October 4, 2015

New Report From Pew Internet: Why Americans Use Social Media

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By: Aaron Smith, Senior Research Specialist at Pew Internet and American Life Project

From the Overview:

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.

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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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