Social networking isn’t just for the youngsters anymore. It’s for the young at heart. According to a recent Pew Internet & American Life Project report, the share of adult Internet users on social networks has more than quadrupled in the past four years. From 8% to 35%, that’s a huge leap in terms of the adoption rate for using online social networks. And this number also means that adults represent a larger amount of users than the 65% of online teens who also use social networks, making the influence of adults on social networks significant and on the rise.
What’s this really mean, and who should pay attention? Developers of social networks, for one. We’ve seen a number of social networks designed for more mature adults emerge in the past few years, offering a direct reflection of the rise in adults flocking to online social networks. Few of these, however, have gained major traction. And those existing networks like Facebook, which already have a great deal of teens using their sites, have managed to attract adults in the 18-24 range and beyond.
Marketers are also ones that should be paying attention to the changing demographics of online social networks, especially as more advertisers find new ways in which to create adds and generate leads via these sites. I think engagement is important for adults as well as teens when it comes to brand advertisements on social networks, though some types of applications and ads just won’t be as effective.
Harking back to my comment about few dedicated adult networks gaining traction in the past year, it’s important to note that the majority of social network activity is still very reliant on the young adult and teen demographic.
So when it’s all said and done, the higher percentage of teens using social networks still have the most influence when it comes to decisions made around social networking and its greater, cultural potential. According to Pew, professional networking is important to adults, in addition to personal use of social networking. This indicates that adults are entering the online social networking realm with different objectives in mind than their teenage counterparts.
Pew goes on to report that 60% of adult social network users restrict access to their profiles, with 58% of adult social network users restricting access to only certain content within their profiles. Nothing wrong with that, and the ability to set up such privacy settings to enable custom sharing within a network is probably why Facebook has become so popular across a very broad range of users, spanning the age barriers among other demographics.