Social networks and their stereotypes

Posted on August 27, 2015


According to a report recently released by the American think tank Pew, users of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr often have stereotypes when it comes to their users.

Here is what the report observed:


As the undisputed king of the social media castle, Facebook is used by 72% of those on the internet, with 70% of those users logging on to the site at least once a day.


Approximately 31% of people on the internet have an account on Pinterest, yet it is not even a tenth of the size of Facebook, with only 72.8 million users. The report from Pew did however show that the site is used predominantly by women, with 44% of them having an account, as opposed to 16% of men.


Quite surprisingly, only 41% of smartphone owners between the ages of 18 and 29 use messaging app Snapchat, with the figure decreasing as the groups reach older age ranges. Therefore, according to the report, it’s safe to assume that Snapchat is dominated by ‘teenyboppers’.


Again, much like Snapchat, Pew found that Reddit is predominantly used by young people. Unsurprisingly, the site lives up to its stereotype of being male dominated, something that could be put down to some allegations of sexism against it.


It will be no shock to hear that the report found that business-centric platform LinkedIn is dominated by people wanting to develop their careers. It also found that the site is used more so by university graduates than people who have only been to high school.


The notes from Pew are surprising for Tumblr. Despite the fact that the site has 230 million users according to Statista, only 10% of internet users use the site – a lower figure than every other social networking service. Tumblr is popular with those in urban areas though, with 16% of those on the internet in such areas using the site.

Reports such as the one from Pew more often than not confirm what we could already assume, much of which is stereotyped, but they can also bring to light matters that we would have assumed incorrectly. For example, it would have been logical to assume that Tumblr is more popular than Pew’s figures suggest because of its coverage by much of the media surrounding technology.

One question does however linger from the results shown in the report, and that is “should we be stereotyping?” While social media marketing does indeed focus upon users and their preferences, is it really 100% safe to assume that trying to market something on Tumblr should be geared entirely towards people in urban areas? It would be safe to say that relying on stereotypes on social media would be naïve at best.

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