SocNet Users Get Older

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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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Consumers More Likely to Express Satisfaction via SocNet

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 Consumers More Likely to Express Satisfaction via SocNetDespite common industry wisdom that consumers are much more likely to publicize negative experiences, consumers express satisfaction on social networks more frequently than disappointment, according to an April 2011 study from ROI Research and Performics. Data from “S-Net: A Study in Social Media Usage and Behavior” indicates in the case of restaurants, 60% of online consumers use social networking sites to express satisfaction about a purchase, brand or retailer.

This makes restaurants the vertical most likely to receive good publicity via social network. Other verticals with 50% or more of online consumers saying they use social networks to express satisfaction are food brands and household products (53% each) and telecommunications (50%).

 Consumers More Likely to Express Satisfaction via SocNetIn addition to being the vertical fourth-most-likely to receive positive social network comments from consumers, household products are also most likely to receive negative social network comments. However, only 29% of online consumers say they use social networks to express disappointment in household products.

Interestingly, both the telecommunications (28%) and restaurant (25%) verticals are also among the most likely to receive disappointing social network comments from consumers.

 Consumers More Likely to Express Satisfaction via SocNetIn terms of offers to win online points that can be redeemed for products or prizes via social networks, consumer interest currently appears tepid. No vertical has more than 50% of online consumers expressing interest in winning points via social network. Education (47%), sports-related (44%) and electronics (43%) are the leading verticals in this area.

 Consumers More Likely to Express Satisfaction via SocNetWhen it comes to printable coupons obtained from social networks, online consumers show a bit more interest. Fifty-six percent are interested in receiving printable coupons from educational brands, while 52% are interested in receiving printable coupons from sports-related brands. Interest in printable coupons from brands in the restaurant (49%), auto, electronics and food (48% for each vertical) verticals was also higher than interest in points from any vertical.

Other study results show that a combined 49% of online consumers are extremely (5%), very (10%) or somewhat (34%) likely to post interesting or relevant content about a product/service, company or brand such as sale announcements, coupons, new product announcements, interesting videos, etc. on social networking sites.

Interestingly, a combined 60% of online consumers are extremely (5%), very (13%) or somewhat (42%) likely to take action when a friend posts this type of social network content.

About the Data: In April 2011, ROI Research and Performics conducted an online survey of 2,997 consumers age 13 and older who access at least one social network regularly.

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LinkedIn Seen as Most Important SocNet

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roi research social network membership rankings jun11.thumbnail LinkedIn Seen as Most Important SocNetWhile 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 Behavior” 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.

Twitter (58%) and YouTube (55%) also had a higher percentage of online consumers ranking them as important. Interestingly, although MySpace is widely regarded as having lost significant importance to consumers in the last several years, its importance percentage tied Facebook’s (53%).

In 2010, only 41% of online consumers gave LinkedIn a four- or five-point importance rating, meaning this figure has grown 44% in one year. Twitter has grown 45% in this rating, from 40% to 58%. MySpace appears to be rebounding in perceived importance, as 39% of online consumers in 2010 but 53% in 2011 giving it a four- or five-point rating, a 36% increase.

Meanwhile, the percentage of consumers rating Facebook as important dropped 5% year-over-year, from 56% to 53%.

roi research social network frequency of visit jun11.thumbnail LinkedIn Seen as Most Important SocNetWhen it comes to engagement, Facebook is the unquestioned leader. Ninety-seven percent of online consumers visit Facebook at least weekly and 70% visit at least daily. These figures are close to double those of LinkedIn in terms of weekly visitation (50%) 3.5 times higher in terms of daily visitation (20%).

The only other social network with a visitation rate even close to one of Facebook’s is YouTube, with 86% of online consumers visiting at least once a week (11% lower rate).

Although both LinkedIn and MySpace saw significant improvement in the percentage of online consumers considering them important, both saw their visit frequency decline from 2010. In 2010, 67% of online consumers visited LinkedIn at least weekly, a figure that dropped 25%. Daily visits dropped 10%, from 22% to 20%.

