Social Media Research

11 Shocking New Social Media Statistics in America

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Jay Baer Blog PostYou think social media is reaching maturity, and the whipsaw behavioral shifts that change like a Dwight Howard trade request are things of the past? Uhhh, no. Released yesterday at Blogworld New York, findings from social media behavioral researcher Tom Webster and the team at Edison Research show some shocking changes in how Americans use and consume social media. You can access the entire presentation at The Social Habit microsite, but 11 social media statistics in particular stood out for me. Two quick notes: This is not data dredging. This is real, random sample, tightly controlled research from the same company that is the exclusive provider of Presidential exit polls in the USA. This is the last time the entire research from Edison will be released for free. It’s just too valuable to be given away wholesale – considering it costs tens of thousands of dollars to produce. But, you can get exclusive access to the Social Habit research when it’s refreshed and expanded in early Fall. Sign up now for a sneak peek. And if you’re interested in including a question about your company or a category of social media usage of particular interest to your organization, that may be an option (click for details, fees apply). I’m partnering with Edison Research, Jason Falls, and Mark Schaefer

Social Media Statistics Twitter Users Lean Towards teh Democratic Party

Click on chart to access entire Social Habit report

1. Twitter users are 33% more likely to be Democrats

An interesting finding, and representative of the type of custom queries we can answer for you in the next round of the Social Habit, this edition found that 40% of Twitter users are Democrats, compared to 30% of the U.S. population overall.The percentage of Republications and Independents on Twitter mirrors the U.S. average almost precisely.

2. The “Check-in” is the phenomenon that never happened

74% of Americans are unfamiliar with the concept of checking in to a location via mobile device, and only 3% have ever checked in. Even more damning, is that 4% had checked in when surveyed in 2011. This is a 25% decrease in check in behaviors in a single year. It’s not going to rebound, which is why Foursquare’s play is to be the new Yelp.

3. Only 33% of Americans have ever followed a brand in social media

From 2010 to 2012 the percentage of Americans following any brand on a social network has gone from 16% to 33%. This is a sharp increase, but looked at from the opposite perspective, it’s shocking to me that 2/3 of Americans using social networks have never followed a brand.Companies still have substantial room for growth in connecting with customers and fans on social networks.

4. 56% of Americans have a profile on a social networking site

This is up from 52% just last year, and 48% in 2010. How high can this climb? Certainly, there are sizable chunks of the populace that will never join a social networking site, but it’s amazing to consider that significantly more Americans (12 years old and up) have a social networking profile than do not.

Social Media Statistics 45 to 54 year old users

Click chart to download entire report

5. 55% of Americans 45-54 have a profile on a social networking site

It’s not just for kids any more. The biggest growth of any age cohort from 2011 to 2012 was 45-54 year olds, who now exhibit participation matching the U.S. average. The only group that is below average are 55+ Americans, and even 3 out of 10 of them are in the social networking game.

6. 22% of Americans use social networking sites several times per day

It really is a “Social Habit”. In the past year, 12 million more Americans are using social networking many times daily.How many other things do we do several times per day? It’s not a long list.

7. Huge uptick in Facebook’s influence on purchase

Last year, 68% of Americans using social networks said that none of those networks had an influence on their buying decisions. This year, just 36% said that there was no influence. Now, 47% say Facebook has the greatest impact on purchase behavior(compared to just 24% in 2011). Incidentally, Twitter ranks below “other” at 5%. If you want to drive purchase behaviors within social networks, Facebook is the one and only game to play, statistically speaking.

8. Facebook via mobile continues to be a major factor

54% of Facebook members have used the social network via a phone, and 33% use a phone as their primary way to access Facebook. This despite the fact that the Facebook mobile experience and mobile apps are mediocre, at best. Here’s hoping the Instagram guys can jump start it. If so, watch for these numbers to soar.

Social Media Statistics 22 percent of Americans have social habit

Click the chart to download entire report

9. Facebook is the most addicting of the social networks

23% of Facebook’s users check their account five or more times EVERY DAY. The mean number of daily look-ins by Facebook users is 4. Are we really so interesting that we have to keep up with our friends’ inanities every 90 minutes? Evidently, yes.

10. Twitter will have an easier time making changes to its core service that Facebook does.

53% of Twitter users have been a member for less than a year, compared to just 19% for Facebook. This means that Twitter’s user base doesn’t have long-term, deep seated expectations for what Twitter is or should be. It will be interesting to see if Twitter doubles down on this advantage, and continues to hang ornaments on the functionality Christmas tree.

11. 76% of Twitter users now post status updates

This is one of the biggest behavioral changes of the past two years. In 2010, the Social Habit research found that just 47% of Twitter users actually sent tweets, with more than half the user base in listen-only mode. The overwhelming majority of new Twitter users are active tweeters, driving the overall average to 76%.   In the next edition of The Social Habit, we’ll be looking at YouTube, social video, Pinterest, Instagram, and more. Plus, if you’ve got questions you’d like to ask thousands of Americans via the best social media research methodology available, let’s talk. Get on the list for The Social Habit now. Which of these 11 is the most shocking social media statistic? I’ll go with #7 and #11. You?

