social networking: ages 20 – 60 and up

the new york times has an interesting article today on why we’ve been seeing social networking sites refocus their attention towards an older crowd. the argument, and a good one, is that the younger demographic tends to stick around only as long as you’re on the cutting edge or only as long as you’re the latest trend. a few days ago it was friendster, yesterday it was myspace, today it’s facebook, tomorrow it will be something completely different.

the older demographic, on the other hand, likes the comfortable. once they’ve learned how to use one site and have created a network, they are most likely to stay there regardless of the latest trends.

with that in mind, here’s a quick look at 4 social networks and the demographic they target.

1. facebook

target demographic: 20 years and older
what can you do with it: this is one social network that doesn’t really much explanation. but in case you’ve been hiding under a rock these past three years, facebook let’s you do pretty much everything you want. from networking with your friends, family, and co-workers, to sharing any kind of digital media (and this doesn’t even include all the fun you can have by integrating 3rd part applications into your profile).

2. multiply

target demographic: 30 years and older
what you can do with it: multiply lets you create, post, and view blog entries, photographs, videos, music, links, events, and private messages to/from other users.

3. teebeedee

target demographic: 40 years and older
what you can do with it: teebeedee is not as developed as the rest of the networks mentioned here. from what i could see, while you can make profiles to network with other users, the site is mostly focused on question-and-answer discussions about different topics.

4. eons

target demographic: 50 years and older
what you can do with it: eons lets you create and personalize your profile using photographs, videos, and widgets.

with almost 80 million baby boomers (almost three times the number of teenagers) and the number of internet users who are 55 or older being the same as the number of internet users in the 18-34 age range, it makes sense to try and capture a market that’s equally as large but far from being as fickle as the younger crowd. furthermore, given that sites like facebook and myspace already have a majority of the younger market in their paws (and are facing competition from dozens of other virtually similar networks) it seems not only logical but rather smart to tend to the older, untapped market where you can exist with almost no competition.

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10 thoughts on “social networking: ages 20 – 60 and up

  1. Svetlana Gladkova

    Muhammad, great post as always. I wanted to add something to it that you may have not noticed yourself yet. And this is the trend I’ve been seen on StumbleUpon for quite some time already: there are quite a high number of people there that join SU after they retire for the sake of discovering something new (we both know this is what StumbleUpon is all about). They realize that Internet has lots and lots of great things to offer and they rush to this destination to find things that may be of interest to you. And you know what? My best friends on StumbleUpon are either boomers or retired persons – I have never met a younger person there that actually enjoys all the opportunities and conversations SU can offer.

  2. Geoff

    Great post. I know that many businesses avoid social media altogether because the demographic tends to be so skewed to less-than-ideal demographics. Nice to see some sites are really on the ball for both users and potential advertisers.

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  4. Fiar

    Hi Muhammed.

    I’d also like to add that while the 18-34 crowd may be more casual in spending their money, the older crowd also tends to have more money to spend.

    One more reason not to limit your demographic to just the young and reckless.

  5. Kelley

    Since older users are harder to obtain than trend-jumping teenagers, I think these sites will most likely not grow as quickly as MySpace or Facebook however they may offer greater longevity due to the reliability of the more mature user.

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  7. Brian Freeston

    Boomers tend to surf for different reasons – to gather information and to have deeper, longer lasting connections. One site that’s started quite recently – wanobe – appealing to the more mature market in a different way – it’s content rich – info and news, there’s a budding community and a play area, including retro games!

  8. Shane

    This is the first article I’ve come across dealing with the demographics of some of these social networking sites. Its good to see there is an older crowd on some of these sites; they should help stabilize them. Also, I can relate better to many of them than the kids.



  9. George

    Great article. I’m amazed by the wonder of social networking, really. A few week ago Sandy Rowley and his Mega Star Media team built me a social networking site for my customers, just so that they know each other and keep coming back. The impact was amazing, and like you say in this article it affects wide range of visitors as well.

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