Social network popularity varies by demographic

City-dwellers use social media more often than their rural counterparts, and African-Americans aged 18-29 dominate Twitter. These stats and more.

The Pew Internet and American Life Project recently published “The Demographics of Social Media Users,” detailing the demographics of social media users by age, ethnicity, household income, gender, urbanity, education and platform.

While the report homes in on the demographics of those who use Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, it does not include Linkedin, Google+ and Flickr.

A few data points stand out:

  • Urban African-Americans aged 18-29 use Twitter and Instagram more than other demographics. While the study does not include Americans under age 18, I believe many high school students use both heavily.
  • Tumblr is a young person’s medium. Most users are aged 18-29.
  • Hispanics are heavy users of every social media channel. They are more likely to use social networking sites than Caucasians or African-Americans.
  • Urbanity plays a role. Slightly more social media users live in urban environments than suburban or rural ones. Significantly more Twitter, Instagram and Facebook users live in urban areas than other environments.

It’s no longer enough to broadly assume “everyone is on Facebook,” “professionals are on LinkedIn” and “women are on Pinterest.” Our thinking about our online audiences and potential fans must be more sophisticated.

If your organization works with urban youth, look to Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter. If you want to engage young adults, think beyond Facebook to Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. If you want to specifically attract African-American stakeholders, do not leave Twitter and Instagram out of the mix. A quick glance through non-profit Tumblr blogs illustrates how Tumblr blogs that engage with youth can be extremely successful.

Forty percent of all cell phone users in the U.S. access social networks from their mobile phones. African-American and Hispanic young adults aged 18-29 are far more likely to access social networks from their phones than older, white social network users.

How does this information inform your next online or mobile campaign? How could you create easy, one-click actions from an organization’s Facebook page just for this audience?

Interestingly, in a related data set, the Pew Internet and American Life Project evaluated Internet usage over time by age group. The data reveals that the percentage of social media users in every age group decreased since August 2012 except those aged 30-49. The sharpest decrease in percentage of users is in the 18-29 age bracket, dropping 9 percent during the second half of 2012.

It is no longer acceptable to assume adoption will continue to rise among every age group. No longer is the 55 and older age group the fastest-growing social media adoption age group. In fact, the concept of “the fastest-growing social media adoption age bracket” no longer holds true.

For a quick glance at the demographic data, check out this interactive infographic compiled from the study’s results. For highlights of the Pew study related to social networking, Pew offers this summary.

Debra Askanase is the CEO of Community Organizer 2.0, where a version of the article originally appeared.

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