Facebook’s January US Traffic by Age and Sex: Growth Led by Young Women, Grown Men, and Their Parents

After what appeared to be a slowdown last month, Facebook’s US growth has surged again. More than 108 million people are now using the site every month, up from nearly 103 million people before. Broken down by age and sex, men between the ages of 26 and 34 accounted for the singe largest gain, with more than 600,000 of them joining. Nearly as many women between 18 and 25 joined — 581,000 of them. These groups were followed by people joining of both genders and ages 45 and above.

While every group grew this past month, the rate of growth among younger people was slightly lower than last month. At this point we should note that we gather this data from Facebook’s self-reported advertising stats, and our ongoing analysis of it suggests that data is not always completely accurate. Nielsen, an analytics firm that has a data-sharing partnership with Facebook, recently said that the company had nearly 110 million monthly unique users in December. Other analytics firms showed even higher numbers, as we covered in detail last week. Our numbers should be taken as directionally accurate estimates. Here’s what we’re seeing.

The overall breakdown of US Facebook users continues along existing lines: About half the site is between 18 and 34 and 56% of all users are women. Now, let’s look at last month’s growth numbers.

We’re not sure why so many young women and grown men joined in this month. Lots already have, numerically speaking, so it’s likely just the usual factors, like friends getting friends to sign up.

The growth among older men and women seems a little more unusual. Older dads and grandpas have not traditionally been Facebook users, but they have been lately. About half a million men and women apiece in the 45-54 age group signed up  — mostly moms and dads, we assume. Why? It’s possible that lots of Facebook-using younger people went home for the holidays and made their parents sign up. Facebook saw massive traffic spikes around Christmas and New Year’s, according to Hitwise, and we wonder if this was when thousands of Facebook evangelists fired up the computer — or laptop, or netbook, or iPhone — and taught their relatives how Facebook works.

Now, let’s see how numerical growth translates to growth rates. You may have thought that lots of men ages 55 and above still weren’t too into Facebook — but a lot more of them have been lately. Men between 45 and 54 (dads) had the single largest percentage gain, at 10.5%, but older women and older men were right behind them, with the seemingly small grandpa gain of 202,000 actually being an 8.3% increase.

Overall, though, the growth among grown men and young women helped keep the majority of the site below the age of 34.

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