Social Media Research

9 Surprising New Facts About Social Media in America

Youtility Cover transparent1 e1365439705647 9 Surprising New Facts About Social Media in America

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Social media is growing up fast. No longer a niche plaything of the digerati, social media is firmly entrenched as a societal game changer of historical importance. For many, social media and social networking are so ubiquitous and pervasive that we presume we have it figured out, that we have a finger firmly on the pulse. But we don’t. Data about how social media really works, who uses it and how, continues to surprise.

This point was driven home in The Social Habit II, a new report from Edison Research and Arbitron that follows up on their landmark study in 2010 (and their 19th study about the Internet overall).

My friend and the architect of the study, Tom Webster, was kind enough to give me a preview of the report (I also very much recommend Tom’s blog BrandSavant), and here are my personal highlights – the pages that made me say “hmmmm”.

I encourage you to peruse the entire report, which you can access for free in a day or so. Tweet me or Tom (@webby2001) to get the URL. It’s a 50+ page orgy of data based on 2,020 telephone interviews of Americans ages 12 and up, conducted in February, 2011.

9 Surprising New Facts About Social Media in America

1. More People Are Active on Social Networks Than Are Not
52% of Americans have a profile on Facebook, Linkedin, MySpace or elsewhere. This may be a tipping point for social adoption overall.

2. Twitter is a Tiny Sliver
As discussed in “Is Twitter Massively Overrated” a few weeks ago, Twitter’s cultural impact is not driven by the size of its user base, but by its real-time nature, and the types of people who use it. Twitter is used by just 8% of Americans (compared to 51% for Facebook).

The Social Habit 2011 by Edison Research.pdf page 19 of 53 9 Surprising New Facts About Social Media in America 3. Twitter is Incredibly Diverse
Just 55% of Twitter uses are White, followed by 22% African-American, 15% Hispanic, and 3% Asian. This is of course substantially more diverse than the population overall, and markedly more diverse than Facebook. I have read that African-Americans use the mobile Web at a much higher rate than the population at-large, and given the propensity of Twitter users to participate via mobile device, I wonder if that’s part of the correlation? Or perhaps I’m confusing cause and effect? Either way, I found it to be a very interesting statistic.

4. The Emergence of the Super Socials
One-third of Americans with a profile on a social network, use those sites several times per day or more. This group of “super socials” (my label, not Edison’s) numbers 46 million, and increase of almost 20% in one year.

The Social Habit 2011 by Edison Research.pdf page 28 of 53 9 Surprising New Facts About Social Media in America 5. Super Socials Love Twitter
Partially an explanation of Twitter’s popularity and role in the culture despite it’s relatively small user base, 23% of the “super socials” use Twitter, which is almost triple the rate of Americans overall. (98% of super socials use Facebook, and 45% use MySpace)

6. Super Socials use and Worship their Smartphones
56% of the super socials use smartphones, compared to 31% of the U.S. population surveyed; and when presented the choice of abandoning their smartphone or television, 64% of super socials would choose to keep the phone.

7. Super Socials Interact with Brands
Among habitual social networkers, 43% follow companies on social networks, compared to just 25% of all social network users.

The Social Habit 2011 by Edison Research.pdf page 48 of 53 9 Surprising New Facts About Social Media in America 8. Brand Interactions Occur Predominately on Facebook
Among the 25% of respondents that have followed a company in social media, 80% have done so via Facebook. Just 6% have done so on Twitter. This raises an interesting question about companies’ efforts to attract followers on Twitter vs. similar efforts to acquire “likes” on Facebook. Based on this data, it would seem that consumers are perhaps most interested in that type of interaction via Facebook, reserving Twitter for customer service issues (as other research has suggested, most notably from ExactTarget – a client).

9. Facebook is Where Consumers are Influenced about Buying Decisions
72% of respondents said that no social network has influenced their purchase of products and services. Personally, I doubt the veracity of that statistic, as people routinely overlook the subtle ways in which their friends and family (to whom they are probably connected on Facebook and elsewhere) influence their purchases. However, among the survey participants who acknowledged social media’s role in this regard, they cited Facebook overwhelmingly as the source of that influence.

