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TODD SMITH — Social networking jumps nearly tenfold in past decade



Nearly two-thirds of American adults (65 percent) use social networking sites, up from 7 percent when Pew Research Center began systematically tracking social media usage in 2005. Pew Research reports have documented in great detail how the rise of social media has affected such things as work, politics and political deliberation, communications patterns around the globe, as well as the way people get and share information about health, civic life, news consumption, communities, teenage life, parenting, dating and even people’s level of stress.

A special analysis of 27 national surveys of Americans across the past decade documents this substantial spread of technology throughout the population, although the overall number of users of social networking sites has leveled off since 2013.1 At the same time, there continues to be growth in social media usage among some groups that were not among the earliest adopters, including older Americans.

The figures reported here are for social media usage among all adults, not just among those Americans who are Internet users. In many previous Pew Research reports, the share of social media users has been reported as the proportion of Internet users who had adopted such sites, rather than the full adult population, which continues to include a relatively small share (currently 15 percent) who still remains offline. In this report, a broader picture of the American landscape is presented, and so the figures are based on the entire adult population.

Across demographic groups, a number of trends emerge in this analysis of social media usage:

» Age differences: Seniors make strides – Young adults (ages 18 to 29) are the most likely to use social media – fully 90 percent do. Still, usage among those 65 and older has more than tripled since 2010 when 11 percent used social media. Today, 35 percent of all those 65 and older report using social media, compared with just 2 percent in 2005.

» Gender differences: Women and men use social media at similar rates – Women were more likely than men to use social networking sites for a number of years, although since 2014 these differences have been modest. Today, 68 percent of all women use social media, compared with 62 percent of all men.

» Socio-economic differences: Those with higher education levels and household income lead the way – Over the past decade, it has consistently been the case that those in higher-income households were more likely to use social media. More than half (56 percent) of those living in the lowest-income households now use social media, though growth has leveled off in the past few years. Turning to educational attainment, a similar pattern is observed. Those with at least some college experience have been consistently more likely than those with a high school degree or less to use social media over the past decade. 2013 was the first year that more than half of those with a high school diploma or less used social media.

» Racial and ethnic similarities: There are not notable differences by racial or ethnic group: 65 percent of whites, 65 percent of Hispanics and 56 percent of African-Americans use social media today.

» Community differences: More than half of rural residents now use social media – Those who live in rural areas are less likely than those in suburban and urban communities to use social media, a pattern consistent over the past decade. Today, 58 percent of rural residents, 68 percent of suburban residents, and 64 percent of urban residents use social media.

A full archive of Pew Research Center reports on different social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn as well as about social media usage on mobile devices in general can be found at: http://www.pewinternet.org/topics/social-networking/.

NYT Creates Digital Team To Advance Viral Stories

The New York Times has created a new newsroom unit to tackle the types of stories that are going viral on the web.

Headed up by Patrick LaForge, the “Express Team” “will cover news that readers are searching for and talking about online, but also push that news forward rather than just repackaging it for clicks,” according to a staff memo signed by executive editor Dean Baquet, deputy executive editor Susan Chira, editor for innovation and strategy Kinsey Wilson, and assistant editor Clifford Levy.

“This new team will quickly and smartly weigh in on the issues and questions that are attracting attention across the day and around the world,” they wrote.

The move comes as the Times’ is becoming ever more aggressive about scaling its digital audience, which is becoming more important to revenue growth.

The Express Team is essentially a revving up of the Times’ “rewrite” desk, which responds to breaking news stories as they unfold in real time.

According to the memo, the Times recently has been experimenting with a bigger rewrite team dedicated to “covering the web’s most compelling and fast-moving stories.” LaForge’s appointment is part of an effort to “take over and enlarge this initiative.”

Rather than resisting aggregation, the Times seems to be moving to ensure that it can keep pace with fast-moving competitors, without sacrificing the paper’s commitment to high-quality journalism and accuracy.

More broadly, the organization is attempting to build a first-rate digital news organization, backed by an audience engagement team that can help reach new readers and convince them of the value of Times journalism. That effort, which involves reallocating resources away from print-centric roles, was laid out in part in an Oct. 7 strategy memo that charted a plan to double the company’s digital revenue by 2020.

Profitable Mic  |The Washington Times Dives Into The Black

The Spin Cycle is proud to report that my former newspaper  – The Washington Times – has finally turned a profit!

Some said it could never be done. But it has! The Washington Times announced recently it achieved in September the first profitable month in its 33-year history, successfully transforming a traditional money-losing print publication into a leaner multimedia company with diverse revenue streams and a growing national audience.

The media landscape has been significantly unforgiving in recent years. Cutbacks, job losses and “newspaper death watches” have been the norm since 2009 as the Internet proved to be a profound game-changer in the media business. The Times went into reinvention mode, but never abandoned its original calling as a credible news source with a conservative backbone.

The journey has been long. The announcement comes after a three-decade run in which The Times achieved outsize influence in the nation’s capital while accumulating losses that far exceeded $1 billion since its inception in 1982.

Under President and CEO Larry Beasley’s watch, The Times went from losing more than $2 million a month at the end of 2012 to profitability in less than three years, while more than doubling its Web audience to become the 17th largest newspaper online, according to the Pew Research Center.

The unexpected announcement was cheered by many of The Times’ longest-serving employees, who stood fast through the startup of a newspaper meant to take on the much-larger Washington Post. With a combination of credibility, optimism, grit and guts, the staff has shepherded the brand and its content through both robust and lean years. This former staffer tips his notebook to some of the best journalism in the land – and gives this stalwart bastion of journalistic excellence a well-deserved Golden Mic!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.


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