How Iowans Use Iowa Social Media - A Research Study on Iowa's Digital Media Habits

Date: August 18, 2021

Iowa small business owner and member breaks down Iowan's social media usage

The following is a post from one of our Iowa small business owners. Blue Compass is located in West Des Moines. They are a team of data-driven digital experts set on delivering cutting-edge, custom solutions to our clients. Blue Compass exists to provide businesses with a clear digital direction by serving as an extension of their team. Ranging from Fortune 500 companies to small family businesses, their clients are in nearly every industry. 

If you’re a marketer or business owner, knowing where to reach your audience is essential. The digital world is constantly changing, however, and it can be difficult to keep tabs on which digital platforms are the best way to connect with your audience.

As a digital marketing agency, it’s incredibly important for us to be aware of the behavior of our clients’ target audiences, many of whom are right here in Iowa. A few years ago, we searched for social media usage statistics from the state of Iowa in order to better understand Iowans’ online habits. Surprisingly, we were unable to find any solid localized data.

This led us to conduct our own market research to discover exactly how Iowans were using social media, a practice we perform regularly as digital trends are always changing.

To watch the video, click here

This year, we surveyed hundreds of Iowans aged 18-44 in our most comprehensive Iowa social media survey to date. For the first time, we studied not just Iowans’ social media habits, but also their entire digital media habits. For this research, we’ve partnered with the global leader in online survey sampling, Dynata; trusted by brands like Amazon, Wall Street Journal and Verizon.

Here are the key takeaways. 


Iowans’ Use of Facebook is Declining

In years past, our market research has continually shown one clear point: Iowans love Facebook. Traditionally, all age groups we have surveyed, even younger Iowans (ages 18-24) have listed Facebook as their most-used social media platform.

Our latest survey shows Facebook’s long reign as Iowans’ favorite social media is finally starting to shift. Two years ago, 82 percent of Iowans used Facebook. Today, this has decreased to 74 percent.

Facebook still maintains its stronghold among Gen X and Millennials, but among the new generation of 18-24 year-olds (Gen Z), we now see Facebook use decline significantly. Approximately 21 percent fewer Gen Zer’s use Facebook compared to the overall sample.


Iowa’s Use of Instagram Has Greatly Increased Over the Last Few Years

For the first time since we started doing this research three years ago, Instagram was very close behind Facebook with 70 percent of Iowans reporting using it. Two years ago, only 44 percent of Iowans reported using the platform.

The only other social media platform with more than half of Iowans reporting use was Snapchat, at 53 percent. However, TikTok and Twitter were not far behind with many people using these platforms as well.

Linkedin, while being among the least used, was one of only two platforms where males were more likely to report use than females (64% vs. 35%, respectively), the other platform being Twitter.


Iowans are Spending Huge Amounts of Time on Facebook

While Facebook use is beginning to decline in Iowa, most people still spend a great deal of time on the platform. Iowans reported spending the most time on Facebook (40%). The second most people spend time on is Instagram at 20 percent with TikTok following closely at 14 percent.

Iowans aged 18-24 had significantly different behaviors than members of other age groups when it came to where they spent the most time, staying on Instagram the longest, followed by TikTok and Snapchat. 35 to 44 year-olds dedicated the majority of their social media time to Facebook (65%) compared to only 9 percent of 18 to 24 year-olds.


Are Iowans Leaving Social Media?

The research reveals just 4 percent of Iowans aged 18-44 reporting that they use no social media. This result seems to contradict popular opinions that social media is losing its influence and being dropped by many, as it is the same percentage of people who reported not using social media back in 2018. While the events of 2020 have caused some to leave social media nationally, Iowans’ use remains constant.

We did ask the few Iowans who have stopped using one or more social platforms why they decided to end their use. Some of the answers we received include, “Too toxic and a waste of time,” as well as, “I got tired of the politics and the exaggeration and am happier without it,” and interestingly, “I’m not single anymore.”


If You Want to Market to Gen Z, Look No Further Than Instagram

Reaching the younger generation of Iowans is easiest on Instagram as it’s the number one platform among 18-24 year-olds with 84 percent reporting use. Snapchat trails Instagram in usage with 76 percent of Gen Z reporting use. And of course, more 18-24 year-olds use TikTok than any other age group.


If an Iowan Makes a Direct Purchase on Social Media, It’s on Facebook or Instagram

Iowans’ love for Facebook continues to show, as they report being most likely to make a direct purchase from Facebook (35%). The second most common platform for people to say they would purchase from was Instagram (22%). If it isn’t on one of these platforms, they aren’t likely to purchase from any social platform (23%).

If your business is interested in selling directly on social media platforms to Iowans, Facebook and Instagram are likely to be most effective for you, regardless of the age or gender of your target audience. Unless your product or audience are a very specialized segment of the market, obtaining a significant amount of sales on other social platforms may be difficult.


Iowans are Most Likely to Respond to Ads on Facebook and Instagram

Looking to place a few online ads? Unsurprisingly, they may be most effective if placed on Facebook and Instagram. In fact, 37 percent of Iowans say there’s a good chance they will buy something if they see a Facebook ad for it, followed by Instagram at 23 percent. In contrast, only 14 percent of Iowans will consider purchasing a product or service if they see an ad for it on TV.


Iowans are Embracing Telegram

Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat aren’t the only social platforms where Iowans are spending time. Telegram, the emerging cloud-based instant messaging/social media platform is used by an impressive one quarter of Iowans – more than use Pinterest. This growth is likely because of recent concerns over privacy and censorship by big tech on traditional platforms.


Most Iowans Believe Social Media Hasn’t Significantly Impacted Society in a Positive or Negative Way

About half of Iowans see social media as fairly neutral and don’t feel it has had a significant positive or negative impact on our society. Just under 30 percent of Iowans feel the impact of platforms like Facebook have been mostly negative, while only 19 percent believe social media has a positive effect on our culture.


Iowans Rely on Google for Local and National Searches

An impressive 93 percent of Iowans report using Google for their online searches. This is slightly higher than the national average of 88.5 percent. Bing comes in second at 28 percent. While Duck Duck Go is used by just 17 percent of Iowans, this is impressive use for a search engine that was relatively obscure just a few years ago, and significantly higher than the national average of 2.4 percent.


Google is Iowa’s the Most-Used Digital Service

If you’re truly looking to reach Iowans, Google is the place to be, and search engine optimization (SEO) services are likely a solid investment. Nearly all Iowans use Google. This is consistent with our digital marketing experience. While Google Ads can be very effective, organic Google search is simply the best way to reach the vast majority of our clients’ audiences in Iowa.

The effectiveness of Google search isn’t just because of the vast amount of users, but also because of the type of users. People who find your brand via search are typically much more likely to convert (perform your desired action) than people who find you via sources like social media or ads. This is because users’ intent is different when using a search engine. When someone is using Google, they are seeking an answer. If your brand can be part of that answer, it can lead to an inquiry, lead or sale. In contrast, people aren’t typically looking to engage in a transaction on social media. They’re often seeking connections or entertainment, and thus are less likely to convert.


Get the Full Results of the Iowa Digital Media Survey

At Blue Compass, we are data-driven marketers who offer our clients guidance based on analytics and strategic market research. We performed this research so we could use the results to develop better digital strategies for our clients.

If you’re interested in a clear direction for your website, social media and SEO, we’d love to hear from you. Simply reach out to our team and let us know how we can serve you.


Drew Harden, President

Related Content: Small Business News | Iowa

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