Facebook still dominant as half of British adults use social networks

social media word cloudIpsos Mori has released its quarterly ‘tech tracker’ report for the first quarter of 2013, and found that now 50% of British adults access social networks, with nearly half of all adults using Facebook in the last 3 months.

Tellingly, more than half of adults access social networks via a smartphone, showing how important it is for networks to perfect their mobile offering and revenue streams.

While Facebook is clearly still the dominant force, news is positive for Twitter too, with a steady 16% of the British population using the 140 character service. However, this does show advertisers and media producers that while Twitter may grab all the headlines, Facebook is still where the major audience is.

While people tend to look at Google’s social offering, Google+, as the poor relation of Facebook and Twitter, 17% used it in the last three months. The biggest problem for Google though, is sustained usage. Interestingly, while more women than men use Facebook (52%) and Twitter (51%), men are the biggest users of Google+ (54%).

LinkedIn though has the most gender disparity, with usage stacked 67% to 33% in favour of men. The fact that significantly more men than women utilise a professional social network throws up a variety of issues around work place networking that probably require separate analysis.

In terms of age, the bulk of Twitter users (40%) are aged 15-24, and over half are aged under 35. The tech tracker also points out that they are likely to be from a higher socio-economic background, and very mobile connected, with 86% of users owning a smartphone. It rather shows the problems of judging trending topics and Twitter outrage as broad public opinion.

Facebook also has a young audience, although it’s not as dramatic as Twitter 27% are aged 15-24, and 22% aged 25-34 (so that’s just under half of users aged under 35.) Interestingly, a significant number of users, 13%, are aged over 55 compared to just 8% on Twitter.

YouTube demographics are particularly interesting. Use is 54-46 in favour of men, with the biggest number of users (24%) coming from the 15-24 age range. However, use is the most evenly spread across the age ranges, with 17% of 45-54 year olds, and 16% of over 55s still using the video network. Ownership of tablets and smartphones is also lowest amongst YouTube users compared with the other social networks.

Overall though, despite the continuing rise of social networks, it is  email that still dominates our Internet usage, with 77% saying they used the internet to send or receive emails in the last 3 months, up 5% from the same time last year. Sometimes you just need more than 140 characters or a ‘Like’ button.