There is no shortage of myths and conventional wisdom floating around regarding the demographics of those who are on social media. One of the more frustrating of those myths is a common objection I hear from prospects. “Our target market is too old for social media” or, “that stuff is for kids”. Well, I’m afraid that claim just doesn’t hold water. According to the Pew Research Center’s Social Networking Fact Sheet, 74% of online adults were active in one social media network or another.
I decided to research the most surprising stats about age, gender, and income among social media users.
1) Nearly 50% of online adults over the age of 65 are active on social media (Source: Pew Research)
Like I mentioned before, this myth is the one