Social Media Users Skew Young, Affluent, Female

The majority of online Americans used social media in 2012, according to the Pew Center’s Internet & American Life Project: of 1,802 Internet users surveyed by Pew in December 2012, 67% used Facebook, 16% used Twitter, and 15% used Pinterest. According to Pew, the social media audience in general skews young, urban, educated, and affluent, and female -- although there are some significant variations between networks. So who, exactly, is using each platform?

More women than men are on Facebook, with 72% of female respondents using the social network, versus 62% of men. In terms of age, 86% of adults ages 18-29 use Facebook, compared to 73% of adults ages 30-49, 57% of adults ages 50-64, and 35% of adults ages 65+. More affluent respondents were more likely to use Facebook, with 73% of people with household incomes above $75,000 a year using the social network, compared to 69% of people with household incomes from $50,000-$74,999, 62% of people with household incomes from $30,000-$49,999, and 68% of people with household incomes of $30,000 or less (the last figure could reflect younger adults living on their own). People with a college education or some college were more likely (68% and 73%, respectively) than people with no college education (60%) to use Facebook (again, the higher proportion for “some college” may reflect a larger number of young adults). Among urban Internet users, 72% are on Facebook, compared to 65% of suburban Internet users and 63% of rural Internet users.

Turning to Twitter, men were slightly more likely than women to use the microblogging site, with 17% of male respondents using it, compared to 15% of female respondents. African-Americans and Hispanics were significantly more likely to use Twitter (26% and 19%, respectively) than whites (14%). Unsurprisingly the Twitter audience also skews younger, with 27% of 18-29-year-olds using Twitter, compared to 16% of 30-49-year-olds, 10% of 50-64-year-olds, and just 2% of Internet users ages 65+. In terms of income, 17% of Internet users with household incomes of $75,000 or more use Twitter, compared to 14% of Internet users with household incomes of $50,000-$74,999, 16% for $30,000-$49,999, and 16% of Internet users with household incomes under $30,000. Among Internet users with a college education, 15% use Twitter, compared to 17% of Internet users with some college education, and 15% of Internet users with no college education. 20% of urban Internet users use Twitter, compared to 14% of suburban Internet users and 12% of rural Internet users.

As might be expected, Pinterest skews significantly towards women, with 25% of female Internet users saying the use the virtual pinboard and scrapbooking site, compared to just 5% of male Internet users. In terms of ethnicity, 18% of whites surveyed use Pinterest, compared to 10% of Hispanics and 8% of African-Americans. Pinterest skews somewhat older, with 19% of 18-29-year-olds and the same proportion of 30-49-year-olds using the site, compared to 12% of 50-64-year-olds and 4% of those ages 65+. The audience also tends to be better educated, with 20% of Internet-using college grads using the site, compared to 16% of Internet users with some college, and11% of Internet users with no college. On the other hand, it is more middle-income, with 23% of Internet users with household income from $50,000-$74,999 using Pinterest, compared to 18% of Internet users with household income of $75,000+, 15% of Internet users with household income of $30,000-$49,999, and 10% of Internet users with household incomes under $29,999. Pinterest is also still stronger in rural areas, with 18% of Internet users in rural areas using the site, compared to 16% of Internet users in suburban areas, and 13% of Internet users in urban areas.

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