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Reviews on social networks influence 45% of all online US adults and 50% of those aged 18-34, according to a recent Harris Poll.

Online Reviews Most Influential among Ages 18-34
When asked how much reviews from friends or people they follow on social networking websites influence their decision to use or not use a particular company, brand or product, 45% of online adults said they have a great deal or fair amount of influence. Broken down by age demographic, social network reviews are most influential on 18-to-34-year-olds (50%). This percentage drops with each advancing age group, hitting its lowest rate (37%) among adults 55 and older.

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Thirty-three percent of online adults are influenced a great deal or fair amount by reviews on blogs and message boards. Results skew in a similar pattern across different age demographics, with the highest percentage among 18-to-34-year-olds (41%) and a sharper dropoff to the lowest percentage among ages 55 and older (18%).

Reviews from family members and friends are the most influential overall (71%), and also the most influential in every age category. However, these reviews are least influential among 18-to-34-year-olds (69%) and most influential among 35-to-44-year-olds (76%).

Reviews in newspapers and magazine articles have virtually the same overall influence as social network reviews (46%), with only slight fluctuation by age category.

Reviews from celebrities have low influence (10% overall), but are most influential in the 18-to-34 demographic (17%).

Younger Users Most Likely to Seek SocNet Influence
Beyond being the most likely to be influenced by reviews on social networks, 18-to-34-year-olds are the most likely to try to influence others through this medium. When asked if they aim to influence others through social media, 45% of respondents in this age bracket strongly agreed or agreed. Overall, 38% of online adults agreed or strongly agreed.

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And when asked if they have used social media as an outlet to rant or rave about a particular company, brand or product, 44% of 18-to-34-year-olds agreed or strongly agreed, compared to 34% of online adults.

Social media participants across all age categories are generally comfortable with giving up some privacy in exchange for using social media. Eighty-three percent of online adults agreed or strongly agreed that they understand by participating in social media they are giving up part of their privacy. This percentage was highest among 18-to-34-year-olds (85%) and lowest among 45-to-54-year-olds (78%).

Social Media Use Skews Young
Younger adults are definitely more likely to use social media. Overall, 64% of online adults use social media. This figure is 78% among 18-to-34-year-olds and 71% among 35-to-44-year-olds. At the other end of the spectrum, 43% of adults 55 and older use social media.

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Global SocNet Traffic Dramatically Rises
Globally, more unique users spent far more time on social networks in March 2010 than in March 2009, according to recent data from The Nielsen Company. Unique audience grew about 20% globally, from 261.7 million to 313.7 million. Total global minutes spent on social networks more than doubled, from 55.7 billion to 113.1 billion. Average time spent per user grew about 45%, from three hours, 32 minutes and 49 seconds to six hours and 25 seconds.

About the Data: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the US April 28-30, 2010, among 2,131 adults (aged 18 and older). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. These data were also weighted to reflect the composition of the adult online population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

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