Pew Research Center News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2016

About 6-in-10 Americans get news from social media A majority of U.S. adults – 62% – get news on social media, and 18% do so often, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center, conducted in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. In 2012, based on a slightly different question, 49% of U.S. adults reported seeing news on social media.1

But which social media sites have the largest portion of users getting news there? How many get news on multiple social media sites? And to what degree are these news consumers seeking online news out versus happening upon it while doing other things?

As part of an ongoing examination of social media and news, Pew Research Center analyzed the scope and characteristics of social media news consumers across nine social networking sites. This study is based on a survey conducted Jan. 12-Feb. 8, 2016, with 4,654 members of Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel.

Reddit, Facebook and Twitter users most likely to get news on each siteNews plays a varying role across the social networking sites studied.2 Two-thirds of Facebook users (66%) get news on the site, nearly six-in-ten Twitter users (59%) get news on Twitter, and seven-in-ten Reddit users get news on that platform. On Tumblr, the figure sits at 31%, while for the other five social networking sites it is true of only about one-fifth or less of their user bases.

It is also useful to see how, when combined with the sites’ total reach, the proportion of users who gets news on each site translates to U.S. adults overall. Facebook is by far the largest social networking site, reaching 67% of U.S. adults. The two-thirds of Facebook users who get news there, then, amount to 44% of the general population. YouTube has the next greatest reach in terms of general usage, at 48% of U.S. adults. But only about a fifth of its users get news there, which amounts to 10% of the adult population. That puts it on par with Twitter, which has a smaller user base (16% of U.S. adults) but a larger portion getting news there.

Social media news use: Facebook leads the pack

The audience overlap

To what extent do the various news audiences on social media overlap? Of those who get news on at least one of the sites, a majority (64%) get news on just one – most commonly Facebook. About a quarter (26%) get news on two of those sites. Just one-in-ten get news on three or more.

Most social media news consumers only get news on one site

Seeking out news online

Differences also emerge in how active or passive each group of news users is in their online news habits more generally. YouTube, Facebook and Instagram news users are more likely to get their news online mostly by chance, when they are online doing other things. Alternatively, the portion of Reddit, Twitter and LinkedIn news users who seek out news online is roughly similar to the portion that happen upon it.3 Instagram, Facebook and YouTube news users most likely to happen upon news online, but LinkedIn, Twitter and Reddit news users are more evenly divided between news seekers and non-seekers

The demographics of social media news consumers

A look at the demographic characteristics of news consumers on the five social networking sites with the biggest news audiences shows that, while there is some crossover, each site appeals to a somewhat different group. Instagram news consumers stand out from other groups as more likely to be non-white, young and, for all but Facebook, female. LinkedIn news consumers are more likely to have a college degree than news users of the other four platforms; Twitter news users are the second most likely. The demographics of other sites can be found in the Appendix.

Demographic profile of social networking site news users

Social news consumers and other news platforms

Social media news consumers still get news from a variety of other sources and to a fairly consistent degree across sites. For example, across the five sites with the biggest news audiences, roughly two-in-ten news users of each also get news from nightly network television news; about three-in-ten turn to local TV. One area that saw greater variation was news websites and apps. Roughly half of Twitter and LinkedIn news consumers also get news from news websites and apps, while that is true of one-third of Facebook and YouTube news users.

Social media news consumers access news on a number of other platforms

Changes over time

Growth in use of social media for news This report is an update to a 2013 report, with the addition of Snapchat and the removal of three sites: Pinterest, which has been shown to have a small portion of users who use it for news; Myspace, which has largely transitioned to a music site; and Google+, which through its recent transformations is being phased out as a social networking site. For the sites analyzed in both 2013 and 2016, a few significant differences emerge.

Of the sites we tracked since 2013, three of eight show an increase in the portion of users who get news there: Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.4

The full 2013-2016 trends for usage and demographics can be found in the Appendix.

