The Canadian Public Relations Society

Facebook and Twitter take root in Canada

In Social Media on October 5, 2009 at 1:35 am

More Canadians are using social media than ever before according to a recent national survey conducted by ZINC Research and its partner Dufferin Research. Although they are a little late to the party, the largest growth in Canadian Facebook users came from those over 35. In the last eight months Facebook use among 35 to 54 year olds grew by 46 percent, and by 113 percent among those 55 years and older.

This explosive growth means that there are now over 13 million Canadians that use Facebook. Or to put it another way, almost 40 per cent of Canada’s entire population accepted Facebook’s friend request in the last three years. Of Canadians that use the Internet, 68 percent of them have a Facebook account.

The research also showed that although we hear a lot about Twitter in the news, relatively few Canadians use the 140 character micro-blogging platform yet – only 14 percent of online Canadians. But with the ability to access the service both online and over mobile phones, these numbers are changing quickly. Canadian Twitter use has more than quadrupled in the last year.

The study also made note of an important shift in how Canadians are using these social networks. Facebook and Twitter have become instantaneous news feeds of personal and newsworthy information. The aggregate of all those “share this” buttons on nearly every article published online amount to a shift in the way the public consumes their news. Brian Singh, the director of ZINC Research, commented saying, “all social networking sites are modifying their offerings to incorporate Twitter or present similar elements in their own real time news feed. Social networking sites are more than a fad and are firmly taking root as a legitimate media choice among Canadians.”

Facebook and Twitter now act as a social filter for news and information – a real time interactive public conversation of sorts. Both services are creating local communities of interest and are facilitating public engagement by making it simple for likeminded people to organize around issues and events.

As the explosive growth of these social media platforms continues, public relations practitioners will be forced to adapt. For a more complete exploration of the implications of these rapid changes, check out Brian Solis’ PR 2.0 blog or his book, Putting the Public Back in Public Relations – How Social Media Is Reinventing the Aging Business of PR.

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