Social Network Data: Usage Trends, Demographic Profiles

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Facebook remains by far the most popular social media site in the United States, according to a recent report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project.

Some 71% of Internet users in the US are on Facebook, the September 2014 survey found. However, growth seems to have plateaued: The proportion of online Americans on the social network has remained steady since August 2013.

Every other social media platform measured—LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter—registered significant user growth in the US between 2013 and 2014.

Instagram’s overall user figure increased nine percentage points, with growth registered in almost every demographic group.

LinkedIn continued to grow among groups with which it was already popular, such as professionals and college graduates, whereas Twitter and Pinterest increased usership across a mix of demographic segments.

Although domestic user growth has slowed, Facebook’s large base of US members continues to be very active compared with those of other social networks:

  • Some 70% engage with the site daily (45% do so several times a day), a significant increase from the 63% who did so in 2013.
  • About half (49%) of Instagram users and 17% of Pinterest users engage with their respective platforms daily—the same rates as in 2013.
  • Some 36% of Twitter users visit the site daily, a 10-point decrease from the 46% who did so in 2013.
  • The 13% of LinkedIn users who engage with the platform daily is unchanged from 2013, but more users are logging on less frequently.

Below, demographic information for each major social network from the report, which was based on data from a nationally representative sample of 1,597 Internet users in the United States age 18 and older.

Facebook

  • 56% of Internet users in the US age 65 and older now use Facebook, up from 45% who did so in late 2013 and 35% who did so in late 2012.
  • Women are particularly likely to use Facebook.
  • Among Facebook users, the median number of Facebook friends is 155. (Asked to approximate how many of their Facebook friends they consider “actual” friends, respondents reported a median number of 50).

Twitter

  • 23% of online adults in the US use Twitter, up from 18% who did so in August 2013.
  • Compared with 2013, Twitter use has increased significantly among several demographic groups: men, whites, those age 65 and older, those who live in households with an annual household income of $ 50,000 or more, college graduates, and urbanites.

Instagram

  • 26% of online adults in the US use Instagram, up from 17% in late 2013.
  • The proportion of users increased significantly in almost every demographic group; most notably, 53% of young adults age 18-29 now use the service, compared with 37% who did so in 2013.

Pinterest

  • 28% of online adults in the US use Pinterest, up from 21% who did so in August 2013.
  • 42% of online women are Pinterest users, compared with just 13% of men.

LinkedIn

  • 28% of online adults in the US are LinkedIn users, up from 22% in 2013.
  • 50% of college graduates use the platform, a 12-point increase from the previous year.
  • LinkedIn is the only platform where those age 30-64 are more likely to be users than those age 18-29.

About the research: The report was based on data from a nationally representative sample of 1,597 Internet users in the United States age 18 and older.

Ayaz Nanji is an independent digital strategist and the co-founder of Inbound ContentWorks, a marketing agency that specializes in content creation for businesses and brands. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. His past experience includes working for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

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