Report: 23% Of People Over 50 Prefer Facebook As Their Social Network

New research from AARP finds that social networking is more important than ever to older Americans, with over 25% of people over 50 using a social network service. The research provides solid evidence that this demographic should be targeted as part of advertisers’ social media campaigns.

According to the report, more than a quarter (27%) of Americans age 50+ use social media websites, with Facebook being the most popular, followed by MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter. The findings came from interviews conducted via telephone in 2010, among a nationally representative sample of 1,360 adults age 50 or older. A different study, based on a February 2010 telephone study and issued jointly by Arbitron and Edison Research, found that nearly half of the overall US population has a social networking profile. While seniors lag in social network participation, the numbers are significant and, according the Arbitron/Edison Research senior activity those sites has grown dramatically over the past three years.

Other conclusions from the AARP’s full report [PDF] include:

Forty-nine percent of those 50 to 64, and 40 percent of all adults 50+, consider themselves extremely or very comfortable using the Internet.

Facebook is the most popular social networking site for Americans 50+, with 23 percent of survey participants reporting they prefer it – followed by MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter, all at about 4 percent.

Among adults 50+ who use social media websites, three-quarters (73 percent) are connected to relatives other than children and grandchildren, three-fifths are connected to their children (62 percent) and one-third (36 percent) to grandchildren.

“The latest data tells us that more and more, social networking is becoming a part of everyday life for Americans 50+, and boomers in particular,” said AARP Chief Communications Officer Kevin Donnellan.

Results come as AARP debuts its overhauled website, with an increased focus on social networking and its 276,000-strong online community. The new allows users to share content seamlessly between the online community and other social networking sites. New navigation and enhanced search capability also provides better results. Articles, pictures and videos are easier to access and use. Additionally, by July much of AARP’s online content will be available on handheld devices.