WASHINGTON: American social media users plan to spend less time following celebrities and brands during 2014 and more time getting back to the basics of staying in touch with friends and family, new research has revealed.

Heart+Mind Strategies, a strategic marketing consultancy, polled 1,013 adults, including 734 social media users, and found that personal relationships were at the heart of the latter group's wish list for the coming year.

The top three things they wanted to do more of on social networking sites included staying in touch with family (56%) and current friends (55%). Contacting old friends they'd lost touch with was also important (32%).

The study also identified two particular social media audiences: Millennials and (self-proclaimed) addicts. As might be expected, Millennials, defined as 18-33 year olds, were less concerned about staying in touch with family (42%) or reconnecting with old friends (25%), while the addicted – typically female, frequently young, single and Hispanic – were keen to look up old friends (41%).

Heart+Mind Strategies said the research showed there was "a strong desire to eliminate or reduce the noise" generated by people and institutions that social media users were not close to, apart perhaps from the 16% it classified as addicts.

The top five things that social media users wanted to do less of in the new year included reading comments by celebrities, athletes or politicians (38%), finding potential romantic or dating partners (30%), passing time (27%) , reading comments by companies or brands (26%) and gathering surveillance/knowledge about others (22%).

"People want to build and preserve their inner circles while eliminating superfluous activities that do not enrich their lives or deliver the sense of belonging that first made social media such a great thing," said Heart+Mind Strategies. It added that social media users would not be using these platforms less overall, but rather adjusting their focus.

The implications for marketers, it suggested, included the need to concentrate on the quality rather than the quantity of posts. In addition, posts and tweets should be focused on those aspects of products or services that could help users do the things they were aspiring to do this year, i.e. connect with others.

Data sourced from PR Newswire; additional content by Warc staff