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.


  1. WOW! Thank you! These stats are great and make complete sense! We are using social media to launch our safe sex with condom use awareness campaign for the MOJO LIFESAVER A non-discreet 2.5″ – 3 condom keychain holder. It’s an airtight, waterproof, sealed and concealed safe sex vehicle to condom use.

  2. I work with young boys with HIV who do sex work. Yes, such off-the-grid kids do exist. We have created a safe house as a refuge. We made a video about who we are and how we connect to a social network built by us. We posted the video to youtube It’s a little different because we are a little different. You wanted “child friendly.” What you got from us was us. How “child friendly” is it to take at-risk kids and connect them to HIV, drugs, pimps, and play for pay. This is how they see adults. People like you only make my job harder and harder. And then you pretend you are part of a government and culture that cares, and, oh, look at us, and what wonderful work we do telling people that social networks are viable mechanisms agencies use. Like we did not know that. What we knew was that our video would go nowhere. Because we don’t fit your mold. How child friendly is it when adults traffic children in sex trafficking. You people cannot even admit that boys are very much a part of this scene. Often, undocumented boys. But no. This goes much further than you want a propaganda film to go. You can’t even look those boys who made that video in the eye and tell them their video sucked. They hear nothing. “We told you,” they tell me. “They’re the suits, and suits only want to bust you.” I think they are saying something about your status quo. It’s about a photo op with Bill Gates holding up a sign. And you people wonder why you have such a hard time reaching the boys I work with. This time, they did not fail. You did. Your inability to get back to them or respond to them in any way whatsoever (maybe with any luck we would just crawl away) is the equivalent of indifference. It is indifference that lives at the heart of dealing with a pandemic that has killed millions. The boys are right. Indifference is the hallmark of the suits. We are often asked to participate in video contests, film festivals. Making video is what we do. Our social network is called Show me Your Life and we are in 18 countries. You can’t include kids who make their own social network in your paradigm because you do not know what that is or how it works. It’s alien to you. Probably threatening. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we will not work with you again. We put a lot of sweat into that video, but I guess it didn’t meet your standards. I can only guess, but usually I nail it. Please do not contact us. We do not want to know you. We already know too much. I regret exposing the boys to another set of status quo indifference. We are not interested in knowing any more about what you do. You are the suits. We will block you and delete you. Our audience consists of the very population you have no idea how to reach.

  3. Tim Barrus says:

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