18-24-Year-Olds on Facebook Boast an Average of 510 Friends

April 3, 2013

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Digital | Mobile Phone | Social Media | Youth & Gen X

ArbitronEdisonResearch-Avg-Number-of-Facebook-Friends-by-Age-Apr201362% of Americans aged 12 and up report having a profile on a social network, and Facebook is easily dominant, used by 58% of Americans of that age, per results [download page] from a study conducted by Arbitron and Edison Research. Among age groups, 18-24-year-olds are the most likely to have a profile on a social network (86%), and also sport the highest average number of Facebook friends, at 510.

12-17-year-old Facebook users are close behind, with an average of 506 friends, with a significant drop among older age groups. Overall, Facebook users (aged 12+) responding to the study reported an average of 303 friends, up from last year’s average of 262. That’s important for brands marketing on Facebook, as research has shown that earned brand impressions influence buying behavior.

Contrary to recent research from the Pew Internet & American Life Project suggesting that social networking adoption has leveled out, the Arbitron and Edison Research study indicates that the percentage of Americans with a social networking profile has grown every year since at least 2008, and is up 6% points from last year. Adoption has grown across each age group, but is fastest on a relative basis among older groups:

  • Up 26.1% among those 65 and older (29% vs. 23%); and
  • Up 26.5% among 55-64-year-olds (43% vs. 34%).

There is solid growth among other age groups, too. For example, the percentage of 35-44-year-olds with a social networking profile has grown 12.3% year-over-year, to 73%, while the proportion of 25-34-year-olds with a profile has increased by 17.6%, to 80%.

What’s more, the percentage of Americans aged 12 and up who are using social networking sites “several times per day” continues to grow, up from 22% last year to 27% this year. That figure jumps to 39% among smartphone owners, a result that tracks with recent research demonstrating the importance of mobile access for social media use.

Other Findings:

  • Beyond Facebook, the top social networks (in terms of adoption by those aged 12 and up) are LinkedIn (17%), Twitter (15%), MySpace (14%), Google+ (12%), Instagram (12%), Pinterest (10%), and Tumblr (4%). While Tumblr is low on the list, time spent with that platform is far higher than for any other save for Facebook.
  • 44% of respondents indicate that they hear about tweets through media such as TV, radio, newspapers, or websites other than Twitter almost every day. Another 21% say they hear about them through these media regularly, but not daily.
  • 41% of Facebook users notice a lot more company, brand, or product-related content in their Facebook newsfeed compared with one year ago. Another 21% notice a little more now.

About the Data: In January/February 2013, Arbitron and Edison Research conducted a national telephone survey offered in both English and Spanish language (landline and cell phone) of 2,021 people aged 12 and older. Data were weighted to national 12+ population figures.

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