Social media Kiwis becoming more tweety birds

Surveys on internet use always fascinate me. UMR Research released new research last week that said 76% of New Zealanders who are online use Facebook, up 7% since 2011.

Linkedin is the next most popular on 29%, although this is more than double what it was in 2011 when it was 12%. About 90% of people who are on Linkedin are also on Facebook.

Social media has become a way for not only keeping in touch with family and friends, although that is still the predominant use, but also for businesses, election campaigns and all sorts of other campaigns to gain customers, voters or supporters.

Many "injustices" are openly campaigned against on Facebook.

I will confess that I had trouble setting up a second account because it wanted to link my main account with the second one, even though I used a completely different email. It was frustrating for me but obviously others have mastered the art.

Anyway, the Online Omnibus survey also looked at Twitter - my current favourite form of communication - and found that 19% of New Zealanders who are online use Twitter, up 7% on 2011.

Several politicians are on Twitter and their interactions with critics and opponents make fun reading. I have colleagues on Twitter and also contacts.

Following news on Twitter, particularly breaking news from the organisations like the Otago Daily Times, Reuters and the BBC keep the juices flowing. The research showed that nearly all of the people who are on Twitter are also on Facebook. That cannot be a surprise. Once someone is online, they usually want more, not less.

Those who are on both Facebook and Twitter generally use Facebook more than they use Twitter, UMR said. More than 70% of those who are on both use Facebook at least once a day compared with 17% who use Twitter at least once a day. But 64% of those who are on both use Twitter less than once a week, compared with only 12% using Facebook less than once a week.

Facebook users who are on Twitter use Facebook more often than Facebook users who are not on Twitter. Here is where Mackline disagrees with the research which says for New Zealanders, Twitter is "clearly an addition to Facebook rather than a replacement".

Twitter caters to people already "quite active" in using social media.

The ease of putting up a photo instantly on Twitter puts Facebook to shame, in my opinion. News photos are up immediately. Last week, photos of missiles being launched from Gaza were loaded on to Twitter in real time by Twitter users.

Facebook might be the world's largest social media outlet, but of its one billion users, the company should check, and so should UMR, on how many people have an account which lies dormant for most of the time.

The research also showed the average New Zealand Facebook user has 146 "friends", up 22 from last year.

Although under 30-year-olds have more "friends" than any other age group (234 on average, up 21), the fastest growth has been among 30- to 44-year-olds.

Nearly a quarter of New Zealanders have a Facebook friend under the age of 13, supposedly the minimum age to have a Facebook profile. Alarm bells, anyone?

UMR Research director Gavin White said that, as was the case last year, if you were talking about social media you were talking about Facebook.

"With almost two-thirds of Twitter users using it less than once a week, we are clearly well behind the United States in terms of the use of Twitter as a mass-communication tool."

The research was conducted over two weeks in October with a national sample size of 1000 New Zealanders aged 18 and over. To get a better indication of who was using Twitter, researchers should possibly look at an older age bracket. Anecdotal evidence suggests Twitter is used widely among people aged 40 and over although there are users much younger and older. And by the way, using Twitter once a day is not helpful to users when feeds are constant.