American social media usage reaches milestone

Social media usage may have reached a tipping point, according to a new report from one of my favorite sources, The Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Fully 65% of adult internet users now say they use a social networking site like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, up from 61% one year ago. This marks the first time in Pew Internet surveys that 50% of all adults use social networking sites.

The frequency of social networking site usage among young adult internet users under age 30 was stable over the last year – 61% of online Americans in that age cohort now use social networking sites on a typical day, compared with 60% one year ago. However, among the Boomer-aged segment of internet users ages 50-64, social networking site usage on a typical day grew a significant 60% (from 20% to 32%).

“The graying of social networking sites continues, but the oldest users are still far less likely to be making regular use of these tools,” said Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist and co-author of the report. “While seniors are testing the waters, many Baby Boomers are beginning to make a trip to the social media pool part of their daily routine.”

In a separate question, when social networking users were asked for one word to describe their experiences using social networking sites, “good” was the most common response (above). Overall, positive responses far outweighed the negative and neutral words that were associated with social networking sites (more than half of the respondents used positive terms). Users repeatedly described their experiences as “fun,” “great,” “interesting” and “convenient.” Less common were superlatives such as “astounding,” “necessity,” and “empowering.”

“Social networking sites continue to cement their place as a significant part of mainstream online life,” said Kathryn Zickuhr, a Research Specialist and co-author of the report. “Even as some users find their experiences with social networking sites frustrating or overwhelming, most seem to view the services positively on the whole.”

Read or download the full report:

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  • I’m not sure how much we’re “tipping” here in Sweden. 

    Homework for a college class taking my Communications course last week ? Sign up for Twitter and tweet. 5 out of 25 completed the assignment. Some of them told me: “It’s too difficult.””What’s the point?””Why would I want to be on Twitter?” The copies of your book can’t arrive quickly enough :=)

  • There are positives and negatives about social media sites. Few say it is a good platform to waste your time and some say these sites are more beneficial for business growth. However, question may come up in mind; are these sites are really that much profitable to invest money & time?

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  • Too funny.  Hopefully help is on the way!!

  • Anonymous

    One of the values of social media is that it meets so many needs from both a personal and a business perspective…so, if you are looking for something strictly social on a personal level, people are becoming more drawn to all that social media offers…you can chat and engage and update statuses connecting with friends and family.    If you are a business trying to increase your visibility to potential customers, you can use those same social media platforms to create buzz and awareness….the power and potential of social media on all levels is just beginning to be realized in my opinion. 
    Thanks for a great post!

  • Looks like the 18-29 age group actually dropped off by 3%, and the only age group to actually have a drop off. Do you think this has any significance or just a fluke occurrence? I think that age group is usually at the forefront of adopting new technologies and joining new networks. Maybe it is a foreshadowing of things to come (although I highly, highly doubt it :)).

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  • Curiously, the detailed report did not expound on that data point, only referring to usage by that age group as “stable.”

  • Thanks for adding your perspective Claudia.

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  • Very interesting article,Mark.I think that business models are changing drastically as social marketing has moved to the forefront and the regular forms of advertising are so expensive and hard to track results. I,for one ,am working hard at mastering all the new technologies. One by one.

  •  Increase the numerous user on social networking sites from last 3-4 yrs. Ration is high of 18-29 age group.

  • Mark Schaefer

    Good observation Susan!

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