Popular SocNet Sites Prove Appealing to Varying Demographics

Pew-Social-Media-User-Demographics-Feb2013Popular social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest attract some segments of the American population more than others, per results [pdf] from a new study from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. While that’s not an earth-shattering revelation by any means, the results do offer some intriguing glimpses into which segments prefer which sites.

Below are some highlights from the study, ordered by popularity of the social network. (Note that all percentages below refer to percentages of internet users, rather than percentage of Americans.)

  • Facebook, which (surprise!) ranks as the most popular social network, used by 67% of respondents, proves particularly appealing to women (72%), 18-29-year-olds (86%), those with household income of more than $75,000 per year (73%), and urban residents (72%).
  • Twitter usage is slightly more popular among men (17%) than women (15%), and non-Hispanic blacks are 63% more likely than the average respondent to report using the micro-blogging site (26% vs. 16%). Whites slightly under-index the average (14% vs. 16%), while Hispanics over-index (19% vs. 16%), though not nearly to the extent that blacks do. Twitter is also most popular among 18-29-year-olds (27%), but there is no real trend when sorting by education attainment or household income. Urban residents (20%) are more likely than the average to use Twitter.
  • Women are 5 times more likely than men to use Pinterest (25% vs. 5%). On Pinterest, white skew above-average (18% vs. 15%) in use, while blacks (8%) and Hispanics (10%) show below-average adoption. Interestingly, 18-29-year-olds and 30-49-year-olds show equal rates of adoption (19%), a result aligns with other research showing the site to attract an older audience. There is also a clear trend along education attainment, with those with a college degree or higher (20%) more likely to use the site than those with lower levels of attainment. Interestingly, rural respondents are more likely than urban respondents to use Pinterest (18% vs. 13%).
  • Women also outpace men (16% vs. 10%) in Instagram adoption. Use of Instagram is similar to use of Twitter on a racial/ethnic level. That is, non-Hispanic blacks are far more likely than the average respondents to report using Instagram (23% vs. 13%), while Hispanics over-index (18%) and white under-index (13%). There is a very clear age trend, with 28% of 18-29-year-olds using the site, compared to 14% of 30-49-year-olds, just 3% of 50-64-year-olds, and only 2% of the 65+ group. Instagram also tends to appeal more to urban (17%) than rural (11%) and suburban (11%) respondents.
  • There is no gender disparity in Tumblr use (6%), and there is little variation by race/ethnicity. 18-29-year-olds again are the most likely to use Tumblr (13%). There is no clear trend by household income or urbanity.

About the Data: The data is derived from Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project Post-Election Survey, November 14 – December 09, 2012. N=1,802 internet users. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish and on landline and cell phones. Margin of error is +/- 2.6% points for results based on internet users. Facebook figures are based on Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project Omnibus Survey, December 13-16, 2012. Margin of error for Facebook data is +/- 2.9 percentage points for results based on internet users (n=860).