It comes as no surprise that a survey recently released by Pew Research Center shows young adults to be the largest consumers of social media. According to Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project Survey, 86% of online adults ages 18 to 29 said that they use social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to communicate with friends, employers and family, share news, and manage personal information.
What is surprising is the survey’s findings concerning older Internet users and use of social media websites. The Internet and American Life Project Survey measured the consumption of social media among 2,252 adults ages 18 and older from April 2009 through May 2010. Results showed that the number of Internet users ages 50 to 64 using social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter increased 88% in this time frame. The number of Internet users 65 and older using the sites increased a staggering 100 percent in the same year.
Of those surveyed, nearly half of adults ages 50 to 64 said they were using some form of social media site and 20% said they used social media daily. One in four Internet users 65 and older also say they have now adopted social media, with 13% logging onto a social media site daily. Among adults ages 50 and older that use social networking sites, an astonishing 44% claimed to have used them just one day before they were contacted for the Pew survey.
Pew’s research indicates that older Internet users are not just embracing the use of social media; they are frequenting sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn on a daily basis. Though one could correctly say that social media has grown in popularity among all age groups, it is important to note that while older users nearly doubled their use of social media sites between April 2009 and May 2010, the number of adults ages 18 to 29 using the sites grew just 13%.
Even though email remains the principle way older Internet users communicate online, social media has gained prevalence among older age groups users as a legitimate means of sharing information and interacting with their social networks. Although young people are still by far the heaviest users of social media sites, Pew’s new data opens up lucrative new advertising opportunities for products and services aimed at the older audience.
Advertisers may not have previously seen the advantage of using sites such as Facebook or Twitter to connect with adults 50 and older. However, for companies targeting the older age groups, social media channels could now serve as a faster and more effective platform to reach that niche of consumers.
Written by Laura Green