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Google and Facebook Users Skew Young, Affluent, and Educated

Google and Facebook Users Skew Young, Affluent, and Educated

by Lymari Morales

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sixty percent of Americans tell Gallup they visit Google in a given week, compared with 43% who say they have a Facebook page. Both sites attract young, affluent, and educated Americans in large numbers, each counting more than half of those under 50, those with college degrees, and those making more than $90,000 a year among their users. Men are about as likely as women to have a Facebook page, while men are more likely than women to say they visit Google in a given week.

Self-Reported Usage of Google and Facebook, by Demographic Group, January 2011

The findings are from a USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Jan. 28-30, 2011, with 1,487 U.S. adults. The questions did not ask users how many times a week they visit the sites or how much time they spend on the sites, meaning this analysis gauges raw audience reach rather than engagement. According to, Google averaged approximately 145 million unique visitors in January, compared with Facebook's roughly 128 million, with the gap between them much smaller now compared with a year ago.

While the search engine Google and the social networking site Facebook did not begin as direct competitors, they are both powerhouses on the Web and key avenues companies use to reach their target audiences. They have been increasingly moving into each other's territory. Google announced on Thursday that it will more prominently display "social search" results akin to Facebook's "like" and "share" features, and it also has its own social networking feature, Buzz. At the same time, Facebook's inclusion of in-site chat and e-mail compete with Google's similar offerings.

Currently, U.S. adults in all key demographic groups are more likely to visit Google in a given week than to say they have a Facebook page. At 73%, Americans aged 18 to 29 are by far the most likely to say they have a Facebook page, but this is still fewer than the 83% in that age group who say they visit Google in a given week. Google attracts a significantly larger share of college graduates, postgraduates, and those making at least $90,000 per year. Both sites have yet to reach a majority of those with a high school education or less, or those who are at least 65 years old.

Majority of Users of Both Sites Concerned About Privacy

The same USA Today/Gallup poll asked Facebook and Google users about their level of concern when using these sites. The majority of users of both sites say they are very or somewhat concerned about invasion of privacy and Internet viruses, and about half are concerned about spam e-mail. Facebook users are slightly more likely than Google users to say they are concerned about all three.

Google and Facebook Users' Concerns, January 2011

Older and less affluent users of these sites are in some cases more concerned about these issues than other groups, but the patterns are not uniform and because of small sample sizes, the results by group are too small to report.

Bottom Line

Google and Facebook are reaching a large share of the key demographic groups advertisers seek: the young, the affluent, and the educated. With the two sites increasingly competing for advertising dollars and audience influence, these self-reported data suggest Google likely has a larger reach than Facebook at this time. A key question in the coming years is whether Facebook will expand its reach to the majority of U.S. adults, and even eclipse Google's reach among key demographic groups.

Survey Methods

Results for this USA Today/Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 28-30, 2011, on the Gallup Daily tracking survey, with a random sample of 1,487 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

For results based on the total sample of 559 Facebook users, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points.

For results based on the total sample of 904 Google users, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone-only). Each sample includes a minimum quota of 150 cell phone-only respondents and 850 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, education, region, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2010 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in continental U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

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