The Web is a virtual sea of unlimited possibilities, and everyone's online habits are different — especially on social media. But how does your everyday life affect your Internet activity?
Facebook recently began a series of studies on how people in different life stages use the social networking platform, and what their interests are. The life stages covered include recent college graduates, engaged couples and newlyweds.
As it turns out, you can learn a lot about consumers based on things like their relationship status on Facebook. The findings are especially important for businesses looking to market to these target groups. Here's what the social networking giant found.
Recent college graduates
Perhaps unsurprisingly, recent college graduates' top concerns are getting a job and starting their careers. In the year after graduation, Facebook users discuss job- and debt-related topics more than ever. Recent grads post about interviews 83 percent more than the year before and talk about employers 72 percent more as well. They also post more about jobs (54 percent), loans (51 percent) and commuting (49 percent).
So, who are the recent college graduates on Facebook? Their median age is 22. Fifty-one percent of them are female, and 49 percent are male.
New college grads are also the most engaged group of people on Facebook. According to the study, recent grads create 1.6 times more posts than average Facebook users, and send 1.3 times more messages.
The majority of recent graduates that Facebook spoke with said they had found a job after graduation, but most considered their positions temporary because their jobs either paid less than they had hoped or were not in their field of study. [11 Things College Grads Look For in an Employer ]
Facebook also found that female college graduates are more likely to use the social network to stay updated on products related to financial services, health care, beauty and retail. Male college graduates also use Facebook to keep up with financial-services-related products, as well as console games, electronics, sports and cars.
What it means for marketers:
Businesses can reach more than 1.4 million recent graduates in the United States through Facebook, so it's important to understand their needs.
Since the top priority for recent graduates is finding a job and becoming financially independent, Facebook suggested that marketers help them in their job search by promoting websites, clubs, associations and subscriptions for young professionals. Additionally, it's important to promote technology (like productivity apps) that make grads' lives easier.
Recent graduates also need things like affordable professional attire and easy, healthy, on-the-go food options to help them save money. Marketers can also find ways to help graduates pay off their loans, Facebook suggested.
"By providing grads with the tools necessary to collaborate or be entrepreneurial, marketers can help inspire and empower recent grads as they step off of campus into their new lives," Facebook wrote on its blog.
In the last year in the United States alone, 2.6 million people changed their relationship status to "engaged" on Facebook. The median age of engaged people on Facebook is 24, and 30 percent of them get engaged in November or December. (The most popular days to propose are Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day, according to Facebook.)
With wedding bells in the air, engaged Facebook users are focused primarily on planning their wedding and their futures, though their interests and concerns vary by gender. Fifty-two percent of engaged Facebook users are female, and their primary concern is planning the big day, whereas males (48 percent) are more concerned with financial stability and purchasing a home.
Engaged people are also more active on Facebook, with men sending 1.4 times more messages, writing 1.2 times more posts and making 1.2 times more check-ins than the average male ages 20 to 30. Women are even more active, with 1.3 times more photo uploads, 1.4 times more check-ins and 1.3 times more posts on average.
And while there's no visible difference in page likes for men, engaged female Facebook users are more likely to use the social network for wedding planning, bridal dresses, and fashion- and beauty-related pages.
What it means for marketers:
Facebook advised marketers to help women with resources for their wedding, like florists, reception venues, gowns and stationary. To reach out to men and get them involved in the wedding planning process, show them ideas and offers for lighting, signature cocktails and wedding music.
A good way for jewelry brands to reach men in relationships is to advertise around the holidays, when more proposals are taking place.
Between planning the wedding and planning for the future, many couples are strapped for cash. Facebook suggested marketers take this opportunity to reach out to engaged couples' parents, who often help with wedding expenses. It's also another good opportunity to reach out to men, since their primary concern is financial stability, to help them map out their goals, Facebook added.
And, of course, with honeymoons on the horizon, it's a great time for travel brands to reach out to engaged Facebook users.
The average length of engagement is 14 months, according to Facebook, so brands have a long time to connect with engaged people on the social network.
Last year, 2.6 million people in the United States changed their Facebook relationship status to "married," and the most common months for weddings were, perhaps unsurprisingly, May, June, July and August.
After the wedding, most newlyweds are concerned with owning a home and starting a family. However, given that the median age for newlywed females on Facebook is 26 — 28 for males — many newlyweds are still struggling with student debt. As a result, some of the users Facebook spoke with said they're worried about being able to afford their dreams.
Facebook data also show that newlyweds' use of Facebook pages shifts after the wedding.
"When it comes to pages they like on Facebook, immediately after the wedding ceremony, newly married couples like pages related to love, relationships and their wedding, of course," Facebook wrote. "A few months after the big day, they tend to like pages related to more domestic topics, including cooking and home improvement."
Newlyweds are also very active on the platform. Recently married men upload 20 percent more videos than average males ages 20 to 30 on Facebook, and they post 40 percent more, too. Additionally, new brides make 30 percent more Facebook comments than the average woman in their age group, and they also post 30 percent more than usual.
What it means for marketers:
"During this life stage, when newlyweds are intent on saving for their future, paying off debt and building a solid foundation, a key way marketers can help is by offering money-management tips," Facebook wrote. To do this, the company suggested encouraging newlyweds to set up money-saving goals and offering financial vehicles for investments and savings to help them achieve these objectives.
It's also important to focus on things related to owning a home. Facebook noted that settling into a home together is costly and time-consuming, and this is the time to offer savings on things like home furnishings, appliances, and Internet and cable TV subscriptions, as well as other big purchases, like cars. Offering tips for home decorating is also a good idea, Facebook wrote.
Additionally, it's also a good time to reach out to newlyweds with offers and tips related to food.
"Encourage newlyweds to venture into the kitchen with healthy food, recipe and cocktail ideas for quick and easy dinners or more elaborate dinner parties," Facebook wrote.
These studies drew on Facebook's internal data, as well as interviews with Facebook users and data from research agency Firefly Millward Brown.