Meanwhile, the percentage of online consumers visiting MySpace at least weekly dropped 41%, from 76% to 45%, and the percentage visiting at least daily dropped 44%, from 41% to 23%. Twitter’s daily visitation rate stayed flat at 44% but its weekly visitation rate declined 14%, from 81% to 70%.

Visitation figures for Facebook and YouTube underwent minimal changes.

Social networking category leader Facebook continued its momentum as it amassed millions of new users and people spent more and more of their time on the site during 2010, according to a February 2011 white paper from comScore. “The 2010 US Digital Year in Review” indicates that Facebook accounted for 10% of US page views in 2010, while three out of every 10 US internet sessions included a visit to the site.

Although MySpace maintained its hold on the number two ranking in the social networking category with 50 million visitors in December 2010, its audience declined 27% and total time spent on the site declined 50%.

LinkedIn emerged as the third-largest site in the category with 26.6 million visitors in December 2010 Meanwhile, number four Twitter climbed to 18% to 23.6 million visitors in December 2010 (not counting third-party app or mobile usage).

About the Data: In April 2011, ROI Research and Performics conducted an online survey of 2,997 consumers age 13 and older who access at least one social network regularly.

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Mobile SocNet Use Grows

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This year-over-year growth rate compares favorably with the growth rates of other leading mobile categories such as classifieds (55%), mobile retail (53%) and general reference (47%). It is also worth noting that social networking had the third-largest audience of leading mobile categories in December 2010, slightly trailing weather and approximately 10% less than personal email, which had an audience of more than 60 million and a 39% growth rate.

 Mobile SocNet Use GrowsAmong smartphone users, social networking usage was even more pronounced. In December 2010, 57.3% of smartphone users in the U.S. (36.2 million users) accessed social networking sites or blogs at least once during the month, an increase of about 24% from 46.1% the previous year.

European usage of social networking via smartphone also showed impressive growth, with 37.8% of smartphone users accessing social networking sites or blogs in the month (27.5 million users), up 91% from 14.4% the previous year.

 Mobile SocNet Use GrowsThe growth of social networking via mobile devices is mainly driven by Facebook, which reached 90% of US social media users and 85% of European users, and grew more than 120% during the past year in both regions.

YouTube and Twitter hold second and third position in the US as well as Europe, but the European market shows much stronger growth. In Europe, YouTube grew 95% between December 2009 and December 2010, and the number of mobile Twitter users grew 195%.

The most significant continental difference in 2010 is the trend for MySpace, which declined 20% in the US but gained 32% in Europe.

In December 2010, nearly 47% of mobile subscribers in the US were mobile media users (browsed the mobile web, accessed applications, downloaded content or accessed the mobile Internet via SMS), up about 17% from the previous year, according to other report data. Data from “The 2010 Mobile Year in Review” indicates the growth in mobile media usage is largely attributable to the growth in smartphone adoption, 3G/4G device ownership and the increasing ubiquity of unlimited data plans, all of which facilitate the consumption of mobile media.

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Younger See More SocNet Benefit

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For example, poll results indicate a majority of Echo Boomers (those 18-33) say they have received a positive suggestion for something to try from their activity on social media (59%), compared to 44% of Gen Xers (those 34-45), one-third of Baby Boomers (those 46-64) (34%), and just one in five Matures (those 65 and older) (19%).

Similarly, one-quarter of Echo Boomers have found a job opportunity through social media (24%), while only one in 10 Baby Boomers say the same (11%).

 Younger See More SocNet BenefitDespite all of the benefits people are receiving from their social media use, similar numbers say they have suffered negative consequences from this activity, such as the two in five social media users who say they have been offended by posts, comments or pictures they’ve seen (43%) and the quarter who say that unintended persons have viewed links or comments they’ve posted (26%).

Fewer social media users say they have suffered the more serious consequences of getting in trouble with school or work, or losing a potential job opportunity because of comments or pictures they posted online (7% for both).

