Enormous popularity of social networks like Facebook and Twitter have made status updates and tweets a routine activity for millions of Americans. According to the estimate by eMarketer, in 2011, 150 million US internet users will engage with social networks at least once a month.
The reach of social media sites has been increasing rapidly over the past few years. The number of US social network users increased from 113 million in 2009 to 134.6 million in 2010. The figures for this year and the next two years are likely to be around 147.8 million, 157.8 million and 164.2 million respectively.
This indicates that the percentage of internet population engaging with social networks increased from 52.3% in 2009 to 60.1% in 2010. Percentages are expected to be around 63.7%, 66% and 67% in 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively.
Based on age, the highest penetration is observed in the age group of 18-24, with 93% internet users falling in this group using social networks. Other age groups with high social media usage include 12-17 and 25-34, both reporting 85% penetration. With such high penetration, the growth of social networks is nearing saturation point in these age brackets. With the drop in the number of sign-ups, users are expected to be more discerning about the brands and the people they engage with on social sites.
Social networks need to keep users, especially those aged 35 and above, engaged by strengthening their relationships with them. Marketers, PPC companies and media firms can help in keeping people engaged with social networks by offering unique content and deals, and providing compelling user experiences.