What Social Networkers Do With Their Time

A MetaFacts TUPdate by Dan Ness, Principal Analyst

Social networking is about fun and keeping connected – hardly referred to as a time-saver. Our latest research confirms that adults busiest with their PCs use social networking the most. Three out of four (77%) of adults who spend 80 or more per week with their PC use a social network, versus only 45% of those who use their PCs less than five hours per week.

It’s not as if Cityville is capturing all the hours among those busiest. Game-playing is ranked 7th across all usage levels save one. There is no single type of activity that the least-busy do that the most-busy don’t. It’s more that the least-busy simply scratch the surface of social networking activities while the busy, well, get busy. The rank order of social networking activities is not significantly different between the least-busy and busiest.

Simply put, the busiest computer users use the widest range of social networking activities.

So, what’s the attraction for these busiest PC users that hasn’t lured the less-busy?

Four activities stand out to separate the busiest from the least-busy. One is rather passive, one bodes well for social media marketing, and the other two show a heightened level of user involvement and concern.

Social Networking Activities and Online Hours

Watching a video, such as following a link to YouTube or Video, is done by the busiest at nearly triple the rate of the least-busy. Similarly, 31% of social networkers who use their PCs for 80 or more hours per month say they have recently clicked a social network ad, triple the 10% rate among those using their PCs for less than five hours a week.

Removing content, such as deleting photos or posts, and adjusting privacy settings, is done by the most-active PC users at triple the rate of the least-busy. These two activities are related, as social networkers seek to control their public footprint.

Social networking relies on a delicate alchemy of trust, encouraging user-generated content and attracting participation by preserving privacy, and helping networkers feel they are discovering things rather than being sold to.

In our Technology User Profile survey, we also asked those who don’t use a social network why they disconnected. Of those who use their primary PCs 80 or more hours per week, 26% said they stopped using a social network because they were wasting their time. From the least-busy to the busiest, agreement was the same, ranging between 20% and 28% of online adults.

Looking ahead, the near-term future for social networks will still include turmoil. There are a substantial number of online adults who aren’t finding a compelling reason to spend as much of their time networking online. Furthermore, trust issues continue, with 19% to 28% of the unnetworked having stopped citing privacy concerns. Still, it’s a bullish sign that the top activities for the busiest users are to expand their network and add content. To the extent the social network can continue to bring value and interest to the busiest users, this may encourage more use among current users, and possibly open the door for the return of former social networkers.


The information in this MetaFacts TUPdate is based on the Technology User Profile service.

For this TUPdate, MetaFacts reviewed its surveys of online adults and how they use their primary PC. This is the PC they use the most often, whether it is owned by them, their employer, a friend, or in a public place.

To see other research coverage of Internet products and activities – from smartphones to feature phones, desktops to notebooks, social networking, demographics, and attitudes – see the many other questions TUP answers on www.technologyuser.com. Tech market research professionals can license direct access to TUP.

Direct marketers may be interested in certain specific Consumer Tech Index issues: Top Home PC Socializers, Top Home PC Communicators, and Top Home PC Funlovers. These identify what makes these active consumers different from the general market, in an actionable and useful way.

Strategic planners and marketers can contact MetaFacts to access the Technology User Profile Overview Report, which covers the broader range of key trends. View findings in 25 pages of executive summary analysis, 200+ pages of charts and graphs, all supported by 95+ pages of detailed tables. The complete, 300+ page report is delivered to you electronically.

About TUPdates

MetaFacts releases ongoing syndicated original research on the market shifts, trends and consumer profiles for Smartphones, Netbooks, Mobile PCs, Workplace PCs, Home PCs, Web Creators, Broadband, and many other technology products and services. These TUPdates are short analytical articles in a series of specific topics utilizing the Technology User Profile Annual Edition study, which reveals the changing patterns of technology adoption around the world. Interested technology professionals can sign up at https://metafacts.com/contact-metafacts/ for complimentary TUPdates – periodic snapshots of technology markets.

About MetaFacts

MetaFacts helps technology marketers find and measure their best and future customers. MetaFacts’ Technology User Profile (TUP) survey is the longest-running, large-scale comprehensive study of its kind, conducted continuously since 1983, the year before Apple released the Apple Macintosh. The detailed results are a primary market sizing and segmentation resource for leading companies providing consumer-oriented technology products and services, such as PCs, printers, Smartphones, consumer electronics, mobile computing, and related services and products. TUP analyzes key trends and the data-rich source can be dived into more deeply for custom analysis. For more information about the syndicated research service, analysis tools, publications and datasets, contact MetaFacts at 1-760-635-4300.