Age Does Not Divide Social Media Users
September 23, 2013 Jenny Thomas
There was a time when social media looked more like a teenage hangout and no place for proper grown adults. Times have changed and it looks like social media has conquered the final frontier: senior citizens. At least, that’s the findings of a recent report from Pew Research Center, which revealed people ages 65 and older have roughly tripled their presence on social networking sites in the last four years, from 13 percent in the spring of 2009 to 43 percent now.
We’ve been harping on social media for the last few years (just see the Related Stories section below), and we’ve also been telling you about IBM‘s moves to stay on top of the social media wave. But the folks at Pew have been studying online adults’ social networking site use since 2005 as part of its Internet and American Life Project, and they have seen some interesting trends in recent years.
When Pew first started studying social adoption by asking adults, age 18 and up, about their use of social media in February 2005, just 8 percent of online adults said they used social networking sites. The latest polls of online adults, as of May 2013, found almost three quarters (72 percent) of online U.S. adults now use social networking sites. And was a jump up of 5 percent from 67 percent in late 2012.
The Pew report also specifically studied online adults’ use of Twitter. The percentage of internet users who are on Twitter has more than doubled since November 2010, currently standing at 18 percent, which is roughly double the 8 percent of online adults who told Pew researchers they used Twitter in November 2010. Internet users ages 18 to 29 being the most likely to use Twitter at 30 percent.
Twitter has certainly exploded around the IBM i. A look around IBM’s website shows just about every employee and department at Big Blue has a Twitter feed, including IBM CEO Ginni Rometty, who has over 7,000 followers although she has yet to Tweet. The vast majority of companies in our ecosystem, either those running IBM i or selling products that run on it, have also adopted Twitter into their social media programs, albeit with varying levels of enthusiasm.
It’s not difficult to surmise that younger adults continue to be the most likely social media users, but one of the more interesting stories about the social networking population has been the growth among older internet users in recent years. Although online seniors still remain less likely than other age groups to use social networking sites, adoption rates for those 65 and older have tripled in the last four years, from 13 percent in the spring of 2009 to 43 percent today.
Check out this graphic, which breaks down social media users several different way, including by age.
What stands out to me is that no matter the category, there is a significant number of online adults indicating they are participating in social media. Yes, the “youngsters” are in the lead and the “seniors” are in the minority, but it’s clear, across the spectrum social media has taken hold.
The IBM i has been stuck with the stigma of being an older platform, but it would be an easy compare to think about those who work on our favorite platform and how they have adopted social media. While the IBM i may have a larger population in the “older” category (myself included, in case anyone is feeling insulted), we also have our YiPS (Young i Professionals), and regardless of age, we’re all trying to figure out how to make social media work for us personally and professionally.
Over at Big Blue, there’s a lot of emphasis on social media and how analyzing social sentiment can help your organization gain insights that can benefit marketing, customer service, product development, and supply chain efforts. If you’re looking for help on how to make social media work for your organization, IBM has solutions to show you.
This Pew report is based on data from telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from April 17 to May 19, 2013, among a sample of 2,252 adults, age 18 and older.
It looks like no matter your age, we will all eventually come to the same conclusion about social media: if you can’t beat them, join them.