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Know Your Audience: How to Use Social Media Demographics to Market Efficiently

How to Use Social Media Demographics to Market Efficiently

In today’s marketing universe, “Social Media” is a catchall phrase; it encompasses any number of websites, themes, and strategies.  And with the urgency and fast-paced attitude that new media lends itself to, it’s easy to slip into a mindset of “more is more;” the more blogs you publish, posts you make, or tweets you send, the more your message will reach your target audience.  But that’s not always true.  In fact, it’s hardly ever true.

Let’s consider an example – think about Under Armour, one of the leading brands in cold-weather sporting gear.  You wouldn’t expect Under Armour to run an ad for their winter brands in Texas in the middle of the summer, would you?   The same is true social media marketing; understanding where your audience resides is crucial to getting the right message across.  Fortunately, after taking a look at the Pew Research Center’s annual report on Social Media (published at the end of 2013), I’ve put together your guide to how to get the word out in the right places, so you don’t end up trying to sell bathing suits in Alaska…

The Big Picture:

According to the survey, almost 75% of online adults are now on at least one social networking website, and just shy of one half (42%) are using multiple social sites.  In case the point hasn’t already been made abundantly clear, social sites aren’t going away.  A huge portion of potential consumers is there for the taking… but where are they specifically?

The largest section of social media users comes from 18-29 year olds, with 89% saying they use at least one social platform.  From there, we see a steady drop off in use; 72% of 30-49 year olds use social, 60% of 50-60 year olds, and only 43% of seniors.

But perhaps what’s more important is how these users are taking advantage of social media.  To answer this question, I’ve gone step-by-step through the major platforms to try to breakdown their most common users, and how they’re using the site.


When we’re talking about adults who are online, over 7 out of every ten of them are on Facebook (71%).  And contrary to some who think the site has hit its peak, those numbers are up from 67% in Pew’s 2012 report.  It seems Zuckerberg is continuing to produce*.  Facebook’s users, however, tend to be younger and less affluent.  If you’re looking to find a college student ready to purchase relatively cheap consumer goods – you’ll be safe advertising via Facebook. 

Facebook users are also extremely active, with 63% of users saying the use the site at least once a day.


LinkedIn StatisticsLinkedIn is the businessman’s social site.  In terms of making connections, gaining professional knowledge and engaging with thought leaders in specific fields, LinkedIn is the dominant favorite amongst social media forums.  As you can see from the image below (originally published in Business Insider),

While it may be dwarfed by Facebook in terms of total users (Only 22% of online adults say they use LinkedIn, as opposed to 71% for Facebook), it is still the second most popular of the major social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest).  Furthermore, the typical LinkedIn user is highly educated with a higher income, which makes the networking site a hot-spot for advertisers.


Pinterest Social Media StatsPinterest saw the most growth in percentage of online users from 2012 to 2013.  This Pew Center graphic shows that Pinterest now trumps twitter in terms of percentage of online adults using the site.  But what’s more interesting is that Pinterest’s growth seems to be coming primarily from their mobile app.  According to Business Insider, the site represents nearly one half (48.2%) of total social media sharing on iPads.

Among the big topics shared on Pinterest: food and drink recipes, pictures, and suggestions, as well as parenting-related posts.

Oh, and one more important note: four times as many women (33%) say they use Pinterest than men (8%). 

Other Sites:

InstagramAccording to Business Insider statistics, over 90% of Instagram users are under the age of 35.  If you’re looking to target young millennials, the picture and video-sharing site is a good place to start.

Reddit – According to the Pew Research Center, 15% of male internet users ages 18-29 are using Reddit, with a large percentage of that number being made up of Hispanic users.  Reddit can safely be described as a “developing” social media platform, but its growing popularity certainly makes it one to watch.

So there you have it – a better understanding of who goes where and why.  Remember the four P’s of marketing when you consider what to post online. Are you spending your ad budget efficiently?  It may sound old-fashioned, but knowing your audience is as crucial in today’s marketing world as it was before the dawn of the internet era.

Join The Conversation

  • Christine Holley's picture
    May 23 Posted 3 years ago Christine Holley

    That's exactly right Erin, thanks for the great comment!  Knowing who your target audience is, which social networks they're using (if any), and what they use those platforms for is essential in order to reach your audience properly.  

  • ErinRead's picture
    May 23 Posted 3 years ago ErinRead

    Kudos, Christine, for reminding marketers to consider the who and the how before they choose the where / social platform!

    Creating Results' "Social, Silver Surfers" research shows that if your who is 50+ adults (baby boomers and seniors), they're most likely using Facebook. (Stats & pretty charts at

    And how older adults are using social is to connect with family and friends made offline, or for career reasons. They are not using it to connect with brands. In fact, our national study ( found that only 10% of social networkers over 40 said "yes" they’d like to be an organization's friend, follower or fan. 22% said "maybe."

    That leaves 67% of older adults who don't want to engage via social. Knowing audience preference is critical!

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