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And The Most Popular Apps Of 2017 Are…

Social Media Week




As 2017 draws to a close, Apple is recounting the top apps of the year and highlighting four key trends that dominated “app culture.”

Here are the top 20 apps in order of popularity:

  1. Bitmoji
  2. YouTube
  3. Instagram
  4. Google
  5. Spotify
  6. Gmail
  7. Amazon
  8. Wish
  9. SoundCloud
  10. Waze
  11. Snapchat
  12. Messenger
  13. Facebook
  14. Netflix
  15. Uber
  16. Pandora
  17. Whatsapp
  18. Twitter
  19. Google Chrome
  20. Lyft

Per App Store editors, the trends to watch are augmented reality, real-time gaming (HQ Trivia, anyone?), mental health and mindfulness apps, and apps that transform reading and storytelling.

The importance of tuning into themes and overwhelming preferences when it comes to apps was also echoed in the the 2017 U.S. Mobile App Report recently published by comScore, which found that despite apps being responsible for 57 percent of all digital media usage, more than half of those surveyed claimed they download zero new apps per month.

Why? Because there just isn’t enough time or space (both in terms of smartphone storage and mental bandwidth). That being said, one of the key takeaways from the findings included that a growing number of consumers, particularly millennials, are favoring utility apps that they can employ to make their day-to-day lives smoother and void of hassle.

What do you think of the 2017 list? What are your projections if you had to create your own list for 2018? Let us know in the comments!

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Thinking About Using a Third-Party Social Media Tool for Your Content? Read This First.




This story originally appeared on Buffer

Putting your trust as a marketer or brand in third-party social media tools to manage all of your posts can be a bit scary. 

You might be wondering:

  • Are my posts getting optimal reach and engagement?
  • Do social media platforms penalize third-party tools?
  • Are third-party tools really worth the cost?

These are some of the most common questions our customer advocates receive on a daily basis. And up until this research, we haven’t had any concrete data to say “yes” or “no” to whether or not third-party tools affect the reach and engagement of posts.

Related: What Marketers Need to Know About LinkedIn

We’re hoping to change that. For an entire month, with the help of several awesome marketers and brands, we tested more than 200 posts across 35 profiles to see exactly how third-party social media tools stack up against native posting.

We’re excited to share the experiment setup and results in their entirety. 

Brief summary of results: third-party tools do not seem to negatively affect the reach of posts

We’d love to share a quick summary of what we found (you can find the full results and more on how we ran the experiment below).


  • Third-party tools: 9 posts / 81,639 total reach / 9,071 per post
  • Native posting: 9 posts / 79,380 total reach / 8,820 per post


  • Third-party tools: 45 posts / 949,890 total impressions / 21,108 per post
  • Native posting: 45 posts / 975,223 total impressions / 21,671 per post


  • Third-party tools: 9 posts / 63,221 total reach / 7,024 per post
  • Native posting: 9 posts / 54,646 total reach / 6,071 per post

Read on to check out all of the details.

Third-party social media tools vs. native posting: the setup

In order to make the research as statistically sound as possible, we focused on three important factors:

  • Account variation: Ensuring that we tested multiple third-party social media tools and social accounts
  • Content quality: Ensuring that we tested similar content across platforms
  • Posting consistency: Ensuring that we posted at similar times and frequencies

Our tests ran from November 27, 2017 to December 19, 2017.

Account variation

Our biggest concern with an experiment like this is that our results would be biased if we only tested Buffer content with the Buffer tool.

We knew it would take multiple marketers and tools to make the data meaningful.

First, we signed up for test accounts with Hootsuite and CoSchedule. This would allow us to test three different third-party social media tools to reduce the chance of a particular tool playing a factor in reach and engagement.

Then, we turned to the Social Media Masterminds Facebook Group and asked if any marketers would be up for helping us run a few tests. The response was incredible.

Judging by the number of comments and overall enthusiasm for this experiment, we knew we were onto something.

In the end, we received data from 11 different brands, totaling more than 98 posts across Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Factoring in these results to the overall findings greatly helped to reduce any biased data.

Now we just had to figure out how we would approach content.

Content quality

Content presented a unique challenge in that we had to be strategic about what we posted and when we posted it.

As many marketers know, posting the same content multiple times in a short period of time might result in a decrease of reach and engagement with each post.

