More than half of all U.S. adults now use social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, and a new report by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project finds that users value these sites primarily as tools to stay in touch with friends and family members.
More than six in ten users cite staying in touch with family members and connecting with current friends as a “major reason” why they use online social networks. Re-connecting with old friends and acquaintances also plays a significant role, as half of social media users say that connecting with people they’ve lost touch with is a major reason behind their use of these sites.
These findings are from a survey conducted from April 26-May 22 among 2,277 adults ages 18 and over, including surveys in English and Spanish and on both landline and cell phones. The margin of error for social networking site users is plus or minus 3 percentage points and the full report is available for immediate release at http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Why-Americans-Use-Social-Media.aspx.
Other key findings of this survey include:
· Connecting with public figures online is particularly popular among Twitter users. One in ten Twitter users (11%) say that reading comments by public figures such as celebrities or politicians is a major reason why they use social media, and 30% say it is a minor reason. Just 4% of non-Twitter users point to these connections as a major reason for their social media usage.
· Older users are more likely to view social networking sites as a way to connect around a hobby or interest. One in five social network users ages 50-64 (18%) cite connecting with others around common hobbies or interests is a major reason they use social networking sites, compared with one in ten users ages 18-29 (10%).
· Few social media users are there to seek romance. Just 3% of users say that finding potential romantic or dating partners is a “major reason” why they use these sites, and 84% say this is “not a reason at all” for their social network usage.