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4 Aug, 2012

U.S. Consumers Are Overwhelmed by Social Media, Survey Reveals


LOS ANGELES, August 01, 2012  (BUSINESS WIRE)–MyLife.com® (“MyLife”) today announced the results of a commissioned survey of social media behavior, conducted online by Harris Interactive®. According to the 2012 Connecting and Communicating Online: State of Social Media study consumers’—that is, online adults in the U.S. who are 18 and older–fear of missing out (FOMO) may be heightened by their growing reliance on social networks. 62 percent of adults who are currently a member of more than one social networking site say they keep an eye on their social networks because they don’t want to miss something (e.g., news or an important event or status update).

The findings also indicate that nearly 40 percent would rather undertake unpleasant or potentially painful activities, from getting a root canal to reading “War and Peace” or spending the night in jail, before they would give up their social networking profiles.

“Consumers are bombarded with so much information online – from status updates and photos to tweets and check-ins – that our anxiety around missing out has shifted to our digital lives,” said Jeff Tinsley, CEO of MyLife. “The fact that many people would rather run a marathon or spend a night in jail than give up their Facebook or Twitter account is proof positive.”

The Facebook Fix

Not only are consumers afraid that they’re missing out if they go too long between log-ins, but the younger generation often checks in with their friends and followers online before they’ve even rubbed the sleep from their eyes. More than half of social media multi-taskers want a solution to help them manage their online overload.

  • Nearly 2/3 of online adults who are members of more than one social networking site (62%) say they keep an eye on their social networks because they don’t want to miss something (e.g., news, an important event or status update).
    • This goes up to almost 3 in 4 (72%) of those who are single or never married
    • 38% of social media users age 18-34 who have multiple profiles log onto their social networking profiles after they wake up before they check email
  • Almost 3 in 5 (57%) wish there was a solution to help them use, monitor and protect their social networking profiles and emails at once
    • Over a quarter of (27%) send messages from within their social network more than from their primary email account

I’ll Do Anything

Think waiting in the interminable line at the DMV is painful? Not more painful than being asked to give up their social networks according to many respondents. Plenty of social media users, including more than half of Gen Y, would prefer to undergo an arduous task, including tackling one of the longest novels ever, than be forced to delete their social media accounts.

  • Nearly 40% of people surveyed would rather do ANY of the following than give up their social networking profiles:
    • Wait in line at the DMV
    • Read War & Peace
    • Do their taxes
    • Give up an hour of sleep each night for a year
    • Run a marathon
    • Sit in traffic for 4 hours while listening to polka music
    • Get a root canal
    • Spend a night in jail
    • Clean the drains in the showers at the local gym
    • Give up their air conditioner/heater
  • Millennials are even less likely to part with their beloved social networks
    • More than half (54%) of 18-34-year-old social media users would undertake one of the undesirable activities before giving up their social media profiles

Different Strokes for Different Folks

While Facebook is widely known to be the most popular social network worldwide, the site actually doesn’t top social media users’ lists when it comes to being the primary social profile they turn to for consuming or sharing content, or even a mix of both. LinkedIn is tops for consumption (i.e., to observe without actively posting anything); 68% of online adults who are a member of LinkedIn say they use the site mainly to consume content.

  • YouTube (57%) and Twitter (53%) were next in line when it came to sites where users tend to primarily view content without sharing.
  • Pinterest (48%) narrowly edged out Facebook (46%) as the site where users are most likely to equally consume and share content.

“Surprisingly enough, while everyone knows different social networks serve different purposes, the way people are using sites to consume or share content doesn’t fall in line with what we might expect,” continued Tinsley. “Facebook was passed by Foursquare as the primary place people share content and newcomer Pinterest edged out the social media giant when it came to the site where users equally share in both activities.”

MyLife also today announced the launch of its Social Dashboard (see companion release, MyLife Launches Social Dashboard for Consumers to Easily Manage Their Digital Lives), a web and mobile platform that allows consumers to find connections and easily manage all of their communication, across multiple social networks and emails accounts, in one place.

To sign up for the MyLife social media dashboard for free, go to www.mylife.com. The MyLife mobile app is available on the iPhone and on Android.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of MyLife from July 13-17, 2012 among 2,037 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact Jennifer Conway, jennifer@dottedlinecomm.com, 978-463-0289.