We ultimately decided that we would not post the same content multiple times. Rather, we would post three different types of content (links, images, videos) and do our very best to ensure that each piece of content was super high-quality.

But what we realized is that, at the end of the day, it’s nearly impossible to create truly equal content — some posts will inevitably perform better than others based on a hundreds of different algorithm factors.

In short, content is the number one factor that determines success on social media. (More on the implications of social media content later in this post.) 

Posting consistency

The final factor that we focused on for this experiment was to ensure that we were posting consistently. Both timing and frequency impact social media results and so we did our best to post at roughly the same time and frequency each day.

  • Facebook: Posted once per day between 6:00 a.m. & 12:00 p.m. PST.
  • Twitter: Posted 3-5 times per day between 5:00 a.m. & 10:00 p.m. PST.
  • LinkedIn: Posted once per day between 6:00 a.m. & 12:00 p.m. PST.

Posting natively proved to be the most difficult part of this experiment. We found that without third-party social media tools we were having to set reminders in our calendar in order to post at the correct times.

Multiplying that by eight posts per day and three social media accounts, we did end up missing a few posts here and there which prolonged the study.

Last, but not least, it might be helpful to provide the Buffer audience sizes on each network.

Current Buffer audience sizes:

  • Facebook: 106,000
  • Twitter: 927,000
  • LinkedIn: 16,500

Third-party social media tools vs. native posting: the results 

Now for the fun part! Do third-party tools negatively affect reach and engagement on social media?

Data-backed answer: No.

We did not find a significant difference in social media reach and engagement whether we posted through third-party tools or natively to each network. As you might expect, some pieces of content performed better than others no matter how they were posted.

Related: A Simple 3-Step Approach to Successful Social Media Advertising

If you’re interested in seeing all of the raw data from our experiment, feel free to check out the original spreadsheet where we kept track of every single post. And if you’d like to run your own third-party tools vs. native posting experiment, we’re happy to share the blank spreadsheet template: Third-Party Tools vs. Native Posting Results (Blank .XLS)

Total reach

First, let’s take a look at the main component of our experiment — how third-party tools performed vs. native posting in regards to reach/impressions on each social media network.


  • Third-party tools: 9 posts / 81,639 total reach / 8,515 per post
  • Native posting: 9 posts / 79,380 total reach / 8,820 per post

Slight advantage: third-party tools


  • Third-party tools: 45 posts / 949,890 total impressions / 21,108 per post
  • Native posting: 45 posts / 975,223 total impressions / 21,671 per post

Slight advantage: native posting


  • Third-party tools: 9 posts / 63,221 total reach / 7,024 per post
  • Native posting: 9 posts / 54,646 total reach / 6,071 per post

Slight advantage: third-party tools

Average reach per post type

Next, we thought it would be useful to break down how each post type (links, images/GIFS, videos) performed with both third-party social media tools and native posting.

Link posts:

  • Average link post reach (Facebook, third-party): 7,333
  • Average link post reach (Facebook, native): 7,332
  • Average link post impressions (Twitter, third-party): 20,326
  • Average link post impressions (Twitter, native): 18,931
  • Average link post reach (LinkedIn, third-party): 6,125
  • Average link post reach (LinkedIn, native): 5,852

Images/GIFs posts:

  • Average image/GIF post reach (Facebook, third-party): 5,733
  • Average image/GIF post reach (Facebook, native): 8,237
  • Average image/GIF post impressions (Twitter, third-party): 19,522
  • Average image/GIF post impressions (Twitter, native): 22,914
  • Average image/GIF post reach (LinkedIn, third-party): 8,148
  • Average image/GIF post reach (LinkedIn, native): 6,247

Video posts:

  • Average video post reach (Facebook, third-party): 14,146
  • Average video post reach (Facebook, native): 17,100
  • Average video post impressions (Twitter, third-party): 26,495
  • Average video post impressions (Twitter, native): 24,214
  • Average video post reach (LinkedIn, third-party): N/A
  • Average video post reach (LinkedIn, native): N/A

It’s interesting to note that in all cases there was no clear winner between third-party social media tools and native posting. Each performed better seemingly at random — making their performance more or less even across the board.

Which leads us to the three major takeaways that we got from this experiment.