Despite younger Americans receiving benefits from social media use more often than older adults, younger Americans also suffer the consequences of social media use at a greater rate. This may, in part, be due to younger Americans greater use of social media overall, which could expose them to both the benefits and consequences of what’s currently available.

 Younger See More SocNet BenefitSocial media networks are increasingly offering privacy settings to combat the negative experiences some users have already experienced, and to prevent others from taking place. When social media users were asked if potentially negative experiences can be prevented through the use of these privacy settings, more than three-quarters agreed that they can be (78%) with three in 10 strongly agreeing (28%).

 Younger See More SocNet BenefitIn addition, 71% of social media users are confident that their own privacy settings operate in the way they intend, but only one in five say they are very confident (18%). While a quarter of social media users are not confident in their privacy settings (25%), it seems that almost all social media users are at least trying to use these options for security assurance, as only 5% of social media users say they do not use any privacy settings at all.

Similarly to the other areas of social media explored, younger adults who use social media feel more strongly both that privacy settings can prevent negative consequences (82% of Echo Boomers say this, compared to 70% of Matures) and that they are confident in their own privacy settings (78% of Echo Boomers, compared to 61% of Baby Boomers).

While overall social networking use by online American adults has grown from 35% in 2008 to 61% in 2010, the increase is even more dramatic among older adults, according to new data from the Pew Research Center. In particular, the rate of online social networking approximately quadrupled among Older Boomers (9% to 43%) and the GI Generation (4% to 16%).

Despite the dramatic uptick in social networking among older adults, members of the Millennial generation still enjoy a healthy lead among all age groups in social network use, with 83% of online adults from 18-33 engaging in social networking. This increased about 24% from 67% in 2008.

Gen X has the second-highest social networking rate, 62%, up 73% from two years ago. The rate among Younger Boomers increased by a factor of 2.5, rising from 20% to 50%, while it tripled among the Silent Generation, going from 11% to 34%.

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SocNet Marketing Spending to Reach $38B by 2015

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advertising thumb SocNet Marketing Spending to Reach $38B by 2015Combined advertising and promotional spending will hit $38 billion by 2015, roughly 440% more than the $7 billion projected for 2010, according to a new white paper from Borrell Associates.

 SocNet Marketing Spending to Reach $38B by 2015
Breaking the combined social network marketing spending stream into advertising and promotional streams, “The Social Networking Explosion: Ad Revenue Outlook” projects that $5 billion of total $7 billion (about 71%) social network marketing spending in 2010 will consist of promotional expenditures.

From 2010 to 2015, social network promotional spending will grow about 380%. In 2011, it will grow 40% to $7 billion, and then slow down to about 14% growth in 2012, totaling $8 billion, However, social network promotional spending will then double to $16 billion in 2013, and continue rapid growth the next year, increasing 31% to $21 billion before slowing again with 12.5% growth to $24 billion in 2015.

Although Borrell data shows social network advertising spending will remain at lower levels than promotional spending through the next five years, the total growth rate will be an even higher 600%.

In 2011, social network ad spending will grow 200%, from $2 billion to $6 billion, putting it on close to an even keel with promotional spending. Ad spending will remain close to promotional spending in 2012, rising almost 17% to $7 billion.

However, in 2013, ad spending will once again lag behind promotional spending, growing a very healthy 43% to $10 billion. Growth will then continue at a still impressive 20% pace to $12 billion in 2014 and 17% pace to $14 billion in 2015.

Borrell analysis indicates the rapidly growing marketing spend in social networking is fueled by wildly climbing consumer use of social networking services. The paper cites data from comScore which says Facebook alone had more than 100 million unique visitors in the US last December, out of 400 million registered users worldwide.

The average Facebook visitor came to the site 27 times during that month, almost once a day. As of the end of 2009, one hour in every nine spent online was spent on a social network site. More than two-thirds of the nation’s largest businesses recruit new employees through social networks, and 13% more plan to start this year.

