Your Social Media Audience—Who’s Using What and How Much

It seems like everyone is using social media. Even your grandma.

In reality, that statement isn’t too far off the truth. Based on a recent study, the percentage of internet users older than 65 who are on Facebook outnumbers those who aren’t—at 56 percent, which is an increase of 11 percent from a year ago.

That fact is just one of many interesting tidbits found in Pew Research Center’s annual report on social media usage, which was released a few weeks ago. Pew surveyed almost 1600 people on their social media habits during September 2014. The overall trends aren’t a surprise—more people continue to use each of the social media platforms—but you can learn a lot of interesting information when digging into the numbers.

Picking Your Platform

As you strategize which platforms to use for your organization and how to use them, it helps to know who is using each service. A dig into the numbers reveals more trends of each sites’ popularity and who is using them. Social media continues to grow, as now more than half of the people online use more than one platform.

The most obvious takeaway is that Facebook is still the top dog. Facebook is used by 71 percent of all internet users, which equates to 58 percent of the entire population. Of those users, 70 percent say they use the site daily, which is more than 20 percent higher than the daily use of any other platform.

LinkedIn and Pinterest tied for the second most popular networks, thanks to owning niche markets. LinkedIn attracts many college graduates, with 50 percent of online college graduates using the network. Pinterest’s audience is female-heavy; as 42 percent of women online use the site, compared to just 13 percent for men.

Instagram saw the largest growth going from a 17 percent usage rate in 2013 to 26 percent in 2014. That jump was spurred by a large increase of use in the 18-29 demographic (from 37 to 53 percent). Twitter is most heavily used by young, educated people. Twitter’s most popular demographic is 18-29 year olds with a 37-percent usage rate. While the rates based on education go from 16 percent of high school graduates, to 24 percent with some college education and 30 percent of those who have a college degree or more.

Knowing Your Audience

So how can your organization use these statistics to make a difference in your day-to-day difference making? You have more success with your efforts if you are reaching the right audience. While Facebook is the most popular network, it is also the most crowded. Because the most people are on it, it also means that’s where the most content being posted. It can be a bit tricky to break through the Facebook algorithm (unless you know the tricks).

You’ll need to understand how your posts are filtered as well. Twitter and Instagram both deliver a constant feed—meaning that if a person you follow posts something, they will show up in your news feed, which isn’t always the case for Facebook.

LinkedIn also has a steady news feed, but it is far less reliable as just 13 percent of users visit the site daily. It might be a good place to post a job listing, but not as much for live, interactive content.

If you are interested in attracting a more rural crowd, then Pinterest is the way to go. Pinterest has 30 percent of users that live in rural areas—the highest non-Facebook site. Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn are all below 20 percent.

The Crossover Effect

Because more people are using more platforms, the crossover effect is increasing. The percentage of internet users who use just one site dropped from 36 percent to 28 percent.  People who use multiple social media sites are likely to have Facebook as one of those, as the lowest crossover rate is 86 percent. Twitter has the highest rate with its users, using at least 40 percent of each of the other sites. The Pew Research Center developed a nice graphic to illustrate the crossover between the different sites.

Percent of users of each particular site who use another particular site

Based on the numbers, it turns out this whole social media thing isn’t just a fad and will be around awhile. Dig into the full report here. By knowing who is using each of the different sites, you can target your message to the audience you want, and reach more end-users.




Lincoln Arneal

Lincoln Arneal was a Senior Editor at Nonprofit Hub who brought loads of real-world nonprofit experience to the team. He was the past executive director of a nonprofit that provided leadership development to junior high and high school students. He looked to bring the insights from his time forming, developing, and running a nonprofit to help others in their quest to do good. Lincoln also had a legal background and had written for various newspapers (covering high school sports) for the past 15 years. He could be followed on Twitter at @NPLNK.

February 6, 2015

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