Why do people go online?

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Public relations and communiciations consultancy group Ruder Finn offers some revealing and valuable figures under the heading Intent is the New Demographic. This is displayed using an interactive pie-chart. By default, this opens as a simplified summary with the option to click on different demographic groups: Men, Women, Youth, Seniors, or All. Click on the ‘full index’ link on that page, and you get a more complex piechart with subdivisions, but which (as far as I understand) represents the ‘All’ percentages broken into subdivision categories. There is no option to then select these by age or gender, and as this is a Flash page, there is no back button to the simpler chart – you need to refresh the page to get back to this – (and since it has no toolbar, that means use CTRL + R, or MAC equivalent).

Research is based on usage in USA (though it has been criticized for being based on a very small sample); doubtless percentages will be broadly similar throughout the West, it would be interesting to know how statistics might vary in, say, Africa, Mid East, China or Japan, though here are some fascinating statistics from Communicate Jesus blog about Australian Facebook usage, and some remarkable big picture web stats reported by Justin Wise.

analyzes these stats to demonstrate that:

– More than twice as many people go online to socialize (81%) than to do business (39%) or shop (31%).

– 72% of people go online just to become part of a community.

– Seniors are going online today for the same reasons younger people are; to have fun (82%) and to socialize (80%).

– More people go online to connect via a social networking site (41%) than to post comments or opinions (34%).

– More people go online to be entertained (82%) than entertain others (48%).

– People seek education and entertainment: most people go online both to learn (88%) and have fun (83%).

– Almost half of people (47%) go online to learn to improve themselves and nearly one-third (31%) to find self-help experts or books.

– The desire to learn drives people to the Internet; top areas are new subjects (68%), the world (65%), a disease or condition (61%), eating healthier (55%) and managing finances (37%).

– Three times as many people go online to compare prices (66%) rather than people via dating sites (21%).

– One-third of people (34%) go online to purchase an item; tops are household items (49%), electronics (45%); music (35%), movies (29%), and school/work supplies (29%).

– More men (42%) than women (36%) go online to do business.

– 55% of women go online to find venues for personal expression compared to only 43% of men.

– 44% of people go online to create or update blogs and 42% of people go online to read other people’s blogs.

– Nearly half (48%) go online to be invisible on instant messaging, 29% to create an avatar and 28% to be somewhat different.

– Women (48%) are much more likely than men (39%) to go online to advocate for an issue or position.

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