Stamford, CT (PRWEB) July 10, 2009
Facebook far exceeds the other major social networking sites in popularity and value, according to a new social media study released today by Anderson Analytics.
The survey of 5,000 U.S. social media users found that Facebook members were the most loyal among regular users of the four major social networking service (SNS) destinations - Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn being the other three - and that they also saw the most value in the hugely popular service.
When users among respective SNS were asked in which network was the most valuable, 75% said Facebook, followed by MySpace (65%), LinkedIn (30%) and Twitter (12%). Flipping the question, only 29% of respondents said they could "probably do without" Facebook, compared to 43% for Twitter and 35% for MySpace; LinkedIn also scored 29% on this query.
Facebook has 78 million regular users, defined as those logging on at least once a month, according to the Anderson Analytics report, followed by MySpace (67 million), Twitter (17 million) and LinkedIn (11 million). MySpace has the youngest user group, with an average age of 29, while LinkedIn's audience is the oldest, 36 on average, the survey found. The average age of Facebook users was 34; for Twitter, it was 33.
The Anderson Analytics report, found an estimated 110 million people in the U.S., or 36% of the total population, are regular users of social networking sites. Youth is still a major determinant of social networking usage, the report found, with 61% or 67 million regular users, defined as those logging on at least once a month, under age 35.
Social networking site usage has increased over the past six months, according to the report. Users of Facebook (59%), Twitter (59%), and LinkedIn (53%) were much more likely to say their social networking site usage was increasing compared to users of MySpace (40%).
"Our research shows that Facebook users clearly understand the value of their network," said Tom H. C. Anderson, managing partner of Anderson Analytics. "Twitter's challenge will be to add more value to its service, and LinkedIn's challenge will be to give users reasons to go there more often, something Twitter seems especially good at."
Need for connection fuels use; Gen Y users say they are happier, date more
The need for social interaction, not one's degree of tech savvy, was found to be a primary driver behind the explosive growth of SNS, according to the Anderson Analytics report.
The most common reason given by respondents for using SNS was to stay in touch with people they know. This was especially true among older users, whose primary reason was to keep connected to family members. Users under 35 are more likely to use social networking sites just for fun and to contact friends.
Are people using social networking more likely to be happy and in relationships? At least among members of Gen Y, those born between 1980 and 1990, the answer is yes. The Anderson Analytics report found Gen Y members who regularly use social networking sites are significantly more likely than non-users to describe themselves as very happy (55% vs. 35%).
In addition, Gen Y social networking site users are much more likely to say they are dating or in a relationship than Gen Y members who don't use social networking sites (60% vs. 30%); Gen Y members who don't use the sites are much more likely to say they are "single and rarely go on dates" (40% vs. 7%).
"Considering the rapid growth and reach of these popular SNS tools, especially how they have moved beyond the early adopter phase of a primarily youth-driven phenomenon, it's important to gather data about their usage in order to gain a deeper understanding of what drives people to use them, and how they use them," Anderson said. "Their collaborative aspects, always-on nature and one-to-one/one-to-many capabilities have significantly impacted the nature of the social dynamic."
Gender differences in SNS usage
In terms of gender differences, the report found a sizable gap between male and female users. By a margin of 55% to 45%, there are more women than men using social networking sites regularly. Among the four most popular social networking site destinations, LinkedIn skews the most toward male users, 57% to 43%, while Facebook tends a bit toward women, 56% to 44%.
While male and female SNS users engage in similar activities online, the survey found that males are more likely to share information about their hobbies, interesting articles or work-related topics. Female users in general are more likely to share photos, information about what they are currently doing or posts about their pets.
Male users tend to have a greater number of social networking site connections. The report found men have an average of 140 friends on Facebook, 53 Twitter followers and 71 LinkedIn connections; the comparable averages for women are 110, 18 and 36. The report found that this is because males are less likely to be concerned about connecting to strangers online (29% for men vs. 10% of women). Another difference: men were more likely than women to use social networking sites for business purposes: 32% of male respondents said vs. 22% of females view networking for business/career contacts as a key SNS benefit
Using social networking sites as brand and promotional tools cuts both ways
The growing practice of companies creating social networking site profiles or widgets for brand-building and promotion was backed up by the report's findings. Fifty percent of participants said they have followed a commercial service, product, or brand on a social networking site. These efforts seem to be paying off, but the results are somewhat mixed: almost half of users surveyed (46%) report saying something positive about a brand on a social networking site, while just under one quarter (23%) have said something negative about a brand.
Anderson said his company conducted the report as part of their new AA-Social Media service to help its clients better understand the reach and overlap among major social networks. "Even if you're not actively marketing using social networking sites yet, a critical first step is to understand which of your customers are on what networks and how they view the medium," he said.
Anderson Analytics' Social Network Study sampled over 11,000 Greenfield Online panelists over an 11 month period to understand SNS reach and overlap among the US Online Population. In May Anderson Analytics surveyed an additional 5,000 panelists of which 1,250 participated in an in-depth attitude and usage survey. Anderson Analytics projected and balanced results based on key variables including age and gender.
About Anderson Analytics, LLC
More than market research, Anderson Analytics is the first next generation marketing consultancy to combine new technologies, such as data and text mining, with traditional market research. Anderson Analytics helps clients gain The Information Advantage by combining the efficiencies and business experience found in large research firms with the rigorous methodological understanding from academia and the creativity found only in smaller firms. For more information, please visit http://www.andersonanalytics.com or the blog at http://www.tomhcanderson.com .
About Greenfield Online, Inc.
Greenfield Online, Inc. is a global interactive media and services company that collects consumer attitudes about products and services, enabling consumers to reach informed purchasing decisions about the products and services they want to buy; and helping companies better understand their customer in order to formulate effective product marketing strategies. Proprietary, innovative technology enables us to collect these opinions quickly and accurately, and to organize them into actionable form. Through our Greenfield Online and Ciao Surveys websites and affiliate networks, we collect, organize and sell consumer opinions in the form of survey responses to marketing research companies and companies worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.greenfield-ciaosurveys.com.
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