Addictive or Useful? 43% of Social Networkers Visit Multiple Times Per Day

A new report by Experian Simmons documents the incredible growth of social networking in the US.  66% of online Americans use social networking sites today, up from just 20% in 2007.  43% of those who access such sites report that they visit them multiple times per day – this number is up by 28% from last year. In light of this data, Experian labels social networking as “an increasingly addictive activity”  yet goes on to detail how users are connecting with friends, family, and brands through these sites.  Are users increasing their visits to social networks out of ‘addiction’ or simply because they are useful ways to connect with others and to show preferences to those within one’s network?  Steve Rubel at Edelman Digital entitled his coverage of the report “43% of Online Americans Addicted to Social Networking” and also emphasized the rapid increase in both the number of social network users and the frequency of site visits per user.  

70% of social networkers now keep in touch with family via their various online networks, up from 61% a year ago, showing a shift as those who signed up for social networking to keep in touch with friends are using these sites to connect with family members as well.

Two-thirds of all online adults today have visited a social networking site in the last 30 days, up from 53% in 2008 and 20% in 2007. Social networks have thoroughly penetrated the young adult market, as nearly 9-in-10 online 18-to 34-year-olds visit such sites today. Older Americans are definitely involved as well, with 41% of online adults age 50 and older making monthly visits to sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.

The rise of social networking tracks closely with that of Facebook. As of April 26, 2010, 46% of the U.S. online adult population reported having visited Facebook in the past 30 days.

An astounding two-thirds of social networking site visitors (68%) say they have shown their support of a product, service, company or musical group by becoming a “fan” or a “friend” on a social networking site – this number is up 9% from last year.

Knowing that social networkers are comfortable connecting with products and brands they support, it’s important to understand which brands have the best opportunity to connect with this group. Specifically, Facebook users are full twice as likely as the average American adult to shop at H&M. Twitter visitors are 3.7 times more likely to shop at Nordstrom.

Geographically, the report shows that heavy users of social networking sites are primarily concentrated in the Northwest and markets that are heavily influenced by major colleges or universities.

See the 2010 Social Networking Report on Experian Simmons for more information, graphs, and the full PDF report.