One of the prevailing arguments largely used against social intelligence (the collection and distilling of ethnographic insights from discussions across the open social universe) has been that participation across social media is largely limited to younger demographics and not inclusionary of older segments. Although younger age segments have a dominant position across social media, older segments are well represented and actually represent the fastest growing element across most corners of the open social universe.
According to New Media Trend Watch 33 percent of the 80 million Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) use social media, which is over 26 million individuals across the United States.
Looking at massive mainstream social networks specifically, Fast Company reports the fastest growing demographic for Twitter is the 55-64 year age bracket, a segment that has grown 79% since 2012.
For Facebook and Google+ the 45 to 54-age segment is the fastest growing demographic, seeing a 46 percent jump for Facebook and 56 percent leap for Google+.
This growth has not been contained to the mainstream social networks however and has spanned online communities, blogs and open comment sites, aside from the massive networks.
Today, 67 percent of Internet users between the ages of 50 and 64 are using online social circles, according to Pew. Beyond this, the segment of Internet users 65 and older who engage social media has dramatically increased from 13 percent in 2009 to 43 percent in 2013.
With 60 percent of seniors online according to Forrester, representing over 21 million individuals, over eight million seniors are actively engaging across the open social universe. If this growth trend continues that segment will approach 12 million in two year’s time.
Again, this is not to say that youth doesn’t have a dominant position across social media, however the claim that older population segments are not widely participating in social media is simply not the case and certainly not an adequate argument to ignore the vast discussions spanning the open social universe. Getting a deep understanding into each demographic segment with social intelligence is a powerful weapon for brands.
Gaining insight specific to the older populations is valuable in terms of the segment’s size (~21 million seniors in the US), income and brand attitudes, where 63 percent of seniors tend to be brand loyal compared to 53 percent of online adults in the US, according to Forrester.