Pew Research: A Quarter of Adults Use Location Based Social Media

Do your Facebook friends know where you are? If you’re like 1 in 4 Americans, they probably do. According to a new report released by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, location based social media is being used by 28% of American adults.

Do your Facebook friends know where you are? If you’re like 1 in 4 Americans, they probably do. According to a new report released by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, location based social media is being used by 28% of American adults.

The Pew Internet Research and American Life Project is one of the seven projects which makes up the Pew Research Center. According to the Pew website, “The Project produces reports exploring the impact of the internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life.” From Internet use to social media, Pew has covered many topics in their research and the latest to their archives is an investigation of mobile and social location based services.

The survey results are based on a national American telephone survey of 2,277 adults, conducted from April 26th, 2011 until May 22, 2011. The interviews were conducted by both cell phone and landline numbers; 1,522 interviews were completed on landlines while 755 were completed via cell phone. Interviews were done in two languages: English and Spanish. According to Pew, the margin of error is -/- 2 percentage points.

According to the study, 28% of U.S adults are using location based social media.  Further, 28% of cell phone users use their mobile devices to get location based recommendations, or to get directions.

However, only 5 percent of cell phone users use their phones to check into location based apps such as Foursquare, and, perhaps it goes without saying, smartphone owners are more likely to use phones to check into such services . According to the survey, 12% of smartphone users have used a geosocial service, and “55% of smartphone owners have used a location-based information service. Almost six in ten smartphone owners (58%) use at least one of these services. These are all well above the average for cell owners as a whole”. The survey also notes that younger smartphone users (ages 18-49) are more likely than those over 50 to use geogsocial or location based services.

Finally, 9% of Internet users set up social media – such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn  – so that their location is included in their posts.

Interestingly, according to the survey “Non-whites” are most likely to use automatic location-tagging and geosocial services. The survey notes: “Hispanics are the most active in these two activities, with a quarter (25%) of Latino smartphone owners using geosocial services and almost a third (31%) of Latino social media users enabling automatic location-tagging. However, though only 7% of white smartphone owners use geosocial services, 59% get location-based information on their phones, compared with 53% of blacks and only 44% of Hispanics.”

According to Kathryn Zickuhr, a Pew Internet Research Specialist and co-author of the report, Americans are not currently all that eager to share explicitly their location on social media sites, but they are taking advantage of their phones’ geolocation capabilities in other ways.” She continues: “Smartphone owners are using their phones to get fast access to location-relevant information on-the-go.”

While 25% of the population isn’t enough to make a definitive statement (America is going social-mobile!), it is enough to view the use of mobile social media technology as signifcant. Bring on the location-based apps!