Social network usage explodes

Usage of social networking sites rose sharply in 2009, thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of Facebook. eMarketer estimates that 57.5% of Internet users, or 127 million people, will use a social network at least once a month in 2010.

“There is no doubt anymore that social networks, reaching more than 50% of the total US Internet audience, are an essential part of the Internet experience,” said Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report “Social Network Demographics and Usage.”

By 2014, nearly two-thirds of all Internet users, or 164.9 million people, will be regular users of social networks.

US Social Media usage growth

Last year, the social network audience widened sharply beyond the base of teens and young adults who popularized the activity. This year, 59.2% of adult Internet users will visit social networks monthly, up from 52.4% in 2009.

“Teens and young adults are old news,” said Ms. Williamson. “This year, 60% of Internet users ages 35 to 44 and one-half of those in the 45-to-54 age group will use social networks at least once a month. Women, especially moms, are still driving much of the growth.”

By 2014, these changes will become more pronounced. More than one-half (56.8%) of 55-to-64-year-old Internet users will visit social networks regularly that year, up from 34.3% in 2009. Even seniors 65 and up, only 14.1% of whom used social networks in 2009, will get in on the act, reaching 37.9% penetration in 2014.

graph showing social media users by age

“The connections and interactions that social networking makes possible didn’t even exist a few short years ago,” said Ms. Williamson. “Status updating, commenting and sharing openly are all activities that will not go away.”

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