Three studies reveal surprising shift in social media use patterns

Three recent studies provide a window into a shifting social media market, with some surprising results. Could it be that middle-aged adults are actually using their mobile phones more than youth to access social media sites? Do you think social media users would rather give or receive product advice? SNEWS has the summary results and links to the studies.
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Three studies, released March 2-3, indicate that Facebook continues to dominate and increase its place of importance among those who favor social media.

The Retail Advertising and Marketing Association, a division of the National Retail Federation, announced, on March 3, the results of new research into the habits of social media users by comparing that demographic to what it terms the average U.S. adult. In summary, the study, “Social Media: An Inside Look at the People Who Use It” (click here to read the entire report), found:

>> Seven out of 10 social media users between the ages of 18-34 regularly use Facebook more than other sites such as MySpace, Twitter and Classmates.

>> 71.8 percent of social media users prefer to communicate with others about a product or service with face-to-face communication after conducting an online search.

>> People who use social media prefer to give advice about a product or service rather than receive it.

>> Social media users are more likely to try and use other new media than the average U.S. adult.

>> 70.6 percent of female social media users regularly use Facebook, compared to 61 percent of males.

>> Surprisingly, more men than women prefer to communicate with others via a cell phone conversation after searching for a product or service online.

On March 3, Comscore released the results of its new study about social networking access via mobile browsers. The study found that 30.8 percent of smart phone users accessed social networking sites via their mobile browser in January 2010 -- up 8.3 percentage points from 22.5 percent one year ago. While access to Facebook via mobile browser grew 112 percent in the past year, and Twitter experienced a 347 percent jump, a closer look at the numbers puts this jump into perspective -- Facebook now has 25.1 million users accessing it via mobile browsers compared to only 4.7 million using Twitter. The loser in the smart phone browser boom is MySpace, which mustered only 11.4 million mobile users in January 2010, down 7 percent from 12.3 million mobile users in January 2009. (Click here to read the full news release.)

On March 2, Nielsen Company published results of a study on its blog page (click here to read) that revealed women and the middle-aged do the most social networking via a mobile device.

The study found that women and people between the ages of 35 and 54 are most apt to perform social networking activities via mobile device. In December 2009, Nielsen research indicated that women were responsible for 55 percent of mobile social networking activity, compared to 45 percent performed by men.

And despite the stereotype of teens spending every waking moment on a mobile device, Nielsen data suggests adults actually spend more time performing mobile web surfing. Only 7 percent of mobile social networking activity can be attributed to 13-to-17-year-olds and only 16 percent by 18-to-24-year-olds in December 2009.

Who leads the pack? According to Nielsen, it is the 35-to-54-year-olds who accounted for 36 percent of mobile social network usage in December 2009. Close behind them were 25-to-34-year-olds, who accounted for 34 percent of the month’s mobile social networking activity. Users ages 55 and up combined for the remaining 7 percent.

--Michael Hodgson

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