Third-party social media tools vs. native posting: takeaways

This experiment was an eye-opening one, to say the least. It gave us a great perspective on the current state of social media reach and engagement while also reminding us how much time and effort goes into creating great content.

We’re excited to share the three biggest takeaways we learned in the process.

1. The importance of content

The number one takeaway that we got out of this experiment is that content is the most important factor that determines social media posting success.

It matters more than timing and frequency. And it matters more than whether or not we posted natively to each network or through a third-party social media tool.

In examining the data, there were times when a piece of content “went viral” when posted natively and there were times when content “went viral” when posted through a third-party tool.

We’ve had the pleasure of running multiple experiments over the past year and it always comes down to the same thing: content.

For example, simply reducing our posting frequency and focusing on only creating content that we knew our audience would love, we were able to increase our Facebook organic reach by more than 330 percent in 2017.

Sometimes all it takes is a fresh perspective on the types of content we create:

2. The power of video

We’ve talked about the importance of video marketing lots here on the blog in the past – we even mentioned the video trend in a recent episode of the Buffer Podcast.

Related: 12 Fantastic Places to Find Background Music for Your Video Content

Now we’re excited to say that we have our very own data to back it up!

Here’s how videos stacked up in terms of reach and engagement on Facebook and Twitter in comparison to links and images/GIFs:

LinkedIn doesn’t currently offer native video posting for brands and so we weren’t able to test the data from that network. But rumor has it that they’ll be opening up native video posting for brands sometime in 2018 (yes!).

Whether networks are prioritizing videos in their algorithms or people truly do enjoy interacting with video over other types of posts, we can expect to see a lot more of them in the coming year.

3. Time and productivity

Folks that work and are successful in the social media industry know that it can take lots of time and effort to create amazing content and grow accounts.

That’s why we’re huge fans of anything that can make our jobs that much easier — extensions, hacks, tools, you name it!

Planning, uploading and posting to social media natively turned out to be a major challenge for us. We often found ourselves forgetting to upload a Tweet or Facebook post at a certain time.

And quite ironically, when posting natively, we ended up using Buffer to “store” all of our content so that we could quickly copy and paste the image and caption to each social network. We’re not sure what we would have done without that over the course of the three weeks.

For us, utilizing a social media tool like Buffer, Hootsuite, CoSchedule (or any of the other great tools out there) is how we’re able to ship great content consistently and on time.

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Amazon Announces 20 Finalist Cities In HQ2 Search

Social Media Week




This just in: Amazon has drastically narrowed the list of possible locations for its second headquarters, HQ2, from 238 to 20 U.S. cities.

Per Amazon, more than $5 billion will be invested in the construction of the second headquarters, which will employ 50,000 high-paying jobs. The company has also specified that it is particularly interested in locations with a population of at least 1 million people that has “strong local and regional talent, particularly in software development and related fields, as well a stable and business-friendly environment.”

“Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough—all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity. Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.” said Holly Sullivan, an executive with Amazon Public Policy, in a statement to the Chicago Tribune.

Here are the cities still in the running:

  • Atlanta
  • Austin, Texas
  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Indianapolis
  • Los Angeles
  • Miami
  • Montgomery County, Md.
  • Nashville, Tenn.
  • Newark, N.J.
  • New York City
  • Northern Virginia
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Raleigh, N.C.
  • Toronto
  • Washington, D.C.

Per CNBC, the 20 finalists will work with Amazon over the coming months to “evaluate the feasibility of a future partnership,” with an ultimate decision anticipated later this year.

For more insights on Amazon and the future of work, don’t miss SMWNYC (April 24-27). Browse the agenda and register for your pass today.

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Report: We Have Gen Z All Wrong And Here’s Why

Social Media Week




Think you know Gen Z? Think again.

A new cultural insights report by research group Box1824 sheds light on the unique characteristics and values of Gen Z-ers (AKA people born 1995-2014) that set them apart from previous generations. Its findings provide important takeaways for brands looking to craft post-millennial marketing strategies.

The report’s big finding: Society at-large, and especially marketers and members of the media, have a lot of misguided perceptions with respect to this group’s identity and the way they live out their lives. Contrary to acting like “millennials on steroids,” which is a commonly-held assumption, Gen Z-ers should be treated as their own distinct cohort. Box1824 theorizes that this bias has been fueled by a “hypervisible demographic of micro-celebrities and digital influencers.”

