Increased Social Media Usage Comes as Users Age

With nearly one-half, 47%, of US adults using at least one social media site, there has been a change in the demographic makeup of the typical user. While the number of people engaging in social media sites has nearly doubled over the past two years, those new to the scene come from older age groups and bring a unique set of psychographic characteristics to the mix.

According to Pew Research, in 2008 just 26% of US adults said they used at least one social networking site. Just two years later that number has jumped to 47%. Among online adults, the number has jumped from 34% using social media to 59%.

Social media is not a child’s game either. The average age of adults using social media is also climbing. In 2008, the average age was 33, as of November 2010 that number had climbed to 38 years of age. Women also make up the majority of social networking users.

Interestingly, each of the four major social networking sites – Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter – has a unique audience profile. Specific demographic facts relating to each network include:

  • Facebook: 50% of users are 36+; 52% of users engage daily
  • MySpace: Youngest overall profile among the four major platforms.
  • LinkedIn: 63% male vs. 37% female; 56% of users are 36+; 65% have at least one university degree
  • Twitter: 41% of users are 36+; 33% of users engage daily

Age distribution by social networking site

With 92% of social networking usage coming from Facebook, it is valuable to look at what those users are doing on a typical day. The most common activity among Facebook users is to “Like” another user’s content. The second and third most popular activities are commenting on another’s post or status and commenting on another user’s photos, respectively.

While updating status falls third on the list, it is valuable to examine how frequently status updates occur. This chart provides an in depth look at Facebook status updates.

Frequency of Facebook status updates by age

Additionally, Pew Research shows that Internet users tend to be more trusting than non-users with 46% of Internet users saying that “most people can be trusted” compared to 27% of non-users.

Those who agree that "most people can be trusted" by their tech use

Pew Research also shows that Facebook and LinkedIn users are the most likely to be politically engaged and likely to vote. 79% of LinkedIn users responded that they did or intended to vote and active Facebook users are 43% more likely to have said they would vote. Comparatively MySpace users are the least politically active.

Levels of political participation by social networking site

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