Based on the interesting comments on our post aboutTeacher Versus Student Perceptions of Social Media,” let’s re-visit the topic of demographics and social media use.

The infographic below is based on research by the Pew Research Center.

What do you think about the data reported here?



19 Replies to “Another Look at Demographics and Social Media Use”

  1. It is interesting to see the demographic based statistics regarding social media. It is easy to assume that age and usage of social media have an indirect relationship since the younger generations grew up with internet while the elders had to adapt to it. However the graphs above illustrate many statistics that aren’t as guessable. For example women are 20 percent more likely to use Pinterest then men. Pinterest is filled of pictures and creative ideas that girls use to inspire their creativity so I guess you can say that Pinterest is veered more towards the female population. Another statistic I find interesting is how people who live in the city are more likely to use twitter then suburban and rural residence. I could guess that this could stem from the face pace of the city lifestyle. Twitter is a extremely fast pace social media which is why urban residence might like it.

  2. First a note, then an explanation about why the note is important.

    Note: Under research industry guidelines, reports like this need to include the number of respondents, date of data collection and method of data collection.

    Why does that matter? If significance testing can be applied to these data (given it’s from Pew, that;s probably true), then some of the numbers on this chart are not statistically meaningful. Example: In the last panel, I suspect there is no actual difference in use of Instagram or Twitter by household income.

    However, I need to know the information listed above in order to make a definitive statement.

    By the way, why does the method matter? Simply, there is no complete list of internet users. No one has one. Google, Facebook and Link-In have duplicate accounts and accounts for dead people — if you’re bragging about numbers of users, the padding doesn’t hurt. Complete and accurate list? No.

    What we have are panels whose members represent less than 1% of the Internet user population in the US. Then if we look at panel performance, 80% of completed surveys are from less than 2% of panel members. Statistical significance testing requires random selection from the target population and that fundamentally doesn’t exist. Sampling variation doesn’t include sample bias and sample bias in an extreme case like this cannot be collected by weighting.

    For consumer surveys, most good stat textbooks refer to web surveys as convenience samples. No definitive statements about Web surveys can be made from convenience samples. (Harris Interactive has a very good cautionary statement that it includes in the methodology section of its reports.)

  3. This was a very interesting post because social media is a relatively new phenomenon and it clearly has made an impact on the majority of our society. When the topic was brought up in class that facebook was now for older people I don’t think we were saying we didn’t use facebook anymore but that we use it differently. I think our generation is less concerned with sharing things on facebook because we have found other platforms that our parents don’t use. Another thing I found interesting about this post was the large difference between urban twitter users and rural twitter users. I’m not sure what the cause of that might be. Maybe it’s that, there are more people in our area therefore we believe that these people care about what were doing because they might be doing something similar? Lastly I thought the fact that pinterest attracts more educated women was very fascinating because my boss where I intern told me the other day that we get the most users though pinterest. When she told me this I thought “oh how strange I wonder why” and I guess it makes sense because our demographic is professional women in there 30s. Overall this was a really cool post to read because it relates to my everyday life and I am constantly on social media for my job.

  4. I think this post has a lot of interesting information. I always use social media, and I was really interested in who uses what. Since the major I chose will be using social media all the time, I thought that this is important to know for now. I was surprised in the jump in percentages 50-64 year old social media users to 65+. To me at least 20 percent is a lot, but I feel as the 50-64 year old demographic ages, the increase in 65+ demographic will grow in social media usage. Seeing these charts, I don’t only see what’s the demographics now, but what they can become in the future. I didn’t find ‘women use Pinterest more than men’ surprising, but what was interesting was that higher educated women use it more than less educated women. Another surprising demographic trend that I didn’t know about was there are more women on facebook than men. Before reading this, I thought that it would be closer to a 50/50.

  5. I expect to see an increase in the amount of Twitter use as time progresses. Twitter is one of the most influential tools the internet has ever birthed. As a Journalism major, I have learned and worked with Twitter in ways I didn’t think were possible.

    First off, Twitter is becoming more and more of a journalism need. Professionals without Twitter accounts lag behind those who do because Twitter is becoming a tool for breaking news. Social media as a whole is the number one source for updated information.