In the report, the researchers redefine Gen Z as “GenExit,” since this generation’s underlying mindset is that there’s always an exit door. One of the most surprising findings was that members of this group are turned off by the pressures to sell themselves (and their personal brands) via social media. Rather than being attracted to a world that’s consumed by views, likes, shares, comments, and subscribers, Gen Z or GenExit prefer to create more “fluid identities.”

Along these lines, they opt for much more personal digital personalities with engagement centered around themes of “imagination, creativity, and intimate connections” as opposed to commercialism and power. The report also finds that the platform of choice for GenExit, the one that most closely aligns with their values, is Snapchat, as it’s considered to be the most intimate and ephemeral.

“In the same way that Millennials transformed cable into prestige TV, GenExit will remake social media in their own image,” predicts Box1824. How? By being relatable, and pragmatic.

Two additional characteristics of GenExit to note include their skepticism and tepid feelings on commitment. This not only applies to their hobbies and behavior when engaging in social media but to their political and religious views and their approach to careers and education as well.

A growing number of Gen Z-ers are cutting ties with such establishments in favor of third-party affiliations—something the report calls a “crisis of institutions.” This is an especially important attribute for marketers at large, heritage brands to note. Post-millennial consumers are natural skeptics and will require new avenues for building trust. This finding also seems to open up new opportunities for challenger brands to make a mark within established industries, a trend we’ve already seen take hold with millennial consumers.

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The State of Social 2018 Report: Your Guide to the Latest Social Media Marketing Research

Social Media Week



We’ve come a long way since the great social media marketing boom of the late 2000s. New platforms have emerged and established ones have lost favor or reinvented themselves along the way. It’s a whole new world out there.

Facebook is still dominant, but the platform is unveiling some of its most sweeping changes in years. Vine might be gone (or is it?), but Twitter continues to make major moves by way of live video. Snapchat is on the precipice of its own redesign, and the list goes on.

To help marketers navigate the ever-changing social media landscape, we partnered with our friends at Buffer to produce a new report: The State of Social Media 2018. The goal of the project is to shed light on recent movements in the social space, providing actionable insights that you can use this year and beyond.

The data we captured explores topics such as how businesses are utilizing specific platforms today, the rise of paid social media, how social content strategy has changed, and how marketers can measure social media efficacy. You can download the full report here.

3 Key social media takeaways to guide your marketing in 2018

1. There are huge opportunities in the messaging space (only 20 percent of marketers have used messaging apps for marketing)

Messaging platforms have grown at an incredible rate over the last couple of years. And there are now more people using the top four social messaging apps (WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, and Viber) than the top four social media apps (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn)1.

Despite this incredible growth, our State of Social 2018 survey found that just 20 percent of businesses have invested in marketing through messenger platforms:

After seeing such high user growth for the past few years, companies like Facebook will begin to focus on how they can monetize chat apps which will open up new advertising opportunities for marketers.

Right now, marketers still appear to be investing more time and resources into social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but as organic reach continues to decline (more on this below), we’ll see a greater number of marketers experiment with messaging apps as a way to connect with their audience.

2. Companies that invest in social media ads are more than twice as likely to say social media marketing is “very effective” for their business

When we asked respondents how effective social media marketing has been for their business 45 percent said “somewhat effective” and a further 29 percent believed that social media marketing had been “very effective”.

However, when we split these results based on whether or not the respondents had invested in ads, we found that businesses that have invested in social media ads are more than twice as likely to report that social media marketing is “very effective”.

Whereas businesses that have not invested in ads are more than twice as likely to report that the effectiveness of social media marketing for their business is “uncertain” or “very ineffective”.

3. Engagement is the #1 way to measure ROI from social media advertising

When we asked respondents how they measure the ROI of their social media advertising campaigns, 42 percent said engagement, followed by leads (17 percent) and sales (15 percent):

When we broke down the data by business size, engagement was still the #1 way both small and large businesses measure ROI from social media advertising:

This appears to be the continuation of a trend we noted in 2017, where social media is becoming more about engagement than driving traffic or making direct sales.

How marketers are using social media platforms: 7 insights you need to know

1. Facebook is still the leading platform for marketers (96 percent of businesses use Facebook)

Facebook is the leading platform for marketers with 96 percent saying their business is actively using it. Twitter was close behind with 89 percent of respondents saying they use the platform for their business.

