Monitoring The Social Habit

More Americans are indulging in the habit of social media use, including a growing number who access sites via their smartphones.Twitter users are more likely to be Democrats and Facebook is the go-to location to influence purchasing decisions. Those are some of the findings unveiled last week by Tom Webster, vice president for strategy and marketing at Edison Research, and contained in the June 2012 "The Social Habit."

Jay Baer, in his Convince & Convert blog, pulled out "11 shocking new social media statistics in America." While they may not actually be shocking, a few are very interesting.

  • Some 56 percent of Americans have posted a profile of themselves on a social media site. That is up from 48 percent in 2010. There are 143 million Americans with a Facebook profile.

  • Almost the same percentage (55%) of Americans between 45 and 54 years of age have posted social media profiles and represent the fastest growing segment on social media. Older Americans have a lower percentage, but still a fairly impressive 30 percent.

  • A total of 22 percent of Americans use social networking sites several times a day. Nearly two-thirds go to their sites at least once a day. Facebook is the most addictive social network, with 23 percent of its users checking their account five or more times per day.

  • A year ago, 68 percent of Americans using social networks said none had much influence on buying decisions. That number dropped this year to just 36 percent, as 47 percent say Facebook influences their purchasing decisions. That may coincide with 54 percent of Facebook users who have accessed the site via smartphone — and 33 percent who use their smartphone as the primary access point for Facebook.

  • People are getting into the swing of Twitter. Just two years ago, less than half of the people with Twitter accounts actually tweeted. Now, thanks to eager new users, 76 percent of those with Twitter feeds tweet. Just as interesting, 53 percent of Twitter users have had feeds for less than a year, compared to 19 percent for Facebook.

• For marketers, only a third of Americans using social media have ever followed a brand, which affords a lot of upside if you can find a way to engage users.

  • For politicos, 40 percent of Twitter users are Democrats, which is notably higher than the party's overall percentage of the population. The number of Republican and non-affiliated Twitter users tracks closely with their overall population numbers.

A couple of findings Baer didn't include in his list of 11 shocking facts are:

  • More than 70 percent of LinkedIn users claim to have at least a 4-year college degree. Only 50 percent of Twitter users and 41 percent of Facebook users have college diplomas.

  • Four in 10 Americans hear or read about significant tweets in their news media.

  • More than 60 percent of social networkers own a smartphone.

The Social Habit was conducted by Edison Research and Arbitron in January and February using a telephone (landline and mobile phone) survey of 2,020 people. The 2012 data set is the 20th in a series that dates back to 1998.

Started more than a decade ago, the study offers insight into trends and uses of social media.