As we explore in our new GWI Social report (download a free summary here), if you ask people about the reasons they have for using social media then, unsurprisingly, it is seen first and foremost as a place to stay in touch with what friends are doing. Reach matters too, with well over a third citing the fact that lots of their friends are using social networks.

Beyond this, there are motivations which speak very clearly to the attempts made by many services to become content or news platforms. It’s just over a third of online adults who turn to social media in order to find funny or entertaining content. And it’s a similar but slightly higher proportion who think of networks as breaking news platforms where they go to stay up-to-date on current events.

But there’s also evidence to support the idea of a “context collapse” as reported in the media (where people are becoming less likely to share personal things on mainstream networks). It’s certainly not a coincidence that filling up spare time is the second most important reason for using this medium, and that all of the top five motivations are rather passive in nature (i.e. involve people looking or keeping up with things rather than contributing anything themselves). It’s still a not insignificant third who are sharing photos/videos and around 3 in 10 who are sharing their opinions, but these are clearly not the most pressing reasons for people to engage.

Clients can download the full version of our new GWI Social report here.

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Written by

Jason is Chief Research Officer at GlobalWebIndex. He oversees the global research and insight teams, directs the world-leading research study and specializes in analyzing consumer trends. He writes for titles like the Huffington Post and MediaPost and is a frequent contributor to stories on media outlets such as BBC News, CNN, the Guardian, Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg.

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