A recent report by Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project analyzes social media audience demographics for top social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr. This study was conducted through a national survey via landlines and mobile phones in English and Spanish in the fourth quarter of 2012.
The landscape of social media users was dominated by the most obvious group you may have guessed: young adults. However, 32 percent of respondents over the age of 65 claimed that they used social networks as a mode of communication. This represents the largest increase as a group when compared to last year's data. It was also interesting to note that women lead men on social media use by nearly 10 percentage points! Race and ethnic groups showed very little variance, but usage was led by Hispanic and black, non-Hispanic respondents. Not surprisingly, rural users were the group with the lowest adoption of social media platforms, with only 61 percent claiming use of social media platforms.
The survey also discovered various niche groups and which social media platforms each group uses on a regular basis. This information can help marketers more effectively choose the right social media platform to reach their target audiences.
Two-thirds of online adults are Facebook users, making this social media platform far and away the most popular. There were some interesting trends among Facebook users, particularly the 10 percentage point lead of women over men mentioned earlier. The majority of users also had some college education or a college degree, which may be due to the fact that Facebook was originally launched exclusively for college students. Other demographical segment leaders include urbanites, users in the 18 through 29 age group and high earners ($75,000+ per year).
Twitter has shown impressive growth by doubling the percentage of Internet users on Twitter from 8 percent to 16 percent since November of 2010. Twitter users are much more likely to be urban-based, be between the ages of 18 and 29, have some college education, and are led by African-American users.
The online social scrapbooking website has attracted 15 percent of all Internet users, which is nearly as much as the much older and more established Twitter platform has gained since its launch in 2006. Pinterest attracts five times as many women as men and has a large lead in the white, non-Hispanic ethnicity group. It's also interesting to find that rural users led the urbanity group, which is most likely due to crafts and scrapbooking being very popular with the rural demographic.
Instagram holds a healthy share of Internet users, with 13 percent reporting the use of the photo sharing social platform. Women are much more likely to use Instagram, as well as minority groups including Hispanic and black, non-Hispanic users. Demographical hot spots also included users between the ages of 18 and 29 and urban residents.
This platform showed the lowest interaction by far with only 6 percent of all Internet users. There was a large degree of parity among most demographical segments. However, this platform was clearly dominated by users in the 18 through 29 year old age group.
This information is important to marketers who want to gain a deeper understanding of where their target audiences are spending time on social networks. Download the Pew Research Social Media Demographics 2012 Report and combine this data with my recent Inc.com post that highlights a HubSpot study that analyzed social network activity by industry, to hone in on which social network that your organization should focus on in the future.