Social media users are avid consumers of information online, even though they may not entirely trust it, according to a new poll.
The 13th quarterly Allstate-National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll finds that two-thirds of American adults surveyed were social media users last month, while more than two-thirds, and 60 percent of all Americans, believe the Internet and social media have made it easier for them to be well-informed consumers. Forty-seven percent of Americans and 55 percent of social media users say these technologies have made them more well-informed and active as citizens and in the political sphere.
However, Americans do remain skeptical about the trustworthiness of the information they find online. More than two-thirds of those surveyed believe that major corporations and political candidates actively use social media to advertise, collect information on customers or supporters, and increase their success. Traditional news sources are rated more highly for trustworthiness than are online information sources such as company or campaign websites, blogs, forums, and social media sites.
Social media use is no longer primarily the domain of younger and more tech-savvy first adopters. The report’s key findings are a testament to how pervasive social media use has become:
· Eighty-seven percent of Millennials use social media, along with 74 percent of those ages 30-49, 56 percent of those ages 50-64, and 34 percent of those ages 65 and older.
· Social media is used most by college graduates (76 percent), followed by those with some college education (69 percent) and those with a high school education (52 percent).
· More than half of American adults (51 percent) are on Facebook, 28 percent use Google+, 13 percent are on Twitter, 12 percent are on LinkedIn, and 6 percent are on Pinterest.
· Sixty percent of Americans and 69 percent of respondents use social media to research and compare to become better-informed consumers.
· Public TV, radio and newspapers are the most trusted information sources. Social media sites rank last, behind blogs and advertisements.
“That the explosion of available information and interconnectivity through social media is changing profoundly and very quickly how we communicate with each other and with business and government is beyond dispute,” said Joan Walker, Allstate executive vice president in a statement. “This oikk …strongly suggests that in social media there is much potential for good, creating more accessibility while demanding more authenticity to be successful.”
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.