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B2B Marketing

Why the US Uses Social Media

According to, two-thirds of American adults use social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn. In order to use social media as an effective marketing platform, it’s important to understand why these sites are being used.

CMO recently reported on a survey of nearly 2,300 US adults. The survey was conducted during April-May 2011 by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project.

Connecting with family members and friends is the primary motivation for using these sites around 66% of the time, with roughly half indicating that connection with ‘lost’ friends and colleagues is the primary motivation for logging on.

To a lesser degree, American adults use social networking to a) connect with others who share hobbies or interests (14%), b) make new friends (9%), c) read comments by celebrities, politicians or athletes (5%) and d) find potential romantic partners (3%).

Staying in Touch With Family Members

Within the group which responded that connection with family members is the most important reason for social networking, there were no significant demographic differences related to age, income, education, race, parental status or residency. The primary difference was gender: female users cited this reason more often than males (72% to 55%).

Connecting With Current and Old Friends

This reason was most relevant to users under 50 years old. Approximately 70% of this group indicated friend connection as the primary reason for linking through SM. Over 50% said reconnecting with friends from days gone by was the leading factor.

Although users over age 50 found connecting with friends was important, there was a significant drop-off in the number of respondents in this group that indicated this was the primary reason for joining a social network.

Staying in touch with current friends was a higher priority than reconnecting with ‘lost’ friends across all demographics.

Linking With Others That Have Similar Interests

Sharing a hobby or personal interest ranked higher for older users. Eighteen percent of Americans aged 50+ cited common interests as a primary factor for connecting via SM, whereas 16% of 30-49 year olds indicated this as a major reason. Only 10% of users under age 30 responded that sharing interests was a primary motivator.

This reason was more often given by males (56%) than females (44%). The numbers did not skew in a particular direction according to other demographic qualities.

Connecting With Public Figures

Following celebrities was not a significant reason to use SM, with roughly 75% indicating this was no factor at all. Twitter was the domain of choice when it comes to following comments by famous users. The numbers differed across ethnic lines, as nearly one in ten black social media users and 11% of Latinos said that reading celebrity comments was a major reason for using SM sites. This compares to only 3% of white users.

Finding Romantic Partners

Eighty-four percent of respondents indicated that finding love was not a reason for using SM sites. Most who expressed interest in this reason showed that is was only a minor reason. Males tended to indicate this as a minor reason more often than females (17% vs 9%).


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