Social Media Bridges Generation Gap

Has the term "social Web" become redundant? Nearly so, it seems, as 91% of online adults -- or 129 million consumers -- now access social media at least once a month.

So says a new study from Experian Simmons, which, even more remarkably, finds that 98% of online 18-to 24 year-olds use social media monthly.

Narrowing the generational divide, Experian Simmons finds that the greatest growth sector for social is among older Americans.

In fact, the share of those in the 65-plus category who use social media grew a relative 50% in the past two years alone. As such, nearly 3-in-4 online seniors now use social media in a typical month, as do 82% of those ages 55 to 64.

Experian Simmons also reports that while 46% of all online adults today say they use social media to communicate with their friends -- up from 32% in 2009 -- 27% of those with a brother or sister say they communicate with their sibling via social media -- up from 15% in 2009.

Parents and children are also connecting with one another at an increasingly high rate. In 2009, only 6% of parents said they communicated with their children via social sites, but today fully 18% of parents communicate with their kids through social media.

Likewise, 14% of adult children also say they communicate with their parents over social media today, up from just 5% in 2009.

Also of note, Experian Simmons reports that nearly one-third of Hispanic consumers who use social media today -- 30% -- say they follow their favorite brands and companies on social sharing sites. By comparison, 18% of non-Hispanic users of social media say they follow brands.

Moreover, 19% of Hispanic adult users of social sharing sites say they are more likely to buy products advertised on social sharing sites compared with 8% of non-Hispanics who say the same.

Experian Simmons also noted a higher-than-average use of Twitter among Hispanic consumers -- 18% of visitors are Hispanic versus 14% of the adult population overall.

Heavy Facebook users -- defined as those online adults who visit more than 15 times per month -- were found in the heaviest concentrations in America's college towns.

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