Social media is not ubiquitous. In fact, says a Pew Internet survey released on Friday, just half of U.S. adults are logged on to sites like MySpace, Facebook or LinkedIn.
In Pew’s phone survey of 2,277 adults, 65% of Internet users said they use social media. For the first time, 50% of respondents — regardless of whether they use the Internet — said that they did the same.
But they’re less than ecstatic about it. In a word cloud that the study made to show responses to the question “What is one word that describes your experience using social networking sites?” The most common answer was a standard “good.”
It’s easy for the quick growth of social media use to give the impression that everybody uses it enthusiastically. In a similar study that Pew conducted in 2008, just 29% of all Internet users said that they used social media — its adoption has more than doubled in three years.
But email is still the most popular online activity among Internet users, with 61% of survey respondents using it every day. Search engines are the second-most popular activity, with 59% of respondents using them daily. Less than half, just 43%, of Internet users said that they used social media daily.
Growth of social media is largely fueled by seniors, who still aren’t nearly as likely as younger age groups to use it every day. In the past two years, social networking use among Internet users age 65 and older has increased 150% while social media use among Internet users under age 30 has remained about stable (according to Pew, 83% of them use social networks).
“The graying of social networking sites continues, but the oldest users are still far less likely to be making regular use of these tools,” said Mary Madden, senior research specialist and co-author of the report, in a blog post about the research.
The 30- to 49-year-old crowd has been quickly closing the social media usage gap between themselves and the under 30 demographic. In 2008, 42% fewer respondents in the older demographic used social media than the younger demographic. Now the gap between the two age groups is 13%. So too, has the gap between the percentage of the two age groups who use social media daily decreased, from 29% in 2008 to 15% in 2011.
If baby boomers and seniors follow a similar pattern in closing the gap, we might be able to call social media dominant. For now, overall adoption of social media, like sentiment toward it, is still “good.”