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STUDY: Which Social Networks Inspire the Greatest Brand Dependence?

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Given the unrelenting flood of new “next big thing” networks, you may be forgiven for answering the headline’s question with “none of ‘em.”

But a study presented at this year’s SXSW says otherwise.

The research, performed by United Talent Agency’s UTA Brand Studio and digital survey provider uSamp, includes some interestingly specific findings.

The first big surprise? Twitter didn’t score in the top five in any age group.

More after the jump.

To clarify, we’re not talking membership or followers: the survey measured dependence, or the degree to which users identify with a given brand and see it as an extension of themselves. It’s a slight variation on the brand loyalty metric in terms of measuring which networks users see as most essential to their daily lives.

Key findings:

  • While Facebook was the overall winner, Instagram beat its parent company for loyalty in the coveted 18-25 demo

So it’s true that the Millennials are more intimately attached to their Instagram accounts.

  • Twitter scored low on loyalty and likability despite the fact that a majority (59%) of participants are active users

The takeaway: while most have Twitter accounts, very few use it to an obsessive degree (unless they happen to be professional journalists, PR professionals or comedians).

The “visual rules” theme held across nearly every category, with even Flickr making an appearance. Gender divides were also telling:

  • Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest each scored greater dependency ratings among women
  • Men generally tended to place more value on video, giving higher ranks to YouTube, Snapchat, Vine and Vimeo

Income made a dramatic difference in only one case: wealthier participants were far more likely to pledge allegiance to Foursquare.

Finally, some up-and-coming networks scored very highly on the dependence front despite lower membership numbers. Reddit and Tumblr were right behind the big four (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest) in nearly every category.

Here’s the full slideshow:

What do we take from these findings? Anything unexpected?

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