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On a general level, users of social media sites in the US are less satisfied with those platforms than customers of dozens of other industries, according to a report [download page] from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). In fact, social media ranks 42nd out of 46 industries measured by the ACSI for customer satisfaction, with an overall score of 72 on a 100-point scale.

There are two main contributing elements to dissatisfaction with social media sites, per the report’s findings.

The first of those is very well-publicized: privacy. This year social media sites earned a satisfaction score of 71 for their privacy, down from 72 last year, 73 in 2016, and 77 in 2015. Clearly this issue – or at least social media users’ recognition of it – has worsened over time.

Facebook is probably the poster child for social media privacy issues. The platform alluded to “the impacts around privacy and the like” in its Q2 earnings report, which disappointed investors in demonstrating stagnant or declining numbers of users in North America and Europe.

The second contributor to dissatisfaction with social media is the amount of ads on the sites (which is in some cases tied to privacy concerns). Interestingly enough ad loads remain the most dissatisfying element of social media sites, per the report, with an overall satisfaction score of just 68 on the 100-point scale. Once again, that number continues to dip: this year’s score of 68 is down from 69 last year, 69 in 2016, and 74 in 2015.

One wonders where user satisfaction with social media platforms’ control over fake news would fall on the spectrum if tested by the ACSI… A recent report found that just one-third of respondents in the US agree that social media is performing well in controlling the spread of false information and in controlling hate speech, trolling and intimidation.

Smaller Social Media Sites Lead the Way

It seems a tad unreasonable to refer to Pinterest as a “smaller” social media site, but it is used by fewer people than the other well-known social platforms…

In any case, Pinterest has the highest customer satisfaction score of the tested social platforms this year, with an overall score of 80 on the 100-point scale. That puts it squarely on the threshold of excellence set by the ACSI, after a rise of a couple of points.

In so doing, Pinterest overtook another lesser-used platform, Google+, which dropped a couple of points to 79.

Among the other notable names were:

  • Instagram, down 3 points to 72, a curious drop given its much-beloved status;
  • Facebook, down a point to 67;
  • LinkedIn, up a point to 66; and
  • Twitter, down 4 points to 66.

Search Performs Better

Separately, respondents to the ACSI’s survey expressed more satisfaction with search engines. Overall, these various platforms scored a 79 on the 100-point scale, rising 3 points from last year’s result.

Google maintained its top ranking from last year, with its overall score of 82 placing it in the threshold of excellence.

Unlike social media platforms, which saw a decline in satisfaction across several measures, this year respondents demonstrated greater satisfaction with each element of the search customer experience, including:

  • Site performance (82, up from 78);
  • Freshness of content (81, up from 78); and
  • Amount of ads on site (70, up from 66).

As that last point notes, users appear to be more satisfied with the amount of ads on search engines than on social media sites this year, when the opposite was true last year.

The full report is available for download here.

About the Data: The ACSI describes its methodology in part as follows:

“The ACSI E-Business Report 2018 on internet social media, search engines and information, and news and opinion is based on interviews with 5,169 customers, chosen at random and contacted via email between July 18, 2017, and June 28, 2018. Customers are asked to evaluate their recent experiences with the largest social media, search/information, and news websites in terms of visitor traffic, plus an aggregate category consisting of ‘all other’ — and thus smaller — websites in those categories.”

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