The Social Habit – Frequent Social Networkers

Social Networking has exploded in popularity over the past two years, with the percentage of Americans maintaining a profile page on one or more social sites doubling from 24% in 2008 to 48% in 2010. Even more remarkably, as social networking has entered the mainstream, it has also quickly become not just an occasional diversion but a habitual part of American life. In 2009, 18% of social networkers in America checked their sites and services several times a day. Just one year later, this figure stands at 30%, even as the total number of social networkers has grown. With both numbers growing dramatically, the actual number of Americans with “the social habit,” who check their social media sites multiple times per day, has more than doubled, from approximately 18 million to 39 million.

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This new report, based upon the 18th Edison Research/Arbitron Internet and Multimedia Research Series, examines these habitual social networkers, providing information on demographics, status updating behaviors, mobile access and how social media has affected their consumption of other media. The data is based upon a nationally representative telephone survey of 1,753 Americans (including 371 mobile phone interviews) ages 12+ conducted in February, 2010.

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Principal Findings

1. With both usage of social networks and the frequency of that usage increasing dramatically, we are truly witnessing a sea change in how mainstream consumers communicate.

2. Americans who check social networking sites several times per day are much more likely to be young, and female.

3. Mobile access to social media is almost certainly a significant contributor to frequency of usage.

4. Frequent social networkers are also more likely to update their status on those networks – i.e., create content online – which has implications for word-of-mouth marketing and search.

5. Not only are frequent social networkers posting more status updates, they are also more likely to follow brands/companies than the average social media user – which makes identifying and appealing to those with the “social habit” crucial for brands.

6. The data for frequent social networkers’ usage of podcasts, online video and online audio supports the assumption that a significant amount of content is being consumed on-demand, potentially at the point where such content is shared.

7. Americans with “the social habit” are watching significantly less traditional television, but potentially consuming (and sharing) more “video” through alternative means.

8. Pandora is already the dominant online audio brand with frequent social networkers. These consumers’ propensity for posting status updates and other content, combined with Pandora’s recent moves to integrate with Facebook, will likely position Pandora as the dominant music discovery brand online.

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