Social Media growth

New Pew report looks at social media demographics among Americans

A new Pew report is out; the report takes a look at social media use in America.  It’s findings, as always, help to illuminate the state of social media.

I would highly recommend that you check out the entire report, but from my perspective at least, here are the major findings and insights:

  • Messaging Apps are growingwith 36% of all smartphone users using such an app, and 17% using an app which automatically deletes a message.  Users of these apps tend to be younger than 29, college educated and live in an urban area.
  • Facebook growth has slowed, but that’s largely a result of it having less room to grow.  Pinterest and Instagram continue to grow at high rates; Twitter’s growth has completely plateaued, and LinkedIn has actually shrunk….?
  • In terms of demographics of specific platforms:
    • Facebook is more popular among women than men.  Users are also young and have high levels of income.
    • Pinterest has the highest gender disparity of all networks (44% of women vs. 16% of men).  It’s users are young, less wealthy than Facebook and more suburban/rural than urban.
    • Instagram is the most popular network for racial minorities.  It’s users are overwhelmingly young.
    • LinkedIn has a strikingly even gender ratio, older users, and the most educated and wealthiest user base.
    • Twitter users are relatively even across important demographic variables, except for geographic location, which skew urban.
  • In terms of frequency of use, Facebook does the best, followed by Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

What does this say about the current state of social media?  A few things:

  • Messaging apps are here to stay and should be used accordingly.
  • Serious demographic disparities exist between all platforms, and your social media use should be tailored accordingly.
  • Facebook is still the undisputed king.

Tweets and Consequences

Like the blog?  Get the book!  Tweets and Consequences: 60 Social Media Disasters in Politics and How You Can Avoid A Career-Ending Mistake is now available on Amazon for purchase or download.

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Seriously, if you are in politics, Facebook is just not an option anymore

A new study from Pew confirms what most of us probably figured already:

pew political survey

The numbers are pretty staggering.  In terms of where Millennials get their political news, the top source, bar none, is Facebook.  For Generation X, the gap is closer, but Facebook still leads.  For the Baby Boomer generation, Local TV is the most utilized source, and Facebook is at a mere 39%, but that is still a pretty impressive number.

It doesn’t take a genius to extrapolate a trend here: Younger generations are becoming increasingly reliant on social media in order to get their political news.  This has some fascinating and powerful implications for media, politicians and democracy.  From the politician perspective, however, your course of action is clear: YOU MUST USE FACEBOOK, and social media in general, if you want to have an opportunity to influence the general public and keep your constituents informed about your actions.

I, like every other elected official, have been frustrated with the media at points.  It’s bound to happen: they misquote you or put an unfair slant on a story (well, unfair in my mind, anyway).  This is natural, and part of the tension that should exist between the media and government.  Facebook provides an opportunity for elected officials to connect directly with our constituents, without the media gatekeepers, and our constituents are clearly taking advantage of that opportunity.


Putting on a different hat – that of concerned citizen – this is a little frightening.  Sure, politicians can connect directly with the public, and citizens can connect directly with their elected officials, but they are then only getting one side of the story.  Of course journalists and reporters will have their biases and make mistakes, but the vast, vast majority of the time, they get it right, and they shine a light in areas of government that need darkness expunged.  If media continues to decline, we lose those warriors of democracy, and I don’t think that’s good for anyone.

Tweets and Consequences

Like the blog?  Get the book!  Tweets and Consequences: 60 Social Media Disasters in Politics and How You Can Avoid A Career-Ending Mistake is now available on Amazon for purchase or download.


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Key takeaways from Pew’s new social media survey

In the past, I’ve written about Pew Research and their surveys on social media.  Pew has now released an update to their annual social media survey, and there are some very interesting results in here:

  • Facebook growth has topped out from 2013, with 71% of online adults using the platform in 2014 – the same as the previous year.  This might be a matter of the network having simply maxed out – there isn’t much growth left to be had!
    • Engagement on Facebook, however, continues to increase. In 2013, 63% of Facebook users used the site on a daily basis – that number is now 70%.
  • Other networks, however, grew significantly over the past year: LinkedIn 22-28%, Pinterest 21-28%, Instagram 17-26% and Twitter 18-23%.
    • This survey would confirm what others are saying: Instagram is growing very, very fast, and you have to pay attention to it now as an elected official.
    • Pinterest is a female dominated network: 42% of online women use it, with just 13% of online men doing the same.
  • In 2013, 42% of online adults used multiple social networks – that’s now at 52%.
  • Much of the info in this study pertained to online adults. However, check out the statistics among ALL American adults:
    • 58% use Facebook.
    • 23% use LinkedIn (side note – I’d be curious to know what that actually means – I know a lot of people who have a LinkedIn profile but never use the network).
    • 22% use Pinterest.
    • 21% use Instagram.
    • 19% use Twitter (this is fascinating to me, though it’s worth noting that LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram have specific objectives or demographic niches – Twitter has a broader reach).

Anyway, if you use social media extensively, the survey is worth checking out. Some key takeaways for government users:

  • Facebook is still the place to be, and will be for the immediate future.
  • Pinterest is great for accessing a female audience, but the key is content, and that’s a tougher nut to crack: Pinterest content tends to skew towards brands, food and retail, and I don’t know if there is a government place for the network…yet.
  • LinkedIn remains the best for business networking, but again, government uses are still somewhat limited.
  • Instagram users are young – over 90% are under 35 – and that’s a demographic that you need to hit.

Any thoughts to add? Please let me know in the comments!

Pew Research survey on social media, cell phones & campaigns

Oh, Pew, I love you.

Pew just released a survey on social media, cell phones and the 2014 campaign, and the results show the continued intersection of social media, mobile devices and campaigns.  The information below is interesting, but I wouldn’t say any of it is surprising.  Indeed, it confirms much of what we already knew: social media is vitally necessary from a political and governance perspective, and that impact is growing.

From it’s key findings section:

The proportion of Americans who use their cell phones to track political news or campaign coverage has doubled compared with the most recent midterm election: 28% of registered voters have used their cell phone in this way during the 2014 campaign, up from 13% in 2010. Further, the number of Americans who follow candidates or other political figures on social media has also risen sharply: 16% of registered voters now do this, up from 6% in 2010.

If this isn’t a clarion call about the changing method of communications in this country, then I simply do not know what is.  By the way, think this is just for young kids?  Think again:

Voters of all ages are more likely to take part in these behaviors than in the previous midterm race, but that growth has been especially pronounced among 30-49 year olds.Some 40% of voters ages 30-49 have used their cell phone to follow this year’s election campaign (up from 15% in 2010) and 21% follow political figures on social media (up from just 6% in 2010). Voters in this age group now take part in each of these behaviors at rates nearly identical to 18-29 year olds.

There is more to the study, and I highly recommend you check it out.

What does this mean for candidates and elected officials?  There are multiple take-aways:

  • Is your campaign and government website mobile-friendly?  It better be.
  • People who follow campaign news on social media were more likely to be engaged in other aspects of the campaign, like donations and volunteering – in other words, they were more likely to be part of the “activist class.”  Correlation doesn’t equal causation, so it is impossible to tell if the news makes someone more active or if they are more likely to be more active and that is why they read the news.  That being said, news on social media should be action-oriented and encourage people to do something.
  • People follow news on social media to be the “first” to hear about something.  If that’s the case, use social media for “exclusive” or “breaking news” purposes.
  • According to the survey results, people like to feel personally connected to the candidates and elected officials that they follow.  This should alter content – candidates need to be relatable.

Did you have a chance to review the study?  What do you think? Let me know in the comments!