Social media has long been thought to be dominated by teenagers and young people. This held true during the initial emergence of social media networks but over the last several years demographics have changed. There has been significant growth in the use of social media sites by older users.
There are fascinating trends happening.
Currently 45% of adults 65 and older use Facebook (up from 25% in 2013) and the majority of LinkedIn users are between the ages of 50 and 64.
Twitter has also seen growth among older users. The fastest growing demographic on Twitter in 2013 was the 55-64 year age bracket. This demographic grew 79% since 2012.
For Facebook and Google+ the fastest growing demographic was the 45-54 year age bracket, growing 46% for Facebook and 56% for Google+.
In these latest statistics, it is evident that social media is becoming recognized and accepted by older adults for its social and business purposes.
This significant rate of growth can be contributed to a number of social and technological factors.
Older people are adopting the use of smart phones, tablets and other technology to communicate on social media with family members, especially those they don’t see as often as they would like. They want to know what their children are doing and grandparents want to stay in touch with grandchildren. New technology makes it easier for older people to access and use social media. These groups are becoming more active users of all forms of technology.
Through their personal use, mature adults are recognizing the need of social media for business purposes. They have begun to utilize social media to build and strengthen existing relationships, find old friends and generate new business. With social media a staple in the way we communicate and interact today, indications are that this network will find a more balanced and age diverse user base.
Here is a chart indicating demographic usage on Facebook:
What does this mean for business?
Marketers and businesses need to look at their current social media campaigns and strategies and re-evaluate their messaging, content, and approaches. Advertising and marketing budgets need to allocate resources to different areas, including social media.
As more people become active online, more opportunities exist for marketing and exposing prospects to products and services. We need to think about how older users communicate, process data and respond to images and video.
The changing demographics of social media users is not a surprise to advertisers and larger companies, many of whom have dedicated more staff and resources to online marketing efforts. Estimates are that $11.87 billion will be spent on online advertising in 2014. This is up 15.9% from 2013.
Here is an infographic showing that data in greater detail.
As the older generation makes the shift in getting news from print newspapers and magazines to social media and online sources, marketing professionals need to be aware of this change to effectively serve the needs of both young and old generations who are looking to utilize social media to present their messages, products, and services.
Bill Corbett is the President of Corbett Public Relations in New York. Tweet him at @wjcorbett.