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Facebook Comments


  1. Doug Cohen says

    I am surprised at number 3 that over half of the 45-54 crowd has a profile, but I’m most shocked that the percentage of people checking in has decreased.  I can’t believe that and I disagree that it isn’t going to grow exponentially especially on foursquare.  Just my opinion though.  I don’t have research to back that up – just my perception.  :-)

    • says

       @Doug Cohen I think Foursquare has a future. Not sure about the mechanics of “checking in” however. Not sure there’s enough upside for people to drive mass adoption. 

      • says

         @JayBaer  @Doug Cohen Believe it or not, for someone as “social” as me, I’ve never once – EVER – used a check-in service. I understand the value from a marketing perspective, but have always found it a bit over the top … as in … who cares where I am at this very moment?
        I’m not surprised that LBS are on the slide. Any thoughts about what the LBS future may look like, @JayBaer ?

        • Doug Cohen says

           @djwaldow  @JayBaer djwaldow you are totally missing out – you need to get with the cool kids!  Ha – okay just giving you a hard time but let me explain why I like foursquare…   I don’t use foursquare because I am such a narcissist that I think everyone is dying to know where I am at the moment, but rather I think it’s fun and valuable for several reasons.  1) I like to promote the places I like (to Jay’s point about foursquare’s Yelpish play) and foursquare is a perfect way to do it.  My foursquare friends see where I am and what I like and vice versa.  Good for reviews and tips.  2) It’s just plain fun – like a scavenger hunt where you can collect badges for different types of check-ins and you DO NOT have to share any check in anywhere publicly if you don’t like.  You have total control just like all social media platforms.  Different types of check-ins get more points than others and you can become the “mayor” of a place which is pretty funny.  You can compete with your friends on the point leaderboard.  3) These types of services can be social to the extreme and I’m a social guy by nature – we were at Costco the other day so I checked in and got extra points for checking in “with a friend” because my friend Jodi was there and had checked in too.  We texted her and met up for a quick hello.  Costco is a big place – we might not have seen her otherwise.  Would it have been a tragedy if we didn’t know she was there?  No.  Are we going to cure cancer with the knowledge that Jodi was at Costco?  No.  Was it pretty cool and fun?  Totally.  People can congregate in a similar fashion with hashtags on twitter sure, but those are more planned, a foursquare meet up can happen as a pleasant surprise.  I think it would be cool if you are just looking for something to do so you go to Royal Oak or Birmingham where people will be hanging out on a nice day and see who is around by taking a look at foursquare…  4) Yes – the marketing play.  The “foursquare specials nearby” have drawn me in as a consumer for deals and discounts if I’m hanging out in an urban area with a bunch of businesses in a condensed area.  For retail and high volume businesses coupons and foursquare deals can be effective. I just find more and more of my friends are using foursquare overall which was why I was surprised to see the stats that show checking in has decreased.   

  2. says

    I agree that #7 is the most shocking. I thought that selling things to people on Facebook was like selling to your friends at a bar. But it appears that the idea of friends influencing friends behavior overrides all. 

    • says

      Seems to be. Although amazing how dominant Facebook is in social commerce. No other social network is even on the same radar screen. 

  3. NandoJourneyman says

    #11, “The overwhelming majority of new Twitter users are active tweeters, driving the overall average to 76%”. This is a major shift toward mainstream in Twitter.

    • says

      Definitely. I wrote a post a long time ago called “Why Twitter Needs Its Bottom Spanked” about how hard it was to be a new user on Twitter. Very hard to get rolling and get comfortable. They’ve fixed a lot of those deficiencies, and the community is a lot easier to jump into now. 

      • NandoJourneyman says

        @JayBaer I would add that usage is now probably at a tipping point from Early Adopters to Early Majority. Pew Research got a 15% (+/-2.7 ) on the question of Twitter use on a typical day. This could mean Twitter may be turning into a practical alternative to mainstream users. I’ve personally used it mostly to keep informed about , and connected with, my industry (online marketing), but now ma starting to feel it may become an important asset for internet marketing strategies outside the traditional dominating (mostly tech) industries there.Great stuff, I’ve been waiting for this report for months now. 

  4. says

    Thanks for sharing, Jay. I agree that #11 is most enlightening, but I’m also surprised at #9 and that the number of Facebook users accessing it primarily via mobile is so low.

    • says

       @TedWeismann Really? I thought it was a lot of mobile-primary accessers, considering Facebook on mobile is half an experience, at best. 

  5. says

    Re “Only 33% follow Brands on Social Media”
    Not surprising. People use social media to get away from advertisers who inundate them in every other sphere.  The only way for Brands to connect, is to offer value, be more honest, open, transparent and engaged…maybe then.

