Social Media Users Are Older and More Business-Like Than You Think

I had an interesting conversation with a client recently who was expressing doubt about whether their audience, less technical business professionals over 40, was participating in any meaningful way in social media. As a result of this conversation, I spent some time digging into the data, and I wanted to share what I learned.

Your Competitors Are Investing in Social Media

Companies are continuing to invest more money in social media, which will continue to fuel the growth of social media technologies. At least some of your competitors have plans to invest more resources and increase spending on social media. Here are a few examples from eMarketer and Forrester.emarketing1 emarketing3



Twitter Users Are Trending Older

According to Nielsen, Twitter is growing rapidly and people using Twitter tend to trend older than you might expect with 35 – 49 year-olds making up almost 42% of the traffic to

twitter growthtwitter age demo

Nielsen has also found that the majority of Twitter users access it from work:

“Twitterers (a.k.a. Tweeters) are not primarily teens or college students as you might expect. In fact, in February the largest age group on Twitter was 35-49; with nearly 3 million unique visitors, comprising almost 42 percent of the site’s audience. We found that the majority of people visit while at work, with 62 percent of the combo unique audience accessing the site from work only versus 35 percent that accessed it from home only.”

comScore has also noticed a similar trend in Twitter users:

“18-24 year olds, the traditional social media early adopters, are actually 12 percent less likely than average to visit Twitter (Index of 88). It is the 25-54 year old crowd that is actually driving this trend. More specifically, 45-54 year olds are 36 percent more likely than average to visit Twitter, making them the highest indexing age group, followed by 25-34 year olds, who are 30 percent more likely.”


Facebook Users Are Trending Older

According to Nielsen:

While social networks started out among the younger audience, they’ve become more mainstream with the passage of time. Not surprisingly the audience has become broader and older. This shift has primarily been driven by Facebook whose greatest growth has come from people aged 35-49 years of age (+24.1 million). From December 2007 through December 2008, Facebook added almost twice as many 50-64 year old visitors (+13.6 million) than it has added under 18 year old visitors (+7.3 million).


According to Inside Facebook:

Looking at Facebook US audience growth over the last 180 days, it’s clear that Facebook is seeing massive increases in adoption amongst users 35-65. The fastest growing demographic on Facebook is still women over 55 – there are now nearly 1.5 million of them active on Facebook each month.

The biggest growth in terms of absolute new users over the last six month came amongst users 35-44. Over 4 million more US women 35-44 and nearly 3 million more US men 35-44 used Facebook in March 2009 compared to September 2008.

Online Community Participants Also Increasing in Age

online community ages

There you have it. A big data dump of various research into social media and online community age demographics. If you know of other research, please feel free to share them in the comments.

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts:

11 thoughts on “Social Media Users Are Older and More Business-Like Than You Think”

  1. What a Great Data post! Thanks for sharing this tool!It is truly “amazing” how Social Media has changed the way we do business and connect!

    Be Well,

  2. great insights – thanks for making it available – thinking that the general population shape has a lot to do with this trend – huge numbers of baby boomers 48-63 – i heard a month ago that every 7 sec someone turned 50 in NAmerica

  3. Very nice. I was happy to see this pop up in my RSS reader when i logged on today.

    What I find odd is that Twitters demographic is higher in age on average. You’d think Twitter would be more ‘kid’ friendly because of the abstract nature of it (at least that’s how it feels when you 1st start using – abstract and confusing).

    Glad to see us old folks are catching up 🙂

  4. Dawn,
    As a baby boomer and an empty-nester, I can confirm that social media has a growing demand. My wife Sarah and I use these new tools to stay connected with our grown children and our grand children. They live all across the country and we want to remain close.
    There a millions of people making this same family transition and they crave the connection that social media provides.
    This trend will explode as Y-generation begins to have children of their own and feel the tug of connection back to their family. Our Y’s fill our social in-boxes with the pictures of their kids and adventures – We love it!
    Combining the two biggest demographics (Boomers & Y’s) should create an ever expanding demand for ways to stay connected and share life experiences online.

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