Social Media Preferences Vary by Race and Ethnicity

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Article by Jens Manuel Krogstad

February 3, 2015

Latinos, blacks and whites use social media networks about equally, but there are some differences in their preferences for specific social media sites. For example, Instagram is more popular among Latinos while Pinterest is more popular among whites, according to a late 2014 Pew Research Center survey.

Today, about eight-in-ten Latino, black and white adults who are online use at least one of five social media sites – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Twitter. Among these, Facebook stands out as the most widely used platform, regardless of race or ethnicity: About seven-in-ten adult internet users (71%) say they use the site.

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But there are differences by race and ethnicity in the use of other social media sites, in particular Instagram. The photo-sharing site is more popular among Hispanic and black internet users than among white internet users. About one-third (34%) of online Hispanics use Instagram, as do 38% of blacks. By comparison, only 21% of whites use the network.

Instagram’s popularity among younger adults is notable. For example, roughly half (53%) of online adults ages 18 to 29 use the service, compared with 25% of those ages 30 to 49, 11% of those ages 50 to 64 and 6% of those 65 and older. This is worth noting when looking at social media use by race and ethnicity since Latinos are significantly younger than other groups. More than a decade separates the median age of Latinos (27) and whites (42), while the median age for blacks is 33.

By contrast, the social media site Pinterest is more popular among white internet users than among other groups. About one-third (32%) of whites use Pinterest, compared with 21% of Hispanics and just 12% of blacks. LinkedIn differs in that about equal shares of whites (29%) and blacks (28%) use the site, compared with 18% of Hispanics. Meanwhile, Twitter has a more equal distribution. About one-in-four Hispanics and blacks use the site, along with 21% of whites.

Jens Manuel Krogstad is a writer/editor focusing on Hispanics, immigration and demographics at Pew Research Center.

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