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Social media butterfly?

One in three anglophone Canadians won't let a single day go by without checking into their social media feeds, suggests a new report by the Media Technology Monitor.

The report is based on telephone surveys with 4,001 anglophone Canadians in the fall and found almost seven in 10 Internet users declared they were regular social media users, logging on at least once a month. That figure was up by about six per cent compared to 2011.

Those growing numbers didn't surprise Aime Morrison, an associate professor at the University of Waterloo, who researches digital culture.

"It's becoming a mainstream part of how we get the business of life accomplished and you're at a disadvantage increasingly if you don't do it," says Morrison.

"I think social media is hitting a tipping point in a way that cellphones did in the later part of the 1990s, where we've moved from the stage where it was something that the early adopters did and then the hipsters did and then the kids did."

About 63 per cent of social media users surveyed said they read Facebook posts, tweets and/or LinkedIn updates every single day.

Facebook remains far and away the most popular social network. About 63 per cent of surveyed Internet users and 93 per cent of social media users said they're on Facebook.

While Twitter gets a lot of media hype and is growing rapidly it's not all that commonly used in Canada, according to MTM's numbers.

Less than one in five Internet users surveyed said they were on Twitter in the last month, although those numbers had grown by 80 per cent in a year, up from just 10 per cent in 2011.

"Probably in the press it looks like more people are on Twitter than actually are on Twitter," said Morrison, who noted the stats were in line with usage of the social network among her graduate students.

"They didn't think it was relevant to them or some had concerns about privacy or the exposure they might face as young workers.... They were worried it might be held against them if they did it wrong."

Morrison pointed out that it can be difficult for new users "to know the right way to use Twitter and therefore it can be more alienating than something like Facebook."

The business-oriented social network LinkedIn had similar usage numbers, although it grew slower since 2011. About 12 per cent of Internet users said they used it at least once a month in 2011 and the figure was up to 18 per cent in 2012.

"It's a lot of work to do LinkedIn well, I imagine there's a lot of begun and abandoned (accounts)," Morrison said.Morrison said social media membership will likely continue to grow as users who previously held out feel obligated to finally join in.

"We're getting into now that cultural tipping point where it's no longer really that choice of, 'I don't need it, I'm not going to use it,' but rather, 'I'm being left out of things now because so many people use it and they assume everyone has it.'"

On the other hand, there will always be resisters who refuse to sign on to what they deem to be a fad.
 





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