SocNet Users Get Older

pew research social network site users by age 2008 2010 jun11.thumbnail SocNet Users Get OlderThe average age of social network users rose between 2008 and 2010, according to data from the Pew Research Center Internet & American Life Project. For example, the percentage of social network users age 18-22 fell 43%, from 28% to 16%.

In addition, the percentage of social network users age 23-35 dropped 20%, from 40% to 32%. Meanwhile, the percentage of users age 36-49 rose 18%, from 22% to 26%. Most significantly, the percentage of users age 50-65 more than doubled, from 9% to 20%.

In total, 52% of social network users in 2010 were 36 and up, a 58% increase from 33% in 2008.

 SocNet Users Get OlderThere is considerable variance in the way people use various social networking sites. For example, 52% of Facebook users and 33% of Twitter users engage with the platform daily, while only 7% of MySpace and 6% of LinkedIn users do the same.

On Facebook on an average day, 15% of Facebook users update their own status, 22% comment on another’s post or status, 20% comment on another user’s photos, 26% “Like” another user’s content, and 10% send another user a private message.

The average American has just more than two discussion confidants (2.16); that is, people with whom they discuss important matters. Controlling for other factors, Pew found that someone who uses Facebook several times per day averages 9% more close, core ties in their overall social network compared with other internet users.

Pew looked at how much total support, emotional support, companionship and instrumental aid adults receive. On a scale of 100, the average American scored 75 on a scale of total support, 75 on emotional support (such as receiving advice), 76 in companionship (such as having people to spend time with), and 75 in instrumental aid (such as having someone to help if they are sick in bed).

Internet users in general score three points higher in total support, six points higher in companionship, and four points higher in instrumental support. A Facebook user who uses the site multiple times per day tends to score an additional five points higher in total support, five points higher in emotional support, and five points higher in companionship, than internet users of similar demographic characteristics. For Facebook users, the additional boost is equivalent to about half the total support that the average American receives as a result of being married or cohabitating with a partner.

While Facebook has the highest engagement rate of the “big five” social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube), the highest percentage of online consumers think having a LinkedIn account is important, according to an April 2011 study from ROI Research and Performics. Data from “S-Net: A Study in Social Media Usage and Behaviour” indicates 59% of online consumers rate having a LinkedIn account 4 or 5 on a five-point importance scale, compared to 53% giving this level of importance to having a Facebook account.

About the Data: Pew conducted a survey of 2,225 social network users on landline and cell phone from October 20 – November 28, 2010.

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