 - July 31, 2018.

CPG consumers compared to average social media user

By looking at the Twitter users discussing 20 of the biggest brands in this industry, we compared the breakdown of the gender, professions, and interests of this industry to the average Twitter user and reported the most divergent demographics.

Trending conversations in 2018

Snapshot from Brandwatch Analytics' word cloud, showing the most trending keywords, hashtags, and emojis in the consumer packaged goods conversation from January 1 - July 31, 2018.

Technology consumers compared to average social media user

By looking at the Twitter users discussing 20 of the biggest brands in this industry, we compared the breakdown of the gender, professions, and interests of this industry to the average Twitter user and reported the most divergent demographics.

Trending conversations in 2018

Snapshot from Brandwatch Analytics’ word cloud, showing the highest volume hashtags, emojis, and organizations in the technology brand conversations from January 1 - July 31, 2018.

Energy consumers compared to average social media user

By looking at the Twitter users discussing 20 of the biggest brands in this industry, we compared the breakdown of the gender, professions, and interests of this industry to the average Twitter user and reported the most divergent demographics.

Trending conversations in 2018

Snapshot from Brandwatch Analytics' word cloud, showing the highest volume keywords, hashtags, locations, organizations, and people in the negative energy conversation from January 1 - July 31, 2018.

Fashion consumers compared to average social media user

By looking at the Twitter users discussing 20 of the biggest brands in this industry, we compared the breakdown of the gender, professions, and interests of this industry to the average Twitter user and reported the most divergent demographics.

Trending conversations in 2018

Snapshot from Brandwatch Analytics’ word cloud, showing the highest volume topics, broken down by type, in the fashion conversation from January 1 - July 31, 2018.

Financial service consumers compared to average social media user

By looking at the Twitter users discussing 20 of the biggest brands in this industry, we compared the breakdown of the gender, professions, and interests of this industry to the average Twitter user and reported the most divergent demographics.

Trending conversations in 2018

Snapshot from Brandwatch Analytics' word cloud, showing the highest volume topics in negative financial service conversations from January 1 - July 31, 2018.

Hotel consumers compared to average social media user

By looking at the Twitter users discussing 20 of the biggest brands in this industry, we compared the breakdown of the gender, professions, and interests of this industry to the average Twitter user and reported the most divergent demographics.

Trending conversations in 2018

Snapshot from Brandwatch Analytics' word cloud, showing the highest volume topics, broken down by type, in the hospitality conversation from January 1 - July 31, 2018.

Health industry consumers compared to average social media user

By looking at the Twitter users discussing 20 of the biggest brands in this industry, we compared the breakdown of the gender, professions, and interests of this industry to the average Twitter user and reported the most divergent demographics.

Trending conversations in 2018

Snapshot from Brandwatch Analytics’ word cloud, showing the highest volume topics in the negative pharmaceutical and healthcare conversations from January 1 - July 31, 2018.

Retail consumers compared to average social media user

By looking at the Twitter users discussing 20 of the biggest brands in this industry, we compared the breakdown of the gender, professions, and interests of this industry to the average Twitter user and reported the most divergent demographics.

Trending conversations in 2018

Snapshot from Brandwatch Analytics’ word cloud, showing the highest volume topics in the negative retail conversations from January 1 - July 31, 2018.

Telecom consumers compared to average social media user

By looking at the Twitter users discussing 20 of the biggest brands in this industry, we compared the breakdown of the gender, professions, and interests of this industry to the average Twitter user and reported the most divergent demographics.

Trending conversations in 2018

Snapshot from Brandwatch Analytics' word cloud, showing the highest volume topics in negative telecommunication conversations from January 1 - July 31, 2018

TV Networks consumers compared to average social media user

By looking at the Twitter users discussing 20 of the biggest brands in this industry, we compared the breakdown of the gender, professions, and interests of this industry to the average Twitter user and reported the most divergent demographics.

Trending conversations in 2018

Snapshot from Brandwatch Analytics' word cloud, showing the highest volume topics in negative TV network conversation from January 1 - July 31, 2018.

Closing notes

It’s fundamental for brands to understand how their company fits into the lives of their customers. An overlooked part of that knowledge is the understanding of how your company and industry fits in the larger online landscape.

For companies targeting the complex consumer on social, it is vital to think outside-of-the-box and consider how the activities of different industries inform, influence and affect one another.

Every touchpoint, every interaction your customers have with your brand should shape your marketing, sales and overall business strategies. Understanding who those customers are and how they experience your products, your competitors, and brand outside your industry are the cornerstones to connecting and keeping them.

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Interested in finding insights like this with the click of a button? Have a general question about social intelligence or any findings in this report? Drop us a line to talk to one of our experts.

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