Social Media Usage Growing Rapidly Among Older Adults; Marketers Increasing Social Strategy

While social media use has grown dramatically across all age groups, older users have been especially enthusiastic over the past year about embracing new networking tools. Social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older nearly doubled-​from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010. 

  • Between April 2009 and May 2010, social networking use among internet users ages 50–64 grew by 88%–from 25% to 47%.
  • During the same period, use among those ages 65 and older grew 100%–from 13% to 26%.
  • By comparison, social networking use among users ages 18–29 grew by 13%-from 76% to 86%.

"Young adults continue to be the heaviest users of social media, but their growth pales in comparison with recent gains made by older users," explains Marry Madden, Senior Research Specialist for the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project and author of the report. "Email is still the primary way that older users maintain contact with friends, families and colleagues, but many older users now rely on social network platforms to help manage their daily communications."

  • One in five (20%) online adults ages 50–64 say they use social networking sites on a typical day, up from 10% one year ago.
  • Among adults ages 65 and older, 13% log on to social networking sites on a typical day, compared with just 4% who did so in 2009.

"Social media has the potential to bridge generational gaps. There are few other spaces-​online or offline-​where tweens, teens, sandwich generation members, grandparents, friends and neighbors regularly intersect and communicate across the same network," said Madden.

As social media becomes an even more integral part of the marketing landscape, marketers are realizing the importance of a social strategy.  Social media allows marketers to plan their social activities on a long-​term basis rather than focus on one-​off experiments. As marketers continue to invest in social media, its share of marketing budgets is expected to rise.  In fact, a recent survey by King Fish Media find that 75% of the companies surveyed with a social strategy said they plan to increase their investment in the next year.

[Source:  "Internet & American Life Project."  Pew Internet. 27 Aug. 2010.  Web.  29 Aug. 2010;  Williamson, Debro Aho.  "Nearly Three-​Quarters of Marketers Have Social Strategy."  eMarketer. 27 Aug. 2010.  Web.  29, Aug. 2010.]