Email is Part of the Internet's Backbone

Chris CrumBusiness

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Earlier, we looked at some research from Pew Research Center's American Life Project about social network usage. The main finding was that half of all U.S. adults use social networks, with 65% of adult Internet users.

We exchanged some dialog about the report, including some comparison in email usage, with a couple of their researchers.

"Social networking site use has been one of the fastest-growing services we’ve seen in ten years of surveys," Kathryn Zickuhr, Research Specialist with Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, tells WebProNews. "On a typical day, email and search are the only two activities we ask about that are used more frequently than social networking services.

"Older internet users are much less likely than younger adults to use social networking services, with only 33% of internet users age 65 and older use these sites," she says. "However, that 33% represents a 150% rate of growth since April 2009, when 13% of those 65 and older used these sites."

Pew Research on Social Networks

"Social networking site 'holdouts' are largely older users, and while we do have some forthcoming data that speaks to why some people are motivated to use SNS and others are not, I unfortunately can’t discuss those new findings just yet," Senior Research Specialist Mary Madden tells us. "However, our previous research has shown that Facebook users are more trusting than non-users and that those who don’t use SNS are also less trusting of the sites as a whole."

"For instance, when asked how much of the time they thought they could trust social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn, 33% of non-users said they 'never' could, compared with 23% of those who use the sites," she adds. "And of course since these are people who have never used the sites, there was also a significant portion of non-users (21%) who said they didn’t know whether or not the sites could be trusted."

"Looking closer at specific online activities, we’ve found that email, along with search, is still part of the backbone of the internet—92% of online adults send and receive email, compared with the 65% of online adults who use social networking sites," Zickuhr says. "However, when it comes to daily activities, the two are much closer in popularity: On a typical day, 61% of internet users access email and 43% use social networking sites."

As a matter of fact, we looked at Pew's research earlier this month, which appears to indicate that email is still King of the Internet.

Pew Internet survey

Interestingly, Pew's research found that the people using email most are the youngest demographic surveyed (18-29).

Pew Internet Email data

Social media is clearly growing, though that growth has slowed tremendously over the last couple years (see graph above). It’s still below buying products online, getting news online, and of course search and email.

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.