A new survey by credit information agency Experian shows that social networking usage is up significantly over last year.
Indeed, 43% of Americans are addicted to social media, according to Experian’s 2010 Social Networking Report. Additionally, 66% of all Americans use social networking sites, up from the 20% that were using them in 2007.
This data, included in the New Media Study conducted by Experian subsidiary Simmons, a market research bureau, was obtained as part of the organization’s ongoing National Consumer Survey, which polls more than 25,000 adults annually on a variety of topics. The social media survey focused on amount of usage as well as how the networks are utilized.
The 43% of respondents considered “addicted” visit social media sites multiple times a day. This is 28% over last year’s data. Interestingly, users who cop to less frequent site visits, ranging from once a day to once a month, were down from last year.
The study indicates that people are becoming increasingly dependent on social media as a major means of communication. While social networks are frequented the most by 18-to-34-year-olds, 41% of adults 50 years or older make monthly visits to sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. This may be because a growing number of people are using the sites to keep in touch with family members.
According to the study, 70% of respondents said their social network helped them stay close with relatives, up from the 61% of respondents in last year’s survey. Also, 7% of social networkers communicate with their parents via social media websites and 22% connect with their kids, up from 9% and 15% respectively a year ago. Most impressively, 88% of surveyed respondents use the site to keep in touch with friends and 73% use it “for fun.” Only 5% said that social media was part of their job and only 9% use it to new professional contacts.
Experian focused on social networking because, according to the report, “forward thinking marketers leverage the power of social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and more to connect to consumers in a more personal and meaningful way.” In accordance with this sentiment, the study pointed out that 68% (or two-thirds) of all social networkers say have supported “a product, service, company or musical group” via their social media fan pages.