American LinkedIn (786) and Twitter (838) members have significantly larger networks than even Facebook (648) users, according to the latest Pew Internet study from Keith Hampton, Lauren Sessions Goulet, Lee Rainie, Kristen Purcell.
One possible explanation for the very large number of connections held by Twitter users — the demographics tend toward much more female and more educated than other Social Networking Sites. Education is by far the biggest influence on network size; “those with a 4-year university degree average 12% more close ties than those with only a high school diploma.” While female tend to have slightly smaller networks, their connections are closer especially in the number of core confidants, those with whom you would share sensitive information and call on for close support.
Speaking of core confidants, one interesting chart from the study (included below) shows that overall 40% of Americans are connected on some SNS with ALL of their core confidants.
In 2008, it was primarily SNS users under the age of 23 who friended their closest social ties. In 2010, with the exception of those who are 50-65, 40% or more of social networking site users in all other age groups – including those over the age of 65 –have friended all of their core discussion confidants.
Interestingly, the age demographic for lowest SNS core confidant connects is exactly the age, 50 – 65, from which I hear the strongest objection to #noemail.
There is something particular and peculiar about that age group — not only because I’m in there. This seems to me to be a group that has settled on a key technology, email, and is pretty happy with what it does. While I have a personal dissatisfaction with email, I can see my age cohort’s point. Many of us went through some rapid changes in communications technologies and successfully integrated email into our professional and social lives. Social networking software has come toward the end of our careers. It started with our children and younger colleagues and worked it’s way up to our awareness. We generally have our connections pretty well set. We aren’t just out of high school nor are we reconnecting (yet) at the same pace of our mostly retired and reflective elders.