Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pew Report: Looking For Voters? Find Them On FaceBook

Pew Internet and American Life Project: Nearly half of all U.S. adults use some kind of social-networking site, from Facebook to LinkedIn, and these people are more likely to vote and be politically active.

The Pew report found that 79 percent of U.S. adults use the Internet, and 59 percent of these Internet users also use social networking. This is nearly twice as many as in 2008, and they are getting older, the report found.

“Among other things, this means the average age of adult social networking site users has shifted from 33 in 2008 to 38 in 2010,” the report states. “Over half of all adult SNS users are now over the age of 35. Some 56 percent of SNS users now are female.”

And despite LinkedIn’s stunning IPO last month, Facebook rules when it comes to social networking, with 92 percent of people who use social networking on Facebook, 29 percent on MySpace, 18 percent on LinkedIn, and 13 percent on Twitter.

Social networking can be a powerful tool for political organizing, the report finds.

“Internet users in general were over twice as likely to attend a political meeting, 78 percent more likely to try and influence someone’s vote, and 53 percent more likely to have voted or intended to vote,” the report reads.

“Compared with other Internet users, and users of other [social-networking] platforms, a Facebook user who uses the site multiple times per day was an additional two and a half times more likely to attend a political rally or meeting, 57 percent more likely to persuade someone on their vote, and an additional 43 percent more likely to have said they would vote. “

But LinkedIn users were found to be the most politically active. “Fourteen percent of LinkedIn users attended a political rally, 36 percent tried to persuade someone to vote, and 79 percent reported that they did or intended to vote,” the report says. This compares to 66 percent of Americans in general who say they intend to vote and 41 percent who actually do.

The report also confirms that social media does what it’s supposed to do – bring people together.

“Controlling for other factors, we found that someone who uses Facebook several times per day averages 9 percent more close, core ties in their overall social network compared with other Internet users,” the report states.

“Internet users in general score three [percentage] points higher in total support, six points higher in companionship, and four points higher in instrumental support.”

And these are “real” friends, the report concludes – only 3 percent of Facebook friends are people users have never met in person, and only 7 percent are people they have met only once.

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