New Data: Hispanics Leading Geo-Social Usage

Pew Research Center says online Hispanics use location-based services more than any other demographic, as 10 percent of those surveyed had recently recorded a check-in. That number is noticeably higher than black (5 percent) and white (3 percent) online Americans checking in.

“Ten percent is significantly different; it’s significantly higher compared to five percent,” said Kathryn Zickuhr, Web coordinator at the Washington, DC-based think tank and lead author for the research. “You can say [Hispanics] are more likely to use location-based services than other Internet users…but this area is still in the pretty early and small stages for everyone.”

Zickuhr added, “Among cell phone owners, [Latinos and blacks] are much more likely to take advantage of a wider array of a phone’s data functions when compared to white cell phone users.”

Pew Research Center interviewed 3,001 U.S. adults by phone and found that 4 percent of those who log on to the Internet have used location-based services like Foursquare and Gowalla. That figure is actually down from the 5 percent number Pew found six months ago.

For the current study, the margin of error is between 2.5 and 2.9 percent. The interviews were conducted from Aug. 9 through Sept. 13 – right in the middle of the Facebook Places launch.

Other findings: Smartphone users appear to be more geo-social, as 7 percent of the respondents who go online with their cell phones use location-based services. Not surprisingly, the numbers skew young with 8 percent of online Americans aged 18 to 29 having checked in before. Men (6 percent) check in twice as much as women (3 percent), according to Pew’s research.

Overall, the numbers confirm what most industry watchers suspect in that location-based services are growing, but the adoption rate is modest so far. Zickuhr suggested that the next batch of surveys would likely happen in six months, after Facebook Places has a chance to gain a foothold.

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