Social Media Use Surges Among 50+ Adults

twitter bird/cane

U.S. adults ages 50 and up who use the Internet are flocking to social networks, according to the results of a survey of 2,252 adults ages 18+ by Princeton Survey Research Associates on behalf of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The survey provides more evidence suggesting social media could become an effective advertising and marketing platform for reaching older Internet users (chronic offense-takers, please note that I did not write "old people").

The Pew findings are pretty dramatic: Among Internet users ages 50+ overall, social network use increased from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010. To boot, 10% of the 50+ cohort uses Twitter or a similar "status update" service, either to post updates or check other people's updates.

Looking at specific age cohorts, social network use among Internet users ages 50-64 surged from 25% to 47%, with 20% of this group saying they check into social networks on a daily basis -- up from 10% last year. Meanwhile the proportion of Internet users ages 65+ using social networks doubled from 13% to 26% over this period, with the number checking in daily jumping from 4% to 13%.

By contrast, social network use among Internet users ages 18-29 appears to be reaching saturation, growing from 76% in April 2009 to 86% in May 2010.

These findings seem to jibe with some other figures I wrote about recently, suggesting that the overall rate of growth in social networks is slowing, but that growth could continue if social networks penetrate certain under-utilizing parts of the population -- especially older adults. The pool of potential users is growing rapidly: a separate study from Pew found that the proportion of Americans ages 70-75 who were online increased from 26% in 2005 to 45% in 2009.

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3 comments about "Social Media Use Surges Among 50+ Adults".
  1. Jon-Mikel Bailey from Wood Street, Inc. , August 30, 2010 at 4:35 p.m.

    Makes sense, aren't they the same group that are notorious for forwarding emails, seems like a next logical step. I KID!

  2. Kevin Evans from none , September 1, 2010 at 5:07 a.m.

    Erik,
    Do we know which social networks they're using? Also, what constitutes 'social network use' according to this study? I know my mom and dad joined FB but never use it. My aunt uses FB to keep up with the family but she doesn't do any of the 'normal' Facebooky things like groups and games. In both of my family's cases, I would argue there is little to no value to advertisers.

  3. Katie Kail , September 1, 2010 at 2:16 p.m.

    You can add this to the many reasons why businesses should participate in social media marketing. Businesses looking to jump on the social media bandwagon should check out platform providers like eWinWin. They enable businesses to launch their OWN deals anywhere in the country and promote their deals online.