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Social Media Use in Northern Ireland – Latest Trends Report from OFCOM


According to the latest OFCOM report into communications usage in Northern Ireland, there has been a sharp increase in the uptake of image-based social media networks such as Pinterest and of messaging apps including WhatsApp. The finding is one of many interesting insights into how people here are using social media in their day-to-day life – check out the blog post and infographic:

Snapshot of Social Media Use in Northern Ireland

Facebook is still the dominant social media network in Northern Ireland  – with 65% of adults using the network. You Tube is also used by 65% with WhatsApp (40%) and Twitter (33%) seeing large increases in the past year.


Social Media Network Use in NI



Emerging Social Media Networks in Northern Ireland 

Perhaps the most interesting finding in the report concerns the huge popularity of image-based social networks such as Pinterest and messaging apps including WhatsApp.

The strong social media trend in the past 18 month has been the rise in visual networks. In fact Pinterest and Instagram now have user bases of 70 million and 300 million respectively. The OFCOM report highlights very strong use of Pinterest here with 26% having used the site and one in eight using Instagram (12%). Although we should note that use of Instagram is still much lower than the Irish (19%) and UK (22%) average.

If you aren’t an avid user of some of the emerging social media sites, check out my summaries and links below:

Pinterest: Pinterest is online pin-board based completely around visuals. Think of it as a high quality online scrapbook where you can create boards of content by searching and ‘pinning’ images to your board. It’s a great site for people who want to find content according to themes such as fashion, travel, food and art. A significant amount of businesses, especially in travel and fashion, are using the site to promote their products and sell online.

Instagram: Instagram is a mobile-based image sharing app that allows you to stylise and share pics  and videos with followers on Instagram and other social media networks. You can also use it to discover new visual content from others people and brands.

The second big development in social media in recent years is the huge growth in instant messaging apps including WhatsApp and SnapChat.

WhatsApp: WhatsApp is one of the world’s dominant messaging apps that allows users to instant message others without paying for text messages. The service has 800 million users across the globe.

SnapChat: Snapchat another instant messaging app based around photos and videos. One of the unique features of Snapchat is that the images on the messages disappear after a maximum of 10 seconds. The service now has 100+ million daily active users.


Emerging Social Media in Northern Ireland


Social Media: Impact on Life

The OFCOM report shows that a significant percentage of people in Northern Ireland (23%) perceive themselves as ‘hooked’ on social media.

It’s interesting to note other local attitudes to social media in response to the following statements:

“I can’t understand why people share personal information with people they don’t know” (73%)

“Social media creates pressure to be active / get comments and likes” (50%)

… and one in eight people in NI (13%) have posted things online they wish they hadn’t!


Social Media Attitudes Northern Ireland


Marketing, Communications and Use of Social Media in NI

The OFCOM report clearly shows the popularity and influence of social media and the internet. However the clear trends in popular social media use have not reflected in the media and promotion mix by businesses in Northern Ireland.

For example, few businesses here use Linkedin effectively with only 16% of people use it compared to 27% of people across the UK. And it’s not just effective social media use by business. Exponential growth in online retail should serve as a wakeup call to the local retail sector, many of whom could be selling online and benefiting from what is clearly a high growth area.

Paul McGarrity