Need to Know Basis – Deciphering the “Social Media Update 2014” Pew Report

| 2060 Digital

In the first quarter of 2015, the Pew Research Center published its findings regarding social media use among adults (ages 18+) in “Social Media Update 2014.” The Pew report is based on a September 2014 nationwide phone survey of adult Internet users, and covered such metrics as demographic differences and frequency of social media site usage. Below are some key insights into the changing tastes of today’s social media user base so you better tailor your social media marketing to what works for your target audience.


  • Facebook is still far and away the leading social media site on the Web. 71 percent of American adults with Internet access use Facebook, a percentage that has not changed from Pew’s previous data collection period in August of 2013.

  • One of the most notable upticks in activity has been in reference to the amount of senior citizens using Facebook; this number has increased substantially from late 2013. Roughly 56 percent of adults ages 65 and older are now using Facebook, a 10 percent increase from the previous year, and a 20 percent jump from two years ago.

  • In keeping with the prevailing trend from previous years, women are more likely to be Facebook users than men.

  • The median number of Facebook friends for the average Facebook user is 155. Of this number, roughly half are considered to be “real” friends according to respondents.

  • Family relationships seem to dominate the Facebook microcosm. 93 percent of Facebook users are friends with family members other than their parents or children on Facebook.

  • 91 percent of Facebook users have officially “friended” their real-life friends on Facebook.

  • 87 percent of Facebook users regularly keep up with friends from their past, including high school and college classmates.

  • In terms of engagement, Facebook is also the clear leader. 70 percent of the users surveyed said that they check their Facebook accounts daily, with 45 percent of that number claiming that they do so several times during the day. Facebook’s engagement metrics beat all of other social networks by a wide margin, with the closest runner-up being Instagram, where 49 percent of users claim to log into their accounts on a daily basis.

Facebook Takeaways: If you’re looking to build a social media strategy that relies heavily upon regular interaction and relational connections, Facebook will more than likely give you the most bang for your buck. In addition, if you market a product or service that caters to seniors, you have a rapidly growing target audience to tap into by way of Facebook.


  • Usage of Twitter has increased significantly from late 2013, with 23 percent of adults online now regularly using the service (a 5 percent increase year-over-year).

  • Twitter currently seems to find its main audience with college-educated adults under the age of 50.

  • Several demographic groups have seen a spike in Twitter activity, including whites, men, urbanites and individuals who live in households that earn $50,000 a year or more.

  • 36 percent of Twitter users make a daily habit of visiting the site, and 22 percent of that number visit several times throughout the day. This is a pretty steep slide from the 46 percent of users who visited the site daily only one year prior.

Twitter Takeaways: If you’re looking to promote your product or service via Twitter, recognize that only 1 in 4 adult Internet users are active on Twitter, with only a little over one-third of that number visiting the site on a daily basis. Unless you have very deep pockets, any foray into the world of Twitter marketing will need to be well thought out and highly targeted.


  • Roughly 26 percent of all adult Internet users are on Instagram, a 9 percent increase from the previous year. This indicates a rise in the photo-sharing site’s popularity across the board.

  • Instagram usage among young adults (ages 18-29) has grown by leaps and bounds, with 53 percent of this demographic now using the service, a 16 percent increase from the previous year. Women are the dominant demographic among Instagram users as well, along with African-Americans, Hispanics and urbanites.

  • Roughly half of all Instagram users visit the site daily, with 32 percent of that number visiting several times per day.

Instagram Takeaways: If you plan to market to a young adult audience using highly visual means, you basically have a gold mine in Instagram. If your product or service caters to young adult women in particular, it will be hard to find a more targeted audience than what you will have access to on Instagram. 


  • 28 percent of all adults, and 42 percent of all women online, are Pinterest users.

  • The number of users aged 50 or older has seen a sizable jump in activity, up 11 percent from 2013 to 2014.

  • Pinterest usage among men has increased from only 8 percent in 2013 to 13 percent in 2014.

  • A relatively low percentage of Pinterest users (only 17 percent) access the site on a daily basis. Of that number, only 9 percent are visiting the site multiple times per day.

Pinterest Takeaways: Not much has changed from previous years as far as who your target audience should be for Pinterest: Women. DIY and interior design themes seem to dominate the Pinterest landscape as well, both of which have tremendous female fan bases on Pinterest. If you plan to embark on a marketing campaign for Pinterest, be sure to concentrate your delivery within a short span of time, because this is not a site that many users visit on a daily basis.


  • 28 percent of all adults are LinkedIn users, a 6 percent increase from the previous year.

  • LinkedIn continues to be very popular among college graduates, young professionals and higher-income households.

  • An interesting trend of note is that site usage among unemployed individuals has increased to 21 percent, up from only 12 percent in the previous year. 

  • LinkedIn is the only social media site where the 30-64 age demographic is more likely to use the site than individuals between the ages of 18 and 29.

  • Fully 50 percent of all college graduates use LinkedIn.

  • LinkedIn ranks the lowest of all social sites in terms of daily usage; only 13 percent of LinkedIn users visit the site every day.

LinkedIn Takeaways: LinkedIn is an ideal platform for marketers looking to target college graduates and young professionals with their products or services. The recent increase in unemployed LinkedIn users could also signify a marketing opportunity for businesses that provide services to individuals who are seeking employment. 

Overall, the Pew report for social media shows that the average American adult is becoming more Internet-savvy, and more connected to the online world by way of social media. This integration of social networking into the regular routine of American adults represents a significant shift in the way they are choosing to spend their time. While Facebook remains the most popular social platform for adults who use only one social media website, the general trend of multiple social media site usage continues to increase. This implies that more and more social media marketing opportunities are becoming available to businesses of all kinds, a trend that shows no sign of slowing any time soon.