A Multicultural Social Media Study that’s Missing Something

Mar 7, 2013

How did this one manage to get away from me for three weeks? Sneaky little devil.

Social MediaOn Valentine’s Day, the Pew Research Center released a report titled The Demographics of Social Media Users – 2012. It’s a snapshot of America’s racial, ethnic, age and socioeconomic groups’ social media preferences, focusing on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook.

Here are a few highlights of the US-only report:


  • 16% of Internet users are on Twitter
  • Those identifying as Black (26%) had the largest number of tweeters, followed by Hispanics (18%) and Whites (11%).
  • 20% of tweeters are in urban areas and 27% are between 18-29 years old


  • 25% of female Internet users are on it, compared to 5% of males
  • Both the 18-29 and the 30-49 age groups have 19% of users on Pinterest
  • Those identifying as White (18%), rural residents (18%) and college graduates (20%) had the highest percentage of “pinners.” Blacks and Hispanics had 8% and 10%, respectively.


  • Again, those identifying as Black (23%) had the largest number of users, followed by Hispanics (18%) and Whites (11%).
  • The 18-29 age group had 28% of users on Instagram, twice as many as the 30-49 group (14%).
  • 15% of Instagram users have “some college” while 17% live in urban areas.

Tumblr (the least popular site studied):

  • Those identifying as Hispanic had the highest number (8%) of users, followed by Whites (6%) and Blacks (5%)
  • It was far more popular among the 18-29 age group (13%) than among the others, none of which came close to cracking double digits
  • Most popular among those earning over $75K and under $30K a year – 8% and 6%, respectively

Facebook (obviously the most popular site studied):

  • Women (72%) use it more than men (62%)
  • Almost every demographic studied – gender, age, education, income and urbanity – posted numbers above 57%, except those aged 65 and over (35%). Race/ethnicity was not studied.
  • Most popular among users with some college (73%), those making over $75K a year (73%) and urban dwellers (72%)

This is all great information that brands and marketers can harness to target audiences by ever-more-precise segments. But take a closer look. Can you tell me what’s missing here? I’ll give you a clue… it’s a complete demographic.

Where are the Asian-Americans? No report on US demographic/technological trends is complete without them!

It’s not as if Pew is unaware of their existence: Last summer it released the results of a study, titled The Rise of Asian Americans, which found that this segment has overtaken Latinos as the fastest-growing racial/ethnic group in the country. They are also, on average, the highest-income and best-educated demographic.

It’s ironic that they’ve been left out of this report, because Nielsen published a study of its own in December 2012 about interaction with, and receptivity to, ads on social media.

And who are the most likely to share and “like” social ads as well as buy upon seeing them? You guessed it: Asian-Americans. Latinos were the next most likely to do all three.

Clearly, US consumers of Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Korean, Filipino, Vietnamese, Thai, Laotian and Singaporean descent (I’m sure I’m missing a few here) are not to be ignored.

Asian-Americans’ buying power is set to reach $1 trillion by 2017. Put that together with the other results of Pew’s own study on this demographic, and it’s clear that neither researchers nor marketers should ever overlook this group again.

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