Social Networking Fact Sheet

Highlights of the Pew Internet Project’s research related to social networking.

(Note: This page will be updated whenever new data is available.)

As of September 2013, 73% of online adults use social networking sites.

sns update 2013

As of September 2013:

  • 71% of online adults use Facebook
  • 18% of online adults use Twitter
  • 17% use Instagram
  • 21% use Pinterest
  • 22% use LinkedIn

For a detailed demographic portrait of users of various social networking sites  please see our recent report, Social Media Update 2013.

In May 2013, 74% of women were users of social networking sites, compared with 62% of men.

Between February 2005 and August 2006, the use of social networking sites among young adult internet users ages 18-29 jumped from 9% to 49%. Social networking site use by age group, over time:

social networking use by age group, over time

Mobile

The growing ubiquity of cell phones, especially the rise of smartphones, has made social networking just a finger tap away.  Fully 40% of cell phone owners use a social networking site on their phone, and 28% do so on a typical day.  Young people, blacks, Hispanics, the highly educated and those with a higher annual household income are more likely to use SNS on their phones than other groups.

demographics of social networking on mobile phones

Social impact

Do social networking sites isolate people and truncate their relationships? Or are there benefits associated with being connected to others in this way? In November 2010, we examined SNS in a survey that explored people’s overall social networks and how use of these technologies is related to trust, tolerance, social support, community, and political engagement, and found:

  • Social networking sites are increasingly used to keep up with close social ties
  • The average user of a social networking site has more close ties and is half as likely to be socially isolated as the average American
  • Facebook users are more trusting than others
  • Facebook users have more close relationships
  • Internet users get more support from their social ties and Facebook users get the most support
  • Facebook users are much more politically engaged than most people
  • Facebook revives “dormant” relationships
  • MySpace users are more likely to be open to opposing points of view

For more specific information on our findings on the social impact of technology, please see http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Technology-and-social-networks.aspx

Creators and curators

As of August 2012:

  • 46% of adult internet users post original photos or videos online that they themselves have created. We call them creators.
  • 41% of adult internet users take photos or videos that they have found online and repost them on sites designed for sharing images with many people. We call them curators.

Overall, 56% of internet users do at least one of the creating or curating activities we studied and 32% of internet users do both creating and curating activities.

Power users

The average Facebook user gets more from their friends on Facebook than they give to their friends. Why? Because of a segment of “power users,” who specialize in different Facebook activities and contribute much more than the typical user does.

We conducted a new study that for the first time combines server logs of Facebook activity with survey data to explore the structure of Facebook friendship networks and measures of social well-being. These data were then matched with survey responses. And the new findings show that over a one-month period:

  • 40% of Facebook users in our sample made a friend request, but 63% received at least one request
  • Users in our sample pressed the like button next to friends’ content an average of 14 times, but had their content “liked” an average of 20 times
  • Users sent 9 personal messages, but received 12
  • 12% of users tagged a friend in a photo, but 35% were themselves tagged in a photo

Read more about Facebook activity and Facebook “power users” in our report, Why most Facebook users get more than they give

Politics

Social networking sites have become an important additional arena for politics.  They are a resource for political news, information, finding likeminded issue-oriented people, and a tool for voter outreach in the run-up to elections.  During the 2012 campaign season, Pew Internet released a number of reports on the role of social networking sites on elections and the political process:

For a full overview of Pew Internet’s research on the internet and politics, please read our Politics Summary Sheet (insert url here).  Or for access to our full politics archive, please visit http://pewinternet.org/Topics/Activities-and-Pursuits/Politics.aspx?typeFilter=5


Want more Pew Internet info on social networking? Check out these greatest hits, from our archives:

Why Americans use social media

Social Isolation and New Technology

The Social Side of the Internet

Millennials will make online sharing in networks a lifelong habit

Teens and Social Media

The Strength of Internet Ties