Popular SocNet Sites Prove Appealing to Varying Demographics

February 15, 2013

This article is included in these additional categories:

African-American | Boomers & Older | Digital | Household Income | Men | Social Media | Women | Youth & Gen X

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.

[Editor’s note: For updated data on social media user demographics, see MarketingCharts’ new report, US Media Audience Demographics.]

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).


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