Customers are more satisfied with social media as news sites fall behind, according to new data from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Only a year ago, social media ranked among the worst industries in the Index, but now climbs 4.2 percent to a score of 74 on ACSI’s 100-point scale, overtaking Internet news and opinion websites.
Meanwhile, customer satisfaction with search engines and information websites is down 5 percent to 76.
“Today’s consumers practically live on their smartphones, and mobile compatibility is increasingly important to customer satisfaction,” said Claes Fornell, ACSI Chairman and founder in a statement.
“Social media has made strides in improving the mobile experience, particularly through mobile apps that can be optimized by operating system to ensure better compatibility with various screen sizes.”
The ACSI report, which is based on 5,400 customer surveys collected in the second quarter of 2015, is available for free download at www.theacsi.org/news-and-resources/customer-satisfaction-reports/reports-2015/acsi-e-business-report-2015.
Facebook Posts Strong Gain Among Social Media Sites
Facebook registered the most improvement in the social media category, soaring 12 percent to an ACSI score of 75, ahead of the industry average. Its stock is also up more than 15 percent since the start of the year, and shares have returned more than 35 percent to investors over the past 12 months.
“Facebook outranks the websites of many of the largest news organizations for customer satisfaction,” said ACSI Director David VanAmburg.
Pinterest led for the second year in a row and continues to improve with a 3 percent increase to an ACSI score of 78.
In second place, Wikipedia rebounds 4 percent to an ACSI score of 77. The online encyclopedia leads the category for ease of navigation and site performance, but has yet to fully recover from a fall in user satisfaction a year ago.
Instagram makes its first appearance in the Index with an ACSI score of 76. The mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing, and social networking site leads the category for ease of use on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.
YouTube leaped 4 percent to 76, and viewing time is up 60 percent.
Users more satisfied with privacy protections
Google+ is up 6 percent to 75, but users are no longer more satisfied with Google’s social networking site than they are with Facebook.
Twitter reached its highest ACSI score to date, rising 3 percent to 71. In the opposite direction, the average of “all other” social media sites, including Reddit and Snapchat, droped 3 percent to 71.
Near the bottom of the category, microblogging platform Tumblr posts its first ACSI score at 69. LinkedIn remains at the bottom despite a 1 percent uptick to 68.
ACSI data suggest that social media users are more satisfied with privacy protection – or at least less concerned – than they were a year ago. Also, users seem more accepting of advertising year-over-year and relative to other e-business websites.
Google Exceeds Other Search Engines Despite Slip
Customer satisfaction with search engines and information websites slides 5 percent to 76, reversing last year’s gain. The decrease is due in large part to a drop for the company that defines the category. Google remains the undisputed leader despite receding 6 percent to 78, and its market share, at 64.4 percent, is still more than double its nearest competitor.
Mobile searches now exceed those from desktop, but the rise of the mobile platform has proved slightly more difficult for search engines than for social media or news and opinion websites.
News and opinion sites fall
“Most website content was created for the desktop browser first, but as consumers continue to shift more of their Internet activity to mobile devices, companies need to optimize for different screen sizes, mobile browsers and operating systems,” says VanAmburg.
After Google, the race for second place intensifies with only 3 points separating Bing, AOL, MSN and Yahoo! The aggregate score for smaller niche-like search engines is down 3 percent to 75. Yahoo! climbs 6 percent to 75, while MSN is up 1 percent to 74. AOL ties MSN after a 6 percent gain. Bing gains in market share but slips in user satisfaction, down 1 percent to 72. New ACSI entrants About.com (71) and Answers.com (67) make up the category’s bottom.
User satisfaction with news and opinion websites dipped 1.4 percent to an ACSI score of 73. Stagnant at 76, FOXNews.com no longer holds the advantage over NYTimes.com, which jumps 4 percent to 76 following its largest website redesign in seven years.
“According to users, news websites are falling behind social media in a number of key areas,” says Fornell. “Not only are people looking to social media instead of news for fresh content, but news and opinion websites are the lowest-ranked e-business sites in terms of ease of use on mobile and tablet devices.”