Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Social networking and what it says about you

Found an interesting article about a study that relates your choice of social networking site to your socio-economic background:

The social networking site of choice is related to a student's race, ethnicity and parents' education, a new survey indicates.

The finding "suggests there's less intermingling of users from varying backgrounds on these sites than previously believed," said study leader Eszter Hargittai of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University in Illinois.

Hargittai surveyed more than 1,000 freshmen from the University of Illinois, Chicago.

Results show:

  • Caucasian students prefer Facebook.
  • Hispanic students prefer MySpace.
  • Asian and Asian-American students were more likely than others to "socialize" on Xanga and Friendster. They also used Facebook.
  • Asian and Asian-American students are least likely to use MySpace.

Parents' education level was also found to impact choice of social networking site. Students whose parents had college degrees more often reported Facebook and Xanga use compared with students with non-college-degree parents. (Facebook requires a valid e-mail ID that is associated with certain colleges, universities and other institutions.)

MySpace users were skewed toward students with parents having less than a high-school education than those with even some college experience (with or without achieving a college degree).

Nothing new to me, but someone who isn't as plugged in to social networking might find it interesting. I will say that what the study found is the common perception, especially with regard to education level. The perception is that facebook is for educated folks while MySpace is for annoying high schoolers and your average 19 year old high school degree union labor kid. The perception is changing, though, as facebook has opened up beyond its college only roots, first to high schoolers and now to pretty much anyone. When you factor in all the "applications" the facebook has made available in recent months, it's looking more and more like MySpace every day. It's become pretty apparent to me that they are trying to go after some of MySpace's market share. In doing so, however, they run the risk of pissing off their core group of customers, college students. A lot of people I know aren't real happy about the change in facebook. It's probably too soon now, but the more facebook becomes the next MySpace the more opportunity opens for someone to step in with a new site that is reminiscent of the old facebook.