2. Facebook organic reach continues to decline (only 21 percent of respondents haven’t noticed a decline in the past 12 months)

Facebook is constantly tweaking its News Feed algorithm and it appears that organic reach has once again declined over the past 12 months with just 21 percent of people “disagreeing” or “strongly disagreeing” with the below statement:

3. Video is a top priority for 2018 (85 percent of businesses would like to create more video content)

Video has been booming across social channels for the past couple of years and 85 percent of businesses are keen to create more video in 2018:

When we asked what’s currently holding businesses back from creating more video content lack of time and budget were the two main blockers:

4. Facebook is dominating the paid advertising space (94 percent of marketers have used Facebook Ads)

Facebook is the most popular platform for paid ads (94 percent), followed by Instagram (44 percent), with LinkedIn and Twitter tied in third place (26 percent):

Looking ahead, 67 percent of businesses are looking to increase their social media advertising budget in 2018:

5. Images are the most shared type of content (95 percent of businesses post images to social channels)

Ninty-five percent of respondents said their business posts images, with links (85 percent) being the second most shared content type:

6. The rise of stories (68 percent of marketers are planning on creating more stories in 2018)

Last year, only 29 percent of State of Social respondents had created stories on Instagram or Snapchat. This year 42 percent have created stories on Instagram (just 11 percent had created stories on Snapchat):

Further to this, 68 percent of respondents plan to create more stories content in 2018:

7. Live video hasn’t yet caught on (only 31 percent of marketers have broadcast live video)

In our last State of Social report, 26 percent of marketers said they had created live video content. In 2017, 31 percent of marketers said they had broadcast live content—just a 5 percent increase:

For those who have created live video, Facebook was the number one platform of choice, ahead of Instagram and Periscope (Twitter):

Live video could still present a huge opportunity in 2018, though. Facebook’s Head of News Feed, Adam Mosseri, recently revealed that live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos. This could be especially valuable for Page owners as Facebook is making changes to their News Feed algorithm to give people more opportunities to interact with the people they care about.

The data: Who took part in the survey?

For this report, we surveyed over 1,700 marketers from businesses of all sizes. The majority of respondents work at companies who focus on both B2B and B2C customers (43 percent), while 33 percent work at purely B2B companies and 25 percent at B2C companies. 49 percent of our respondents work at businesses with 1-10 employees. At the other end of the scale, 7 percent of respondents work at companies with over 200 employees.

Company size

Just under half (49 percent) of the people who took our survey work at companies with fewer than 10 full-time staff. A further 21 percent work at companies with between 11-50 full-time team members. Here’s the full breakdown:

  • 49 percent: Fewer than 10 people
  • 13 percent: 11-25 people
  • 8 percent: 26-50 people
  • 8 percent: 1,001+ people
  • 7 percent: 51-100 people
  • 6 percent: 101-200 people
  • 5 percent: 201-500 people
  • 4 percent: 501-1,000 people

Marketing team size

The majority of respondents in our survey work closely with a small number of colleagues in their marketing teams or act as the sole marketer at their company:

41 percent of respondents were the only marketer at their company38 percent of people worked in marketing teams of between 2-5 colleagues11 percent of people work in marketing teams larger than 11 people9 percent of people work in marketing teams of between 6-10

Industry breakdown

Twenty-three percent of those who took the survey work at organizations in the marketing, PR, and advertising space. Other industries include: Media and Publishing (11 percent); Non-Profit (10 percent); Education (8 percent); Consumer Products (8 percent); IT & Services (6 percent); Software (5 percent); E-commerce (3 percent); Medical & Healthcare (3 percent); Financial (3 percent); Travel & Tourism (2 percent); Financial Services (2 percent); Government (2 percent); Law & Legal Services (1 percent); Other (15 percent).

Over to you

Thanks so much for checking out our State of Social 2018 report. We hope you enjoyed the data and discovered some useful takeaways for your business.

P.S. We’ve made the data open and available to anyone in this Google Sheet (feel free to make a copy and interrogate in any way you’d like – we’d love to hear what you might find). You can also download a copy of all the State of Social 2018 charts here.

Feature image via Jaelynn Castillo.

Explore these themes and more in-depth at SMWNYC, to be held April 24-27, 2018. To take advantage of the 30% off early bird discount, register by Jan. 19.

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