In spite of social networks appearing to be new on the scene, they have evolved in dramatic ways. Thinking back to the early days of social networks, they were comprised predominantly of male engineers. Subsequently, a new social network came on the scene, first referred to as The Facebook which was comprised of college students. Fast forward to today and people from all walks of life are on social networks. In fact, they have become part of our fabric. Some may even go as far as expressing that certain social networks have become less cool given that grandmas and grandpas embrace them. Nevertheless, it is through social networking websites that we communicate with others by:
- Posting our thoughts and the thoughts of others
- Sharing articles
- Sharing media such as photos, videos, and audio
- And directly exchanging private messages
Among the more widely used social networks are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, and MySpace. To explore how adults view these social networks, MSI International surveyed over 600 adults by showing them a collection of pictures of varying ages of people balanced by gender in order to associate public perception with whom is perceived to be on the social networking site.
Initially respondents were asked for input on the images of various people in order to gauge perception of the images. In some instances, respondents had fallen prey to generic stereotypes of age and gender. Amongst all of the observations, the most pronounced finding is the strong perception of the teen male photo presented: people viewed him to be the least likely to read a book instead of watching the movie, the leader of the pack, trusted, and the least likely person you would seek out for advice or want to spend time with. Conversely, the female teen depicted was seen as a social butterfly on the cutting edge of social trends, standing out in a crowd and putting a lot of stock into social status. However, people viewed her as the least independent. The picture of the elderly lady was perceived as extremely trusting, family oriented, and the person respondents would most likely seek out for advice. Not surprisingly, her male counterpart was viewed as conservative, set in his ways, and the least likely to follow social trends or place importance in social status.
Soon we will share our report on how these images stacked against social networking sites. Will the sites that you perceive as young and hip or old and stodgy align or be different than what was found in the survey? We shall see…