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Survey: Facebook Still Most Popular Social Network, Others Gaining

Facebook continues to be the most widely used social network among online adults, according to a new survey from the University of Michigan (U-M) School of Information and the Pew Research Center.

Seventy-one percent of adults who use the Internet connect via Facebook, which matches last year's survey findings, though user engagement has increased over the same period. Facebook is also the most popular network among adults who only use one social media site, at 79 percent.

"Socially, Facebook remains a source of 'one-stop shopping' for many online adults," said Nicole Ellison, associate professor at the U-M School of Information, in a prepared statement. "Even older adults who are typically slow to adopt newer technologies are increasingly gravitating towards the site."

But those single-platform users are decreasing, according to the report. In the latest survey, 52 percent of respondents said they used two or more sites, up from 42 in the 2013 survey.

"Facebook remains home base for many social media users. It's still the most popular site and has the most engaged users," said Maeve Duggan, research analyst at the Pew Research Center, in a prepared statement. "But the greatest change relates to the activity on other platforms. More people are using a variety of platforms, and the overlap between users shows just how interwoven social media has become."

Other networks saw significant increases in users:

  • 28 percent of users are on Pinterest, up from 21 percent in 2013;
  • LinkedIn is also used by 28 percent of adult Internet users, up from 22 percent in the last survey;
  • The number of users on Instagram went up from 17 percent to 26 percent; and
  • Twitter users increased from 18 percent to 23 percent.

The growth of those other sites is a key finding of the survey, according to Cliff Lampe, associate professor at the U-M School of Information. "It speaks to people using the ecology of social media sites available to them to meet their specific communication and relationship goals," Lampe said in a news release.

Among Facebook users responding to the survey, the median number of friends on the network was 155, though the median number those users reported as being actual friends was 50.

"This suggests that users have diverse networks of people they are connected with, and that they understand that some of these relationships are with people they can rely on whereas other connections are weaker," Ellison said in a prepared statement. "Research suggests both these kinds of relationships are useful and provide different kinds of benefits."

The survey was conducted via phone by Princeton Survey Research Associates International to 2,003 adults in the United States from September 14-21.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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