Young adults are more likely than older adults to use major social media sites, while women, African-Americans, and Latinos are most likely to use Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, according to new data from Pew Research.

Among major social media sites, Facebook is the most popular: 67% of online adults in the US use the social network.

Twitter ranks second with 16% penetration among online adults, followed by Pinterest with 15%, Instagram with 13%, and Tumblr with 6%.

Overall, Internet users under age 50 are more likely than older adults to use a social networking site of any kind, and those age 18-29 are the most likely of any demographic cohort to do so (83%).

Below, additional findings from The Demographics of Social Media Users—2012, a survey by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, which studied the demographic composition of users of various social media services.

Twitter Users

Some 16% of online adults use now use Twitter, double the proportion of Internet users who did so in November 2010. However, Twitter adoption varies dramatically by age and ethnicity:

  • Online adults under age 50, and particularly those age 18-29 (27%), are the most likely to use Twitter.
  • Blacks (26%) and Hispanics (19%) are more likely than whites (14%) to use Twitter. 
  • Urban-dwellers (20%) are more likely than both suburban (14%) and rural residents (12%) to use Twitter.


Pinterest Users

Pinterest, a site that allows users to organize and share content from around the Web by "pinning" photos and images into "pinboards," has attracted 15% of online adults; among those users:

  • Women are five times more likely than men to use the site (25% vs. 5%), the largest difference in gender of any site featured in the Pew report.
  • Pinterest is equally popular among those age 18-29 (19%) and those age 30-49 (19%).
  • Whites, young people, the well-educated, and those with higher incomes are particularly likely to use the site.

Instagram Users

Some 13% of Internet users are taking and sharing pictures with Instagram. As with Twitter, Instagram adoption varies by ethnicity:

  • African-Americans (23%) and Hispanics (18%) are more likely than whites (11%) to use Instagram.
  • Urban-dwellers (17%) are more likely than both suburban (11%) and rural residents (11%) to use Instagram.
  • Women are more likely than men to use the site (16% vs. 10%), as are those under age 50.

Facebook Users *

Facebook remains the most popular social networking platform with 67% penetration among online adults. Younger people and, to a lesser extent, women, still dominate the site:

  • Facebook is more popular among younger adults: 86% of those age 18-29 use the site, compared with 73% of those age 30-49, 57% of those age 50-64, and 35% of those age 65+.
  • Women are more likely than men to be Facebook users (72% vs. 62%).


Tumblr Users

Tumblr is the least popular social networking site featured in Pew's report.

Only 6% of adults online use Tumblr, a social blogging service that allows for easy sharing of various types of posts, including text, photos, quotes, links, music, and video.

However, Tumblr is more popular among the youngest cohort: 13% of those age 18-29 use the site. Also, with its younger audiences, Tumblr tends to attract adults with lower annual incomes, Pew found.

*Note: Figures on Facebook use are taken from a separate Pew Research Center survey titled "Coming and Going on Facebook." 

About the data: Findings are based on a survey of 1,802 online adults in the US, conducted by Pew Research Nov. 14 to Dec. 9, 2012 via landline and cell phones in English and Spanish. The report was authored by Maeve Duggan, research assistant, and Joanna Brenner, Web coordinator, both of Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, published on Feb. 14, 2013.

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Social Network Demographics: Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook

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Lenna Garibian is a MarketingProfs research writer and a marketing consultant in the tech industry, where she develops engaging content that builds thought leadership and revenue opportunities for clients. She's held marketing and research positions at eRPortal Software, GAP Inc., Stanford University, and the IMF. Reach Lenna via Twitter @LennaAnahid and LinkedIn.