Noting Social Networking Trends
The research question that was partially answered by my mini-research is two-fold. I concerned myself by asking first, what social networking sites (if any) were used by family members and peers. Secondly, if usage of these sites was confirmed, I asked the purpose for the use of these various social tools. Since, these sites are so popular, I wanted to know if there was a difference in age, gender, or any other demographic information that would make usage vary in the sample population.
I interviewed 22 people and out of those 22, 18 of them reported using some type of social networking sites. The four that did not use them claimed that they very rarely, if ever used the internet or that they had no need for these tools. Two of these respondents were over 50, but two were relatively young, white, blue-collar types. Of the 18 that did report using social networking sites, 5 of them admitted to having an account, but infrequently or never visiting the sites or utilizing them in any way.
There was no common demographic in these five, the only commonality was a response of “being too busy” or staying connected with others through other means, such as texting or “hanging out”. This leaves 13 respondents that admitted to regular using and utilizing social networking sites. Out of these 13, the ages of users ranged from 14 to 47. Both males and females were represented almost equally. Ethnically speaking, more whites than blacks were left at this stage in the sample, making whites seem slightly over represented.
Many sites were reported as being used and many reasons were given for using them. Of both younger men and women (aged 14-26 and 9 members in this subgroup) “MySpace” was cited as being the most used site with most of the respondents reporting that they used this site everyday “to stay in contact with friends”. Of this same age group, more men than women, also, reported using both “Imeem” and “Buzznet” to listen to music and/or to find new artists with “Imeem” being more popular than “Buzznet” (with only 2 of 6 using “Buzznet”).
The remaining 4 respondents were all Caucasian women from the ages of 33-47. “Facebook” was popular with all 4 for “staying connected with old friends and/or networking”. “Myspace” was unpopular with all and cited by one respondent as being “made for teens”. “Going” and “LinkedIn” were also popular with “LinkedIn” being popular with 3 and “Going” with 2. “LinkedIn” was said to be popular for business purposes and “Going” was considered a popular way to find events and parties in the surrounding areas.
This research begins to answer the two-part question, but further research and a larger group to sample may answer the question fully. These demographics were pretty universal in the popularity and reasoning for using the sites and further study could help advertisers learn how to more specifically target the demographics in and outside these sites. Also, social scientists could look at this research more broadly to gauge trends in social behavior and communication that could effect the way groups of people in different demographic categories deal with one another in jobs or in other arenas of public life.