Friday, June 17, 2011

Adults Dominate as U.S. Social Networking Rises

Forty-seven percent of all social-networking users in the U.S. are adults over age 35, while just 16 percent are ages 16 to 22, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The research center Relevant Products/Services reported that social-networking activities have nearly doubled since 2008 by attracting older users.

What's more, the amount of time users devote to social networking has grown dramatically. Users spend an average of 16.6 percent of their online time at social-networking sites, up from 8.3 percent in 2007, noted Andrew Lipsman, senior director of marketing and industry analysis at comScore.

Though the increase in time is no big surprise, what's very interesting is the rapidly changing dynamics of the market, Lipsman observed. "For a long time, the social-networking story was almost exclusively the horse race between Facebook and MySpace," he wrote in a blog. "Tumblr is clearly experiencing a viral adoption curve right now."

On a Roll

Tumblr may be nearing the critical-mass threshold that has propelled other social-media sites to more widespread adoption, Lipsman noted. "It still has a ways to go before we can mention it in the same breath as LinkedIn or Twitter, but it just might get there if it maintains its current trajectory," he wrote.

Though Facebook continued to lead the field by attracting 157.2 million U.S. visitors in May, comScore noted that Tumblr (10.7 million visitors) and other leading social-networking players also reached all-time U.S. audience highs last month, including LinkedIn (33.4 million) and Twitter (27 million).

"There is definite underlying strength in LinkedIn's user-adoption curve at the moment," Lipsman observed. "In fact, it has reached all-time U.S. audience highs in seven of the past 12 months and has grown 58 percent overall in the past year."

Moreover, the number of visitors at Twitter has increased 13 percent year over year, which Lipsman attributed in part to the "exceptionally buzz-worthy news story of Osama Bin Laden's death" as well as an ongoing discussion of the royal wedding. However, the most impressive gains during the past year have been made by Tumblr, which racked up 166 percent growth.

Politically Active

Though MySpace continues to be the second most popular social-networking site for U.S. users after Facebook, its audience has declined nearly 50 percent during the past year. Moreover, the length of the average user engagement at MySpace has dropped 85 percent, Lipsman observed.

According to Pew, 92 percent of all U.S. social-network Relevant Products/Services users were on Facebook when the survey was conducted in October and November of 2010. Only 29 percent used MySpace, followed by LinkedIn (18 percent) and Twitter (13 percent).

However, only seven percent of MySpace users and six percent of LinkedIn users said they accessed these sites on a daily basis, Pew reported. By contrast, 52 percent of Facebook users and 33 percent of Twitter users reported daily access.

Compared with Internet users in general, Facebook users accessing the site multiple times per day were 250 percent more likely to attend a political rally or meeting Relevant Products/Services. Moreover, 57 percent were more likely to have tried to convince someone to vote for a specific candidate, and 43 percent were more likely to say they would vote.

By contrast, those who use MySpace have a significantly higher ability to consider multiple points of view. "The average adult scored 64/100 on a scale of perspective taking," Pew researchers noted. "A MySpace user who uses the site a half-dozen times per month tends to score about eight points higher on the scale."

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