Internet usage and connectivity in the USA

Social media

With over 170 million social media users in the US in 2014, and the figure projected to exceed 200 million by 2020, social media is as much a part of the retail landscape as in many other territories. According to Pew Research, Facebook is regularly used by 79% of online Americans, whilst Instragram is used by 32%.

Facebook is by-far the most dominant US social media platform, with a share of over 45% of total visits to social media during August 2015 in the US market. With such a dominance, Facebook is the place for shoppers to discover discounts and news ( The video sharing website, YouTube, is also an important player with 21% share. Other platforms are relevant to certain sectors. For example Pinterest works well in the fashion space. Pinterest has assisted 56% of active female Pinterest users ‘at least once or twice’ with a purchase of hair care or beauty products. This percentage is 20% higher than for male Pinterest users (PFS Web).

Research by in 2016 highlighted:

  Facebook now sees 8 billion average daily video views from 500 million users

  Snapchat users watch 6 billion videos every day

  US adults spend an average of 1 hour, 16 minutes each day watching video on digital devices

  78% of people watch online videos every week, 55% watch every day

Whilst the demographics of Facebook usage are fairly consistent across age ranges, Snapchat is particularly heavily utilised in the 18-34 year old groups. The challenge for brands is how best to use this platform as part of a commercial strategy.


Google dominates the search landscape in the US with 64% of total search traffic. However providers such as Bing and Yahoo!, whilst not the majority players in the market, still represent millions of users.

From a performance perspective, the same rules around SEO and advertising apply as they do in other territories. One important element though is recognising localisation and terminology. From a search perspective, this includes recognising that American English can be very different from British English. For example, ‘colour vs color’ and ‘pants’ versus ‘trousers’. These are more obvious examples but serve to highlight the subtleties that could impact the effectiveness of search marketing.

As with other territories, localisation should include the URL / domain name. ‘.com’ is used as the US top-level domain. If this is available to a business then it offers further reassurance to US consumers wishing to purchase from a merchant, in addition to the positive impact on SEO.

TAKEAWAY: A Google-based strategy and localisation of search terms is key. Balance paid-for and SEO investment and measure effectiveness regularly.