People are surprised to learn that the fastest growing group on Facebook is women over 55; however, that demographic is still a small group compared to the younger age groups. Only 16% of Facebook users (women and men combined) are over 55, so while women over 55 may be the fasted growing group, it fails to tell the whole story.
Yesterday I used Google Ad Services to look at the current statistics for Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn. It is important to understand that the Social Media arena is a constantly changing, but there are trends that have developed and are shaping our understanding of who is using the media. When considering this information please remember this does not tell us who is NOT using the Social Media tools. Anecdotally we can surmise that the older a person is, the more likely that they are limited or non-users of Social Media, but I have no facts to support that conclusion.
MySpace was a pioneer of the Social Media and it established the standard for most of the other web-based membership groups; however, it has undergone a series of scandals of misuse by some members and it has a reputation of being used primarily by young (underage users) which have driven people away. MySpace is the only one of the four researched Social Media platforms that is losing users. In the past year MySpace has dropped from slightly over 20 million visitors per day to about 13 million. Not the direction that they would like to go.
Women tend to use the Social Media more with LinkedIn having a tie of Male and Female users. On Facebook and Twitter women account for 60% of the users, and on MySpace they account for 66% of the users. The fact that women tend to use the Social Media more than men may tell us a lot about gender differences in behavior and attitudes towards the use of Social Media.
Age differences among the four Social Media platforms have specific patterns that indicate some of the most interesting demographics. In general terms, MySpace dominates the under 17 crowd with 34% of all users in that age group. It would seem that a rite of adulthood is to end your MySpace account, which may be why 18-24 year olds have distanced themselves from the service.
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all have an older following than MySpace with Twitter users peaking in the 35 to 44-year-old range and 46% of the Facebook users in the 35 to 54-year-old range. While the difference is not dramatic, Facebook users are slightly older than Twitter users, but both have over 70% of their users in the 25 to 64-year-old range.
LinkedIn is unique in the distribution of the age groups with an almost perfect ‘Bell Curve’. Considered to be the Social Media platform for business, it reflects a majority (56%) of 35 to 54 year olds as members, with another (33%) evenly spread on either side of the majority group. The next age groups on either side of that are also evenly divided at 4% each.
Social Media is still in a transformational phase. With each passing month the users are redefining the significance of the new communication forms. With new applications and new uses for the multiple platforms being invented on a daily basis, the people who traditionally have been resources of Public Relations and Marketing are racing to understand what is relevant and what is not. In addition to business concerns like Public Relations and Marketing, experts in fields like Social Psychology, Human Communication, and even Information Technology are scrambling to grasp what all this means.
What we know about Social Media is that it is not going away, nor is it a fad. We also know that Social Media is becoming a force in informing and influencing people with speed that has never been experienced before. It is macro-communication that occurs with micro-interactions. Much as the collective neurons in the human brain can influence our mood, the collective individuals in social networks are influencing the attitudes and awareness of a mass of people who often act or react based upon the knowledge gained through their Social Media group.
Those that engage in the tools of Social Media and learn the appropriate use of the tools will have a marketing advantage over those who shun it out of ignorance. Tools like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are even changing the way people manage and can be managed in an organization as they bypass all controls used by the Chain of Command leaving authority figures irrelevant unless they take part in the dialogue with those that have been empowered with a new voice.
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