    Because Twitter is such a successful way of broadcasting information to a large audience, I think it will become increasingly popular.

  6. Wow I loved this! It’s so interesting to see it all categorized out like this! I found the urbanity chart interesting! People who live in more populated areas probably feel the need to remain more in the know at all times than those who live in rural areas. Twitter users are constantly receiving shared information almost every minute of every day! Another interesting point was that educated and affluent women are more likely to use Pinterest. It allows them to share their creative ideas with other women who are more likely to be inspired to buy the items. However I think Twitter will continue to increase its popularity because it appeals to a wider range of users: both male and female, and all age ranges.

  7. First off I’m interested in seeing whether or not these stats are changed because of the fact that Facebook has been around much longer than a majority of the other social media sites and possibly it’s longevity would have a greater effect. Also it would be interesting to see whether or not the numbers for instagram are effected because it is a lot easier to access this social media site on a smart phone as opposed to a computer, and not ever person has access to a smart phone for Instagram as they do for Twitter and Facebook. That being said I loved the stats that they put out here, and I think I notice some of the same trends that I’ve seen in my own friends and family when it comes to these sites.

    One that was curious to me was the lack of twitter use for rural communities. I felt like it would actually be the opposite because you would think that out in rural communities there is less access to news and entertainment features than in urban centers, and because of that people would be way more inclined to use twitter and enjoy it’s benefits.

    None the less a very interesting article!

  8. I think this blog post is incredibly interested and relevant. I am not surprised to find that Pinterest targets more women than men because it a site typically used to gain fashion advice, recipes, and craft tips, activities usually done by women. I am surprised to find that Facebook use declines with age more rapidly than more other social media sites. This is interesting because our last blog post illustrated the increased use of Facebook among the older generation. Additionally, I am very surprised to find that Instagram is more likely to be used by Blacks and Hispanics that by Whites. Twitter is also more popular among Blacks and Hispanics. I find this data to be incredibly interesting because it shows us how social media sites target different segments of the population that we might not have considered before.

  9. The most important piece of data to take away from this infographic includes everything relating to Pinterest. All of the traditional trends amongst other social media networks, including age, gender, education of users, and popularity in urban vs. rural settings are the opposite for Pinterest. For example, Pinterest is more popular in the 30-49 year old age category than the 18-29 year olds; the only social network to see an upward shift in popularity comparatively to an older age group. The gender of users also is the most dramatic different amongst Pinterest users; 25% of all females vs. 5% of all males. Additionally, while all other social networks grow increasingly more popular from rural, to suburban, and to urban settings: Pinterest does the opposite: 13% from Urban, 16% from Suburban, then 18% from Rural. Evidently, Pinterest interest grows the further you are from an urban sprawl. Finally, the user base of Pinterest is highest amongst college grads, unlike other social networks who rank highest among the “some college” category. Pinterest grows increasing popular throughout the ranks of educational achievement, up from 11% being high school grads, topping off at 20% being college grads. Thus, from this information, we can conclude that the core segment of Pinterest users includes females aged 30-49 years old in rural settings who have attained a college degree.

    1. Pinterest has recently (earlier this month) changed policies for notifications, focusing on paid advertising rather than postings by other users. I suspect that this will cause a dramatic change in use levels and possibly also in demographics.

  10. I am more interested in the area that talks about ages that use social networking. I find it interesting how a few years ago, social networking like facebook, twitter, etc… were solely used by people in their early adulthood. Now when you look at the statistics, it shows that social networking is still used by a great number of people of any age, and probably hasn’t changed much for the earlier ages. People always say that “my generation” is the technological generation, and that it only effects us, but as you can see, it is clearly reflecting on many of the older generations, showing that it has become a social norm between everyone, not just those in their teens or 20’s. Businesses even use social networking as a part of their daily routine, meaning that as the years go by, every age group has to conform to this technological era, otherwise they will miss out on what is going on in the world that newspapers or word of mouth may not mention anymore.

