Most Common Uses of Social Media2

The Most Common Uses of Social Media

If you’re reading this blog then it’s quite likely that you’re a fairly regular user of social media.  You probably have an idea of your favorite sites, how much time you spend on them, and what you love about them.  However, you may be interested in learning how the other several billions of people across the planet use the Internet.  And you may even be surprised to discover how their use of social media differs from yours.

In 2011 NM Incite, a Nielson McKinsey Company, published their “State of the Media: The Social Media Report – Q3 2011.”  Some of the key findings were:

  • Nearly 4 in 5 active Internet users visit social networks and blogs
  • 40% of social media users access social media content via their phones
  • 70% of active online adult social networkers shop online, 12% more likely than the average adult Internet user
  • Internet users over the age of 55 are driving the growth of social networking through the Mobile Internet

Yes, you read it right: the 55 and older age group is driving the growth of social networking!  I’m not sure which surprised me the most, that the 55+ were driving growth or that they were doing it via the Mobile Internet.   We hear so much about how social media interaction and trends are dictated by the online habits of the younger generations that sometimes we forget that about the other players in the online ecosystem.

So toss aside the notion that the Internet is primarily used for browsing or checking email and be open to the idea that maybe there are some other great ways to use the Internet that you may find useful too.

1.    Connecting with Friends and Family

It probably comes as no surprise that the majority of social media is used to stay in touch and reconnect with friends and family.  According to NM Incite’s Social Media Report, nearly 90% of social networkers use it for just that purpose.

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the past 5 years, you’re probably aware of the current Facebook obsession.  And whether or not you’re a member, Facebook has nearly 1 billion active users with more than half of them accessing the site via their mobile devices.

So what’s the profile of the likely social media user connecting with friends and family?

Ms. Socializer

The Most Common Uses of Social MediaFemales aged 18 – 34 are the majority of visitors to social networking sites.  She’s likely Asian or Pacific Islander with a household income of under $50k and lives in the New England region.  Chances are that she has at least a bachelor’s degree and quite possibly a post graduate degree.


2.   Sharing a Hobby or Interest

Once we get the past using social media for anything related to friends and family, it appears that the next common use of social media is for connecting to others with shared hobbies or interests.

Though females dominate 9 of the top 10 social networking sites, NM Incite found that the percentage of men visiting the sites – LinkedIn and Wikia  – exceeded the total active male Internet users (47%).   Meaning, that on these sites there is a higher than normal volume of male users.  In general, this particular driver of social media appears to resonate with a slightly older male-dominated demographic.

The Man With A Plan

The Most Common Uses of Social MediaMen aged 30 to 64 are more interested in using social media to connect with like-minded people with shared hobbies.  According to The Pew Internet & American Life Project report, 56% of men are more likely to use social media to connect around a hobby or interest.  Additionally, 16% of 30-49 year olds and 18% of 50 – 64 year olds cite connecting around hobbies and interests as their major reason for using social networking sites.

3.   Entertainment

Entertainment social media tools include sites offering a creative outlet, gaming resources, reviews and how-to information and the ability to stay up-to-date with public figures.  All-in-all less than 5% of users cite this as reason for using social media.

4.   Dating

According to The Pew Research Center less than 3% of people use social media for dating.  I must admit that I expected this number to be at least 5%.  Nevertheless, the data shows that seeking romantic partners plays a very minor role in most peoples’ use of social media.

So there you have the top reasons why most people use social media.  I’d be interested in hearing how you use social media, especially if it’s listed above.  And if you’re looking for new ways to use social media and you’re not sure where to start, read my article, “The 8 Types of Social Media.”  This will give you an overview of the social media tools available to you.