A recent national survey found that more online gay, lesbian and bisexual (GLB) individuals use social networks Friendster and MySpace per week compared to online heterosexuals. Other well-known websites such as YouTube, Craigslist and personal web logs also were found to be more popular among GLB individuals.

These are some of the highlights of a nationwide online survey of 2,541 U.S. adults (ages 18 and over) conducted between November 13 and 20, 2006, by Harris Interactive, a global market research and consulting firm, in conjunction with Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc., a strategic public relations and marketing communications firm with special expertise in the GLBT market. The results reported in this release refer to U.S. adults who are online.

27 percent of GLB individuals reported they visit the popular free video sharing website, youtube.com, at least one hour or less per week, compared with 22 percent of all heterosexuals. GLB individuals were also slightly more likely to visit Craigslist.com (20%), a centralized network of online urban communities, featuring free classified advertisements and forums, one hour or less per week (while 13% of heterosexuals say they visit Craigslist).

Even more significant is that gays and lesbians are online much more than their heterosexual counterparts. Excluding email, nearly twice as many gays and lesbians (32%) say they are online for between 24 and 168 hours per week, compared to 18 percent of heterosexuals.

Bob Witeck, CEO of Witeck-Combs Communications, said, "We have consistently benchmarked strong online usage by the gay community. Gays and lesbians have shown their need to build and maintain an early and major presence on the web that translates directly into significant market opportunities. Social networks also appear to be second nature for the gay and lesbian consumer." 

Regarding web logs or blog use, the survey found nearly one in four GLB individuals (24%) reported to visit personal blogs, which are websites that serve as an individuals personal online journal, compared to 12 percent of heterosexuals. In fact, over one in three GLB adults (36%) visit their favorite blogs everyday, while only 19 percent of heterosexuals say they visit their favorite blogs daily. GLB respondents also reported to have a more positive reaction towards advertising found on blogs, by two to one when compared to heterosexuals (22% vs. 9%).

Methodology

Harris Interactive conducted the study online within the United States between November 13 and 20, 2006, among 2,541 adults (ages 18 and over), of whom 2,205 indicated they are heterosexual and 267 self-identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual (this includes an over-sample of gays and lesbians). Figures for age, sex, race, education, region, income and amount of time spent online were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions with the online adult population. In addition, the results for the gay, lesbian and bisexual sample were weighted separately based on profiles of the gay lesbian and bisexual online populations that Harris Interactive has compiled through many different online surveys.

All surveys are subject to several sources of error. These include: sampling error (because only a sample of a population is interviewed); measurement error due to question wording and/or question order, deliberately or unintentionally inaccurate responses, nonresponse (including refusals), interviewer effects (when live interviewers are used) and weighting.

With one exception (sampling error) the magnitude of the errors that result cannot be estimated. There is, therefore, no way to calculate a finite margin of error for any survey and the use of these words should be avoided.

With pure probability samples, with 100 percent response rates, it is possible to calculate the probability that the sampling error (but not other sources of error) is not greater than some number. With a pure probability sample of 2,541 one could say with a ninety-five percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/-2 percentage points. Sampling error for the sub-sample of heterosexuals would be +/-2 percentage points, and for the sub-sample of gays and lesbians +/-7 percentage points. However that does not take other sources of error into account. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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