  11. I’m not surprised that Facebook is the largest social media used across the board regardless of gender and race/ethnicity. All other statistics were accurate as well. People in urban areas probably have more going on than those living in rural areas, and thus probably have a lot more to tweet about. An interesting note to take away from these statistics are those regarding Pinterest. It is no surprise that many more women than men use Pinterst but it is interesting that Pinterest has the same amount of interest in the age groups of 18-29 and 30-49. It is the only social media that doesn’t show a notable decline in users once the age group changes. Pinterest also does not follow the trend that social medias are more popular in urban areas. Use of Pinterest in rural areas is 18% as opposed to urban areas at 13%. As to why this is, I am not sure, but Pinterest is, among providing some sinfully delicious brownie recipes, breaking the mold of a traditional social media.

  12. I always find infographics relating to social media to be interesting. In this particular one, most of the results were not surprising to me at all. Those who lived in urban areas tend to always be more active and use all the forms of social media more than those who live in rural or suburban areas. The younger generations of individuals are usually the ones who use the social media sites the most. After the 18-29 year old age group the user activity decreases. The only exception to this statement according to this particular infographic is Pinterest, which stays the same from the 18-29 age group to the 30-49 group. As for Pinterest, women tend to use the site much more often than men. Which is understandable because women love to browse around and “pin” items and things they want, but may not necessarily ever go back and purchase. They pin items to boards as wish lists. Most men on the other hand, don’t enjoy browsing and pinning as much as some women (including myself) love to do. The male users on Pinterest are more likely to go on a site like this and “pin” items they will eventually go back and buy. I found the rest of the data very interesting since the makers of this infographic got really specific with the types of information, breaking down social media site users to ethnicity, education levels, and household incomes per year.

  13. The statistics shown here actually surprised me. I was first surprised to see that there was not a steady progression of total users of social media depending on education and income level. I did notice though that people in higher income jobs used Facebook as their main source of social media. This may be because people now feel that it is quicker to communicate with co-workers through a social media site rather than emails. What did not surprise me was that women used social media sites more than men. I pretty much figured that already. The fact that rural areas only had 61% of people using social media both surprised me and did not surprise me at the same time. First, I was thrown for a loop because I figured that if someone was in a rural area, he or she would want to communicate with more people. Social media is a great way to do that. I thought that rural teens would be more likely than urban and suburban teens to use sites like Facebook more frequently. However, I was not surprised at the same time. If you look at the situations both ways, rural kids would not have time to use social media or some don’t even own a computer. This demographic study put a lot about social media into perspective for me.

  14. Im not so surprised that women use social media more than men. I feel that women like to express feeling more than men and a lot of times social media networks allow feelings and opinions to be spread and can also be a source of attention for them. I was also surprised that so many older people above there 30’s are using social networks. in 50 to 64 more than 50% are using social networks, this was a shock to me. Most people in my family can not even turn a computer on if they are over 60 and some of them have no desire to even learn how to. The results that college students use most of the networks wasn’t a surprise to me, because I feel like more networks are targeted at that age group.

    1. Let’s try a series of hypotheses. Let me know what you think.
      (1) Pinterest is easy. A good portion of content is devoted to traditionally female topics including cooking, home decorating, kids and wedding aspirations. (Frankly, I was on there and found a great collection of historical pictures that I had never seen, but it took some digging to do that.) H1: Have female oriented content, get mostly female users.
      (2) In the words of one teen: “I only post on Facebook what I want my mother to see.” H2: Teens move to Instagram because adults aren’t there. Parents, mostly mothers, follow to see what they are doing.
      (3) H3: Internet use is proportional to free time. Students, the unemployed and oldsters are in that category.

      When you do web surveys, your sample will be skewed toward heavy internet users. That’s not hypothesis; I’ve seen data documenting it.

      The Pew study was conducted by phone.

  15. Pretty much everyone loves info-graphics. They are a great way to disseminate information which in any other form can be very boring and dense. I really found it interesting to read these statistics. While none of these stats were real shockers to me it is nice to have more concrete numbers with their respective social networks.

  16. I’m not too surprised by most of these statistics but I was intrigued by Pinterest’s demographics. Although it’s not shocking that mainly women use it, it’s a shocker that ages between 19 and 24 aren;t the highest users, that ages 30 to 49 are. The Pinterest statistics are the opposite of other social media statistics and it’s really interesting.

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