  6. JackDorso says

    Of course Twitter users are more likely to be Dems. Its hard for them to pay attention past 140 characters.

  7. says

    Frankly, many of them jump out at me, but #6 REALLY does. 22% is a HUGE number. The only thing I can think of off the top of my head that more people check every day is …
    Ha. You knew I’d say that, right?
    Great stuff, Jay. Thanks for breaking it all down for us.

  8. drewbeechler says

    Number 6 is not too shocking I feel, but definitely one of the most notable. My Marketing Research team for a class at Anderson University in Indiana conducted similar research to learn how the undergraduate students (age 18-24) in our business school used and engaged with social media. What was amazing was that 84.2% of those surveyed who said they used Facebook, used it multiple times daily. 62% of those that used Twitter used it multiple times daily. It was extremely eyeopening. I think it would be worth noting a difference in age groups and frequency of use. That information would be invaluable to marketers, advertisers, and brands trying to engage on social media. Great stuff. I’m excited to see the future of research like this.

    • says

       @drewbeechler In the next version of the survey, paying customers will have access to the ACTUAL data via .csv, so you can run the type of cross-tabs you mention. Might be a good resource for your class?

  9. says

    A nice NYT article on discussing how Foursquare is aiming to be more Yelp-like: /cc @Doug Cohen 

  10. NickyKriel says

    The statistic that made the biggest impression is the the percentage of Twitter users who post updates.  I have been watching the figures for a couple of years and  have always been dismayed by the low percentage of active users.

  11. triskeleweb1 says

    #7. the uptick on Facebook, given a report about a Reuters/Ipsos poll that says 4 out of 5 people say they’ve never bought a product based on a Facebook ad or comments. Not sure what to believe.

    • DrDiddy86 says

       @triskeleweb1 I’m curious about the methodology behind the stats cited in this as well. I’m not saying that they aren’t accurate, I just would like to know how this data was gathered. 

      • says

         @DrDiddy86  @triskeleweb1 As I mentioned to @freelancewebdesign , the methodology is very very sound. I think you’ll see it when you download the full report. Edison Research are the same guys responsible for exit polling for all major elections. They don’t mess around!

    • says

       @triskeleweb1 The Reuter poll included people that don’t use Facebook at all in that question, so that will skew it somewhat, for sure. 

    • c williams says

       @triskeleweb1 remember, the remaining 1 out of 5 is 20% of the audience.  Thats roughly 60million or so who, in fact, HAVE done so.  Not to be underestimated either way. 

  12. says

    Who are those respondents and responsible for these analysis and statistics?  I agree with the term Social Habit, but I just wonder, how come only 22% Americans uses social media? It should have been more than 30% of adults, Isn’t it?

    • tmscherbel says

       @freelancewebdesign I believe it said 22% of Americans use social media multiple times a day. As previously mentioned on #4 56% of Americans have a profile on a social media site.

  13. TrollQueen says

    The “Republications” could do well to stay away from the grammar Nazis. #Justsayin

  14. says

    Thanks for hot and useful statistic! as to #5 all age category are growing up except 18-24. Is it the top % for them?

  15. says

    Hi Jay,
    I found #11 very interesting. I am hopeful this is a signal that more real “live” people are updating their status on Twitter. Yet, is it possible this upward trend is more a product of the countless ‘bot accounts that continue to proliferate on the site?
    Dean Guadagni

  16. Lindsay Auer says

    I find #2 shocking.  My circle of friends and family check-in regularly on Foursquare – they can’t seem to get enough of it.  Perhaps they find this useful, since they link their FourSquare accounts to Twitter and it ensures a constant news stream?

  17. LauraFammy says

    I’ve always thought that checking in was kind of pointless. It’s a bit of work to pull out your phone every time you enter a new place. Whatever, I just use that new network because I actually get something from it lol.

  18. LauraFammy says

    I’ve always thought that checking in was kind of pointless. It’s a bit of work to pull out your phone every time you enter a new place. Whatever, I just use that new network because I actually get something from it lol.

  19. farrahhcollins says

    If your’e into social media, check this out, pretty cool.

  20. says

    Good article. I appreciate it. Anyway, I need to know the behavior of NYC peoples on social media’s. Can you give me a list of mostly used social media of New York people?

  21. Tanjum Kamboj says

    hey being an Indian citizen m shocked to see d above statistics… m wondering for gratification perspective of social media in respect of users of any age group

  22. Joe Schmucatelli says

    Wow – the stats! where are they from. Can i trust them. Twitter is all democrats – the statement is good for a healthy laugh. Personally i would never buy somthing due to an add on a social website – but hey i don’t follow TV advertisements either. Sheepishly i wonder what makes people buy – because Zuckeberg likes it? Heil Zuckerberg

  23. Agent Orange says

    A study on how social media has contributed to the devolution of written language would be interesting. Guess I better put one together? Uh…

  24. Mitch says

    Can we get some sources on these statistics, so they can be used for more than just an interesting read?