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Social networking users aren't as young as you might think

Twitter_icons_256 In Twitter's infancy, the micro-sharing social network was largely perceived as a gathering place for hyper-connected, digitally-inclined twentysomethings. Sure, Twitter's early adopters were comprised of the younger "tech elite," but recent months have proven that the network is now more mainstream that you might think.

A couple of facts have recently jumped out at me:
  1. According to Nielsen Online, the largest age population on Twitter is 35-49, making up almost 42 percent of the site's audience. 
  2. A new survey from Pace University and the Participatory Media Network says that 99 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds have profiles on social networks, but only 22 percent are on Twitter.
  3. Switching gears to Facebook: The fastest growing demographic is females 55 and older. 
So what does this tell us? A couple of things: Youth culture has not yet gravitated to Twitter. There could be many reasons for this - one being that the 18-24 age demographic grew up within Facebook's walls, and simply don't have the need or want to migrate to another social network. Also, the Baby Boomers have finally arrived.

Marketers love to put their targets into age and gender buckets, but meanwhile I'm reminded of something Mike Sansone once said: Adoption of social networks is attitudinal, not generational.

We've moved past the age where social networking is a world occupied only by Millenials. Social networks are ubiquitous, utilitarian, mainstream - they are all around us and they are diverse. There will always be a small population that resists social networking, but they'll be less and less defined by age.

Before the end of the year, your parents will be on Facebook (if they aren't already). We're getting closer to the day that the term social media goes away forever, and all this stuff just blends into everyday life.


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Nathan - My 85 year old Great-Aunt was on Facebook before I was. Now, my parents, aunts and uncles, etc...are all on there sharing their photo's and filling in the gaps (as you once so eloquently defined social media)with each other. It is truly great.

Great Post Nate. I think having an older crowd on Twitter makes it much more useful. What started out as a "Here's what I'm having for lunch" toy, has gravitated toward an essential business tool for any company with an online presence. Crowdsourcing from people who have been there and done that makes the feedback much more useful.

Brett Trout

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