Though it remains to be seen how online social networking will mature as a marketing venue, the phenomenon already has outgrown its youth-oriented phase. A report issued last month by Experian Marketing Services shows older users accounting for a growing share -- and the youngest adults for a shrinking share -- of visits to such sites.
The report compares the age-group composition of the population visiting online social-networking sites on Nov. 28, 2008, and on Nov. 28, 2009. On that date in 2008, 18-24-year-olds accounted for 32 percent of all visits to such sites. A year later, the figure for this age cohort had fallen to 22 percent.
The shift was in the opposite direction for people 55 and older. On that date in 2008, this age group accounted for 7 percent of visits to social-networking sites. A year later, the figure had climbed to 12 percent.
There was little year-to-year movement in other age brackets.