  1. In 2012, this was asked over the phone and asked about “seeing” news rather than “getting” news. Additionally, this figure combines items about news on social media generally and news specifically on Twitter. ?
  2. News consumers for each social networking website are defined as those who answered that they “ever get news or news headlines” on each site. News is defined as “information about events and issues that involve more than just your friends or family.” ?
  3. While the portion of Reddit news users who get news online because they are looking for it is 13 percentage points higher than the portion of those users that get news while doing other things online, these numbers are not statistically different due to the small number of Reddit news users in the sample. ?
  4. Twitter’s difference between 2013 and 2016 approaches statistical significance, but does not reach significance with traditional standards. ?
Share

Pew Research Center’s Social Media Update 2014

Social Media Update 2014

% of online adults who use the following social media websites, by yearIn a new survey conducted in September 2014, the Pew Research Center finds that Facebook remains by far the most popular social media site. While its growth has slowed, the level of user engagement with the platform has increased. Other platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn saw significant increases over the past year in the proportion of online adults who now use their sites.

The results in this report are based on American adults who use the internet.1 Other key findings:

While Facebook remains the most popular social media site, its overall growth has slowed and other sites continue to see increases in usership.

Facebook continues to be the most popular social media site, but its membership saw little change from 2013. The one notable exception is older adults: For the first time in Pew Research findings, more than half (56%) of internet users ages 65 and older use Facebook. Overall, 71% of internet users are on Facebook, a proportion that represents no change from August 2013.

Every other social media platform measured saw significant growth between 2013 and 2014. Instagram not only increased its overall user figure by nine percentage points, but also saw significant growth in almost every demographic group. LinkedIn continued to grow among groups with which it was already popular, such as professionals and college graduates, while Twitter and Pinterest saw increases in usership across a variety of demographic groups.

The engagement of Facebook users continues to grow, while daily use on other platforms shows little change.

Facebook’s large base of users continues to be very active. Fully 70% engage with the site daily (and 45% do so several times a day), a significant increase from the 63% who did so in 2013. About half (49%) of Instagram users and 17% of Pinterest users engage with their respective platforms daily, although neither of these represent a significant change from 2013. Some 36% of Twitter users visit the site daily, but this actually represents a 10-point decrease from the 46% who did so in 2013. While the 13% of LinkedIn users who engage with the platform daily is unchanged from 2013, the proportion of users who use the site weekly or less often increased significantly—that is, more users log on less frequently.

52% of online adults use multiple social media sites. Facebook acts as “home base” — it remains the most popular site for those who only use one, and has significant overlap with other platforms.

Fully 52% of online adults use two or more social media sites, a significant increase from the 42% who did so in 2013. At the same time, significantly fewer adults use just one site — 28% compared with 36% last year. As in 2013, Facebook remains the most popular site among those who use only one — fully 79% of those who use just one site report using Facebook. As in years past, a significant majority of Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn users say they also use Facebook, more than any other site. At the same time, the proportion of Facebook users who also use another site is on the rise — that is, there are more Facebook users this year who also use Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn than there were in 2013.

Social media users in the entire adult population

Among all American adults ages 18+, the percent who use the following social media sitesThe results of this report are primarily focused on all internet users. In the corresponding table, the usage figures of the five social networking platforms measured are presented as a proportion of the total American adult population.

About this survey

The findings reported here were collected in omnibus surveys underwritten by the University of Michigan. The survey questions were designed in consultation with Dr. Nicole Ellison and Dr. Cliff Lampe from the University of Michigan’s School of Information. Further reports with more details about how people use social media will be produced later this year.

The results are based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from September 11 to September 14, 2014 and September 18 to September 21, 2014. Telephone interviews were conducted in English and Spanish by landline (1,002) and cell phone (1,001, including 594 without a landline phone). For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points. For results based on Internet users (n=1,597), the margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

  1. The percentage of U.S. adults who say they use the internet or email has fluctuated somewhat from survey to survey. This September 2014 survey found that 81% of adults use the internet or email at least occasionally, while 87% reported the same in a comparable omnibus survey fielded in January 2014. ?
Share