The Social Soap Box: Social Media Gets Older

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Social media has only been around a decade, but the folks who frequent sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are getting older. 

A recent survey conducted by Pew Internet revealed that the average age of a user of social networking sites is 38, a big increase from the average age of 33 just three years ago. To boot, over half of all adult Internet users are now over the age of 35. The Pew research also revealed that Facebook users in particular are 43 percent more likely than other Internet users and more than three times as likely as non-Internet users to feel most people can be trusted.

The data is very consistent with the latest U.S. Census Bureau brief that shows seniors are growing faster than younger populations, contributing to the rise in the median age to 37 in 2010 in most U.S. states.More data can be found here. So essentially, we are looking at an older age group of social network users who are likely to have more disposable income and are also likely to make purchases online.  This would appear to be a marketer's dream – to be able to influence purchase decisions and positively impact a company's brand image online.  

I asked Peter Kim, chief strategy officer at Dachis Group, a research and consultancy firm focused on social business, to share his thoughts:

"Many sites are seeing current growth from this older demographic. Early on, companies could dismiss the need for social strategy by claiming that social networks were better suited for youth. Now, there should be no doubt left that social channels are critical for both business to consumer and employee to employee communications.

As companies shift to social business, they will need to come to terms with the realities of engagement. Trust is paramount and built through direct engagement; yet most companies are not staffed to scale up quickly in social channels. Thus the changes in corporate communications and marketing will be slow to manifest publicly. But they'll become the basis of long-term competitive advantage for those who get it right.

What this means: companies must consider their readiness for social business. Is the organization siloed or networked? Is the culture closed or collaborative? Are the right tools being used to facilitate communications and connections?

Look to companies like Ford and Target that are shifting on the leading edge of these changes."

Net-net: The population is aging, so it makes sense that users of social networks are getting older, too. Here's a fairly recent infographic that gives a good breakdown of how the various age groups interact online.

Via Community 102

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About Autumn Truong @#!/autumntt

Autumn Truong is Senior Social Media Strategist at Cisco.