Social network site use plateaus at 61% of Internet users

By | September 19, 2013

Social network sites transformed the online experience for many people. However, while these sites have experienced years of explosive growth, growth in the proportion of users seems to have levelled off in the last two years, with the major growth in the use of social network sites occurring from 2005 to 2011. It is no longer reasonable to suggest those not on social network sites are simply unaware of them; without a disruptive innovation it is unlikely that we will see significant growth by the next survey. What we are seeing is a plateau of the diffusion curve as social network site use reached about two-thirds of the Internet population in the UK.

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The 1 percentage point rise in social media users from 60% to 61% from 2011 to 2013 was one of the most surprising results from the 2013 Survey.

Social network sites have become part of popular culture. Everyone knows what they are and what they can be used for, so people who are not using them are likely to be doing so by choice. This raises all sorts of questions. Why the sudden stability at about two-thirds of Internet users? Why are the attractions not appealing to those who are not using them? Have users been put off by journalistic coverage of privacy concerns on social media sites? Were social network sites something of a fad that has now peaked, or have we reached some natural limit of the number of people interested in social media?