Which of these strikes you as the most interesting? What do you take away from these findings?

Related
  • Elias_Shams

    Social media is here to stay for good. Given vast variety of the existing channels to choose and stick with, it’s time for such a hot space to enter into a new category.There is a need for a portal to provide a quick and intelligent decision for both the consumer and the enterprise about their online connections. A Platform to Help us to Distinguish Our Quality vs. Quantity Friends, Fans, Followers, and Companies.Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Flickr and others have been doing a decent job of providing additional marketing exposure and even in some cases, additional revenue. However, as more and more social networking sites pop up, the task of picking the right channel getting more challenging.This reminds me of the early 90’s when WWW was adopted broadly by the general public. Every company rushed to have a presence, to the point it became literally impossible to find the right information on the Web. That’s when yahoo and google where born and helped us find the most relevant information by just typing simple keywords.Then came Web 1.0 & 2.0 – Youtube, Flickr, myspace, Facebook, Twitter and countless others have turned everyday people into content producers, influencers and experts. We basically tripled down on the information overload How do you know which channels to select for deploying your social media strategy?That is why I built awesomize.me to accomplish such a mission – the portal to all your existing social media channels.EliasCEO & Founderhttp://awesomize.me

  • danielfowler

    Just glance at the trending topics on Twitter and the ethnicity of those that are trending them, and you know it’s a diverse space.

    I would dispute your assertion that 6% of respondents having followed a company on Twitter is surprising (you didn’t actually say it’s surprising, but your tone implied it). Here’s why:

    Where does the 8% of Americans being on Twitter stat come from? Assume it’s a very simple proportion of [# of Twitter accounts] -to- [total American population] and you have a flawed metric. You’d have to factor in the number of abandoned accounts, “marketing value” accounts (those accounts that people snag because they are buzz words), and the reality that people (and companies) have multiple Twitter accounts (for example: how many Justin Bieber Fan Club accounts exist? Those people all have a separate personal accounts, for sure).

    If the 8% came from these 2,020 interviews, then I would say how many would-be interviewees turned down the survey? Chances are good they are not on Twitter. So if they got 2K respondents out of 4K phone calls (which I feel like is optimistic), then you can reduce that stat by 50%, assume that only 4% of Americans are on Twitter and nevermind all the other stuff I said. You get the idea….

    But let’s be honest… these studies can hardly be considered accurate. Why? Basic math: 2,020 interviews divided by 300+ Million Americans = 0.00067% snapshot of the population. No thanks, I think I’ll stick to my crazy accurate gut instincts. :P

  • danielfowler

    Just glance at the trending topics on Twitter and the ethnicity of those that are trending them, and you know it’s a diverse space.

    I would dispute your assertion that 6% of respondents having followed a company on Twitter is surprising (you didn’t actually say it’s surprising, but your tone implied it). Here’s why:

    Where does the 8% of Americans being on Twitter stat come from? Assume it’s a very simple proportion of [# of Twitter accounts] -to- [total American population] and you have a flawed metric. You’d have to factor in the number of abandoned accounts, “marketing value” accounts (those accounts that people snag because they are buzz words), and the reality that people (and companies) have multiple Twitter accounts (for example: how many Justin Bieber Fan Club accounts exist? Those people all have a separate personal accounts, for sure).

    If the 8% came from these 2,020 interviews, then I would say how many would-be interviewees turned down the survey? Chances are good they are not on Twitter. So if they got 2K respondents out of 4K phone calls (which I feel like is optimistic), then you can reduce that stat by 50%, assume that only 4% of Americans are on Twitter and nevermind all the other stuff I said. You get the idea….

    But let’s be honest… these studies can hardly be considered accurate. Why? Basic math: 2,020 interviews divided by 300+ Million Americans = 0.00067% snapshot of the population. No thanks, I think I’ll stick to my crazy accurate gut instincts. :P

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