By: Aaron Smith, Senior Research Specialist at Pew Internet and American Life Project
Two-thirds of online adults (66%) use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or LinkedIn. These internet users say that connections with family members and friends (both new and old) are a primary consideration in their adoption of social media tools. Roughly two thirds of social media users say that staying in touch with current friends and family members is a major reason they use these sites, while half say that connecting with old friends they’ve lost touch with is a major reason behind their use of these technologies.
Other factors play a much smaller role—14% of users say that connecting around a shared hobby or interest is a major reason they use social media, and 9% say that making new friends is equally important. Reading comments by public figures and finding potential romantic partners are cited as major factors by just 5% and 3% of social media users, respectively.
Other Key Findings:
- Connecting with public figures online is particularly popular among Twitter users. One in ten Twitter users (11%) say that reading comments by public figures such as celebrities or politicians is a major reason why they use social media, and 30% say it is a minor reason. Just 4% of non-Twitter users point to these connections as a major reason for their social media usage.
- Older users are more likely to view social networking sites as a way to connect around a hobby or interest. One in five social network users ages 50-64 (18%) cite connecting with others around common hobbies or interests is a major reason they use social networking sites, compared with one in ten users ages 18-29 (10%).
- Few social media users are there to seek romance. Just 3% of users say that finding potential romantic or dating partners is a “major reason” why they use these sites, and 84% say that this is “not a reason at all” for their social network usage.