Social Networking in 2012


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Pew SNS Age Over Time

Pew data on social networking site use by age since 2005.

Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project Exit Disclaimer is an increasingly valuable resource to our work at Pew has been conducting surveys related to social media since 2005. Last week, Pew released data on the demographics of social network users Exit Disclaimer, including gender, race, age, education, income, and urbanity. Social networks surveyed include Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter.

The overall findings from this new data show that the most typical social networking site (SNS) user is an urban woman, 18-29 years old – women are more likely to use SNS than men (71% compared to 62%), and 83% of adults ages 18-29 use a SNS.

This data provides useful information to the HIV community about which SNS could best expand their reach and engage their populations or new populations. For example, if your HIV program is serving women below age 30, you may consider using Facebook and/or Pinterest as the SNS to reach your program population. However, if your HIV program serves and/or are interested in reaching African Americans you may want to consider using Twitter and/or Instagram. We asked Ingrid Floyd, Executive Director of Iris House Exit Disclaimer, what this new data means for her work,”This information from Pew helps my organization identify appropriate social media tools to reach those we serve with health messages,” she said.

Here is a snapshot of Pew data that can help you decide which social networking tools might best reach your existing or potential HIV program audiences:

  • What Pew found: Pinterest sports the largest gender difference of these SNS, with five times as many women than men using the site. Pinterest is especially appealing to women, adults under 50, whites, and those with some college education.
  • What has changed: 15% of internet users are using Pinterest. In Pew’s August 2012 Online Life in Pictures Exit Disclaimer report, this number was 12%. Also since Pew’s last report, we have launched our Pinterest account and encourage you to check it out.
  • More resources: blog post on getting started with Pinterest.
  • What Pew found: Twitter is especially appealing to younger adults, African-Americans, and urban residents.
  • What has changed: The percentage of internet users on Twitter is 16%, doubling since November 2010. In Pew’s Twitter Usage 2012 report Exit Disclaimer, they reported that 8% of online adults use Twitter on a typical day, and overall noted similar demographic trends.
  • More resources: blog recap on Pew’s 2012 Twitter report.
  • What Pew found: Instagram is especially appealing to younger adults, African Americans, Latinos, women, and urban residents.
  • What has changed: Although a newer network, Instagram has more users than Tumblr. The number of internet users using Instagram rose 1% since Pew’s last report in August 2012, to 13%.
  • More resources: predicted Instagram as a trend to watch in 2013. Are you using Instagram to reach your audiences? If so, we want to hear from you to inform a future blog post – please leave a comment!
  • What Pew found: Tumblr is especially appealing to young adults, 18-29 years old.
  • What changed: The number of online adults using Tumblr rose from 5% in August 2012, yet Tumblr still represents the least used SNS of this set.
  • More resources:’s blog post on Tumblr.

A backbone of our communications strategy is to know our audiences, and to be where they are to best communicate with them. We’re taking this data into consideration as we plan ahead…are you?

Find the full report at Exit Disclaimer.