Recent research carried out by Pew Research reveals that 71% of "online adults" use Facebook, often two or more times a day. Next in line, and way down the line, are LinkedIn (22%) and Pinterest (21%). It's a bit surprising that Twitter (18%) and Instagram (17%) come in last in the survey.
The differences can be partially explained by demographics. The fastest growing group in Facebook (as shown in other research) is the 45 - 60 age group, a large and powerful demographic. While Twitter is famously popular, it is mostly with young people and certain minorities, not as large a group. LinkedIn is popular as a business relationships tool and the demographic is dominated by young well educated professionals. Most users of Pinterest are female.
But these demographics don't tell the whole story. There are various pockets of usage. For example Twitter is widely used by business for making corporate announcements.
Social media is used by 73% of the online adult population and Facebook has the widest range of demographic among its users. Another Pew study revealed that 74% of adults go online. So we're talking about a major portion of the population that uses social media. That's significant for many reasons.
Business has known for a few years now that social media is important as a tool for reaching their customers and other stakeholders. Many are still struggling with how to make best use of that fact. Some have embraced social media to the point that they are sometimes labelled as social businesses. Others are into select areas, such as Social CRM and Social PR.
The effect is a massive shift in spending - from traditional media to social media.
What the long range effect of this shift will be on social media remains to be seen. We can be sure that the effects will be significant, including formalization, legislative frameworks, rules, specialization, customization, etc.. For the Pew Study, check out this link.