Baby Boomers Renew Their Connections With Facebook

Baby Boom StampAlmost half of the online Baby Boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1964) update their Facebook or other social networks regularly. According to eMarketer Online senior Analyst Lisa E. Philips, “About 47% of online boomers maintain a profile on at least one social network, according to several sources. Their contacts include family, friends and co-workers of all ages.” The report goes on to discuss Boomers’ favorite networks and methods of buying online. Of the networks included as “social networks” in the study, 73% of the group maintained a Facebook profile.

The key word in the report is “maintain”. The baby-boomer respondents that indicated they maintained a social network profile, which implies regular use of the tool. This was a surprising discovery considering an earlier, June 2009 study indicating that 47.5% of boomers had simply created a profile.

An interesting result of the study is that Boomers cite “creating and renewing personal connections online” as the biggest draw to social networks. This certainly corroborates with the Boomers I know. In my experience, the standard progression for new social networkers is :

  1. The boomer thinks “Why use this Social Network when I have email?”
  2. After too many invites, the Boomer accepts reluctantly.
  3. Their first impression is surprise when the “recommended friends” list magically provides them with a list of old friends they haven’t seen in years.
  4. They use the tool relentless for 2 weeks.
  5. They settle into the typical Facebook routine.

The study also showed that Twitter is not very popular with this demographic, at 10%. Also, Boomers don’t read blogs: the number of blog reader/writers was below 10%. 49% of boomers use online reviews and recommendations on a retailer’s site to make their purchase, but only 9% looked to other blogs or communities for recommendations.

Another interesting contrast is the growth rate with respect to other demographics. From 2007-2008, we saw the Millenials and Generation X increase from 71% and 51% to 76% and 57%, respectively, while Boomers increased marginally from 30% to 31%. However, from 2008 to 2009, this rate shot up for boomers, jumping from 31% to 47%! The other generations continued to increase by 1% and 4%, respectively. The penetratoin of millenials tha tuse Facebook is extremely high, and the growth areas are in the older segments of the population, and the numbers are begining to show. Rupert Murdoch’s assertion that Facebook is just a “directory” may have an element of truth to it, in that everyone is going to soon be listed!

Facebook’s progression through various demographics began with its release to Harvard students in 2004. Its quick early success had it expanded to other Ivy League schools and eventually to all universities in Canada and th eUnited States. By late 2006, it was open to high schools and corporations, and on September 26, 2006, it was released to all people ages 13 an older (although this is not strongly enforced).

Generational Facebook Use Chart

Generational Facebook Use Chart 2

Baby boom stamp image found via BusinessWeek