Half of U.S. Adults Use Social Media

Half of U.S. Adults Use Social Media


August 6, 2008 6:00 AM

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Half of U.S. adults use social media. That is, they do according to the latest findings from Universal McCann’s
"Media in Mind" study, an ongoing research effort that analyzes how
consumers relate to media and products in their daily life. However,
it’s worth noting that in this particular study "social media" includes
text messaging. Combined with blogging and social networking, these
three technologies are used by 50% of U.S. adults for communication
purposes.

In the 18-34 year-old demographic, the numbers of social media users
are even higher: 85% of rely on one of the three platforms to stay in
touch with others. Of course, the increase in those who are now texting
could be pushing these overall numbers up. It seems that more adults
are texting than ever before. Those adults who say that they’ve never
sent a text message fell to 41% from 49% last year.

Says Graeme Hutton, SVP-Director of Consumer Insights: "We’re
definitely seeing continual shifts. The great unwashed – those people
who have never sent a text message – is getting smaller all the time."

Side Note: Personally, I find the terminology "the great
unwashed (masses)" a little demeaning. The fact is that those at the
lower end of the technology-use spectrum don’t use things like text
messaging and the internet as much because they are usually
economically disadvantaged – an unfortunate condition that has numerous
causes including everything from poor educational resources to lack of
job opportunities in their geographic region. Lumping this lower-income
group into one "great unwashed" group was an unnecessarily cruel way to
address those not participating in the social media revolution.

That aside, there are still plenty of valuable findings that have
surfaced because of this study, including the following new data:

  • 1 out of 10 U.S. adults now publish blogs (up from 5% last year)
  • 1 out of 5 18-34-year olds publish blogs (up from 10% last year)
  • 22% of U.S. adults use IM (up from 9% last year)
  • 21% of 18-34-year olds use IM (up from 14% last year)

But are these numbers showing a true shift in sheer numbers of users
or really just a change in awareness? Hutton says, "Two years ago,
asking people about blogs, people were shaking their heads. I think now
it’s taking off because social networks are taking off…People may
have been doing it before, but may not have realized it. Now they’re
recognizing it for what it is."

Although these numbers look promising for our favorite genre, social
media, they should probably be taken with a grain of salt. While we do
believe that text messaging is an important method of communication, it
doesn’t quite fit with what the standard definition of social media is:
blogging, social networking sites, and other web properties that engage
collective groups of people to drive their content. We would like to
see how the numbers really break down among the three "social media"
activities they measured, but that data was not immediately available.

Source: MarketingVO

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