Pay Attention Mark Zuckerberg!
In late 2011, I conducted a graduate study to examine the habits and trends of U.S. Soldiers who use Social Media Sites on the internet. The original intent was to understand the extent to which Soldiers in the United States Army utilized web-based Social Media, in order to identify possible security risks. The results however, produced an unanticipated contrast between the usage of Social Media by U.S. Soldiers and the average U.S. citizen; a result to which Mark Zuckerberg should probably take notice – and perhaps even express some gratitude to his military clientele.
Social Network Use By Soldiers in 2011
The study was conducted at Fort Huachuca, Arizona from November 21, 2011 to November 23, 2011. Questionnaires were distributed to a diverse population of over 500 Soldiers who were at the base to conduct training. The results found:
- 86% of the Soldier population reported that they used Social Networking Sites (SNS).
- 84% of male Soldiers reported that they used SNS.
- 98% of female Soldiers reported that they used SNS.
In comparison, a study conducted by Pew Research in 2011 found:
- Just 65% of U.S. adults reported using SNS.
- 60% of U.S. males reported using SNS.
- 69% of U.S. females reported using SNS.
A comparison of these results indicates that Soldiers:
- Used SNS at a rate of 32% higher than the general U.S. population.
- Male Soldiers used SNS at a 40% higher rate than their civilian peers.
- Female Soldiers used SNS at a 42% higher rate than their civilian peers.
Facebook is King
The 2011 Soldier study also found that 97% of Soldiers, who reported using SNS, were active on Facebook. Unfortunately, the percent of average Facebook users was not available in the 2011 Pew report. However, the 2013 report by Pew indicates that only 67% of Americans on social media in 2012, used Facebook. This means that Soldiers were using Facebook at a rate of 45% higher than the average American adult in the 2011-2012 time frame.
Social Network Use By Soldiers Today
Since a follow-up to the study on Soldiers hasn’t been conducted since 2011, it’s difficult to make accurate comparisons on the use of SNS by Soldiers and the average American adult today. However, the more recent 2013 Pew report indicates that 73% of American adults used SNS in 2013; with 71% of those respondents on Facebook. This is an impressive increase in the use of SNS and Facebook by the American population over the last couple of years. However, compared to the fact that Soldiers were using SNS and Facebook, in 2011, at the respective rates of 86% and 97% (or 18% and 37% higher than their civilian peers are today) – the increase in the use of SNS and Facebook by the American population, pales in comparison!