Social Networking Usage by Adults

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Pew Study Shows Uptick in Social Networking Use by Adults

In late 2012, it seemed that the use of social networking sites by adults finally reached its apex, levelling out according to a study by the Pew Research Centre’s Internet & American Life Project.

More than halfway through the 2013, all that has changed, according to a new study from the same folks at the Pew Research Centre. New research shows that 72 percent of online adults use at least one of the many social networking sites on the Web—that’s up from 67 percent found in the December 2012 study.

The study’s results proved interesting for us here at Enform, as they show that while growth was evident across all age groups, the most significant increases were among Internet users in the older age bracket.

To be more specific, Pew’s research shows that:

  • At least 43 percent of Internet users above the age of 65 are now on some social networking site as of May. This shows a large increase from 32 percent in the 2012 study.
  • Internet users belonging to the 50-64 age bracket showed an increase in social networking use, jumping from 52 percent in December to 60 percent in May.

Not only do these two findings show the highest levels of social networking adoption observed so far by Pew since 2005, they also contribute to the fact that social networking use by online adults is now at its highest—Pew attributes this to growth in the population of older online adults.

Meanwhile, the study also shows that 78 percent of internet users between the age of 30 and 49 are on social networking sites, representing the highest proportion on record, but just one point up from late last year. Similarly, while social networking adoption in people between the age of 18 and 29 showed an increase from 83 to 89 percent, it still failed to top the record 92 percent in August 2012.

The latest study from the Pew Research Centre shows other specific data revolving around demographic details:

  • Social networking adoption ranks higher among Hispanics at 80 percent compared to African-Americans at 75 percent as well as white non-Hispanics at 70 percent.
  • Adoption is also slightly higher among women at 74 percent compared to men at 70 percent.
  • Online adults without a high school diploma are the least likely to be on a social networking website (67 percent), though the gap is hardly significant between high school graduates and other educational attainment levels (at 72 to 73 percent).
  • Participants in the study with a annual household income of less than $30,000 a year show a 75 percent adoption rate, slightly higher than those with an annual household income of at least $75,000, at 71 percent.
  • Urban residents (74 percent) are slightly more likely to be on a social network compared to suburban dwellers (71 percent) and rural area users (69 percent).

The results of Pew’s study represent a need for social media marketers and brand owners to be considerate in tailoring their campaigns towards a wider audience. The idea that social networking is a “hip and trendy thing” seems to hold no water any longer.