Asked to rate various technology tools on a scale of 1 to 7 (7 meaning extremely important and 1 not important at all), the average respondent to a recent Gartner study rated social networking tools at slightly more than 4. Social networking only ranked ahead of four other tools, all of which have a social media aspect: wikis, social tagging/bookmarking, web feeds and blogs.

Email was clearly ranked as most important, with an average score near 7. The only other tool to receive an average score of more than 6 was group calendars/scheduling. The top five tools were rounded out by web conferencing, team workspaces, and simple end-user tools.

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SocNet Viewing Most Increased Online Activity

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social networks small thumb SocNet Viewing Most Increased Online ActivityUS online adults were most likely to say they have increased their viewing of friends’ photos and information on social networks out of a wide variety of online activities during the past year, according to results of a new Harris Poll.

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About one-third (34%) of online US adults say they have increased their viewing of friends’ photos and information on social networks either significantly or somewhat in the past year. This was the highest percentage combined response for increasing any of the eight activities presented to respondents (multiple answers were accepted).

Reading newspapers/current events followed at a distant second with a combined 26% saying they have increased this online activity either significantly or somewhat in the past year. However, somewhat mitigating this low rate of increased online activity is an often lower rate of decreased online activity.

For example, only a combined 8% of online adults say they have decreased their viewing of friends’ photos and information on social networks either significantly or somewhat in the past year. A full 23% say this activity is not applicable and 34% say it has not changed.
Results are similar for most other activities, with the not changed rate of many hovering above 50%. Shopping had the highest combined rate of decrease (17%).

Interestingly, a leading 55% of respondents say posting information on their own blogs is not applicable, and 43% say posting or commenting on friends’ blogs is not applicable, reflecting the shrinking popularity of blogs among US online users.

 SocNet Viewing Most Increased Online Activity
Almost across the board, social media users, younger and better educated respondents are more likely to say they have increased an online activity in the past year. The difference between social media users and non-social media users is most pronounced in rates of viewing friends’ photos and information on social networks, posting and commenting information on friends’ or own blogs, and posting comments/reviews about brands, products or services.

Conversely, non-social media users were more likely than social media users to have increased reading newspapers/current events, the only online activity where they surpassed social media users.

Blogging, reading newspapers and review posting were the only areas where increase rates were not highest among 18-to-34-year-olds. Posting information on your own blog, reading newspapers and posting comments/reviews had the highest rates of increase among 35-to-44-year-olds, posting/commenting on friends’ blogs had the highest rate of increase among 45-to-54-year-olds.

While there was some variety among what age brackets were the second-most-likely to have increased an online activity, 55-plus respondents had the lowest response rate in any area except shopping, where their increase rate of 22% beat 45-to-54-year-olds (20%) and tied 35-to-44-year-olds.

Meanwhile, respondents with a high school education or less were the least likely to have increased all eight online activities. Those with a college degree or more had higher increase rates than those with some college in every activity except posting comments on friends’ blogs and posting reviews.

 SocNet Viewing Most Increased Online Activity
Only a combined 28% of online adults say they have used social media to rant or rave about a company, brand or product. However, a combined 80% of respondents agree strongly or somewhat they give up part of their privacy by participating in social media, and a combined 73% agree strongly or somewhat social media only reveals a snapshot, rather than a full portrait, of who they are.

Six in 10 (59%) of social network users say they feel more connected to people now than previously, according to another recent Harris Poll. That figure is highest among 18-to-34-year-olds (63%) and females (61%). Similar percentages (58% overall, 63% of 18-to-34-year-olds, 60% of females) say they keep in touch with friends more now than in the past.

Social network users say this even as majorities admit they recently have had less face-to-face contact with friends (55%) and know what’s going on with many of their friends and acquaintances, but don’t interact with them personally or individually (60%). Negative emotional impact of this loss of personal contact appears small, as only 32% of social network users feel lonelier now than previously.

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