The use of social media has become commonplace in Barbados. In a survey conducted by Antilles Economics in May 2018, we confirmed that 84.4% of Barbadians are active on at least one social media platform. Our study showed that social media is more widely used than newspapers (65.0% of Barbadians), CBC TV8 (26.4% of Barbadians) or radio stations (80.6% of Barbadians). The growth of social media has implications for how brands reach their target markets. Unlike traditional media, where there are limited options and the media houses themselves dictate the content (i.e. they push content to their audiences), social media requires a pull approach, as users develop their own content and curate their news feeds.
Understanding which platforms are used by Barbadians is the first step to developing a targeted social media marketing strategy. The most popular social media platforms are Facebook and YouTube, boasting a membership of approximately 40% of Barbadians, while the least popular are LinkedIn and Twitter (see Figure 1).
Figure 1: Social Media Platforms in Barbados (% of total respondents)
Disaggregating the results by age reveals that while Facebook and YouTube remain popular across all generations, the popularity of other platforms varies (see Figure 2). Instagram, for example, is used by one-third of Millennials and Generation Xers compared to just 8% of Baby Boomers, and the use of Snapchat falls from 24% of Millennials to 8% of Generation Xers to 0% of Baby Boomers. Understanding the platforms used by each generation can help brands develop more targeted marketing campaigns. When considering the number of platforms that respondents used, Millennials were on 3.4 platforms on average, with the average number of platforms falling to 2.7 for Generation Xers and 2.1 for Baby Boomers. These findings suggest that reaching Millennials may be easier, as they are active on more platforms than older generations.
Figure 2: Social Media Platforms in Barbados by Generation (% of total respondents in each generational group)
Although Barbadians are generally active on social media, their behaviour suggests that there may be limited interaction with brands. While on social media, in the 30 days preceding the survey, more than half of participants were visiting friends’ profiles or pages, watching videos, sending messages/emails, posting pictures or commenting on their friends’ posts. Only 40% ‘liked’ something, 38% followed a page/feed, 25% clicked on an advertisement, and, a mere 11% reviewed a product or service. Direct interactions with brands therefore, which were assumed to fall within these categories, were conducted by less than 3 in every 5 respondents (see Figure 3).
Figure 3: Summary of Social Media Activities
Social media behaviour also varied somewhat by generation, particularly with respect to possible direct interactions with brands. For example, Millennials and Generation Xers are more likely to ‘follow’ or ‘like’ something, whereas Baby Boomers are more likely to click on advertisements (see Figure 4).
Figure 4: Top 10 Social Media Activities by Generation
Antilles Economics is considering conducting deeper research into social media interactions with brands in the final quarter of 2018. We are interesting in understanding whether there are differences in how persons interact with brands on social media based on demographic and lifestyle characteristics. If you’re interested in your organisation participating in this research and would like further information, please email Stacia Howard at moc.scimonocesellitna@drawohs.
We’re investigating this topic because not only has social media use across Barbados surpassed that of the next most popular media – radio – the relationship between brands and their audiences has also shifted. No longer can brands simply rely on the push tactics common in traditional media to get their messages across. Developing a brand that not only attracts customers but also results in customers that are actually interested in receiving the brand’s messages is the result of successful marketing strategies. Understanding how to leverage social media to build meaningful relationships with target audiences forms the foundation of these strategies.
 Active users are considered to be those that have logged onto their social media accounts at least once in the 30 days prior to the survey.
 For the purpose of this study, Millennials are persons aged 22 to 35; Generation Xers are between 36 and 54 years old; and, Baby Boomers are between 55 and 70.