Posted on May 28, 2016

This article excerpt, by Small Business Trends author JoAnn McFarland, originally appeared here:…

With the Internet increasingly available to the public, reaching out to the rural areas, social media usage has been on the rise. This has created a forum that enables small businesses to reach target customers more easily.

The Pew Research Center has released a study that looks for social media usage trending by different groups. The study suggests U.S. social media usage overall is at about 65 percent in 2015, nearly 10 times the 7 percent of the population on social media in 2005.

But the social media usage study also looks at more specific data, acknowledging the overall increase in social media usage, but also asking by whom and how much? The study breaks it down according to age, education, sex, race and location. Previous studies measured social media use against total Internet users where this study evaluates it against total adult population.

Social Media Use by Age

The Pew social media usage study shows significant increases from 2005 to present in all age groups, but the 18-to-29-year-old age group maintains an impressive lead at 90 percent using social media, while the 50 years and older groups are being dragged kicking and screaming into
the twenty-first century with only 35 percent usage. As the population ages, that should continue to increase.

Perhaps this means that if your business targets older customers, you may want to include an 800 number instead of only online ordering. On the other hand, young people who are constantly walking around with their nose in a smartphone have no such problem.

Social Media Use by Income and Education

It’s not surprising that the income and education surveys run at similar levels since those with higher education tend to earn more. Social media use is at about 76-78 percent among those who make $75,000 or more and are college graduates. By contrast, usage is at about 54-56 percent among those who make less than $30,000 or less, and are high school graduates or never finished high school.

Of course, finding your target audience is important. Things like electronics and other goods favored by young adults should do well in social forums, as would products aimed at the well to do. Items favored by the older population might do better with ads on blogs and magazines with phone or mail-order options included.

Social media can be used in many ways. There are traditional types of ads placed along the borders of user’s entries. Many businesses sign up their business for a Facebook page or Twitter account of its own and use incentives to get users to ‘like’ the page.

Businesses that don’t take advantage of the growing use of social media may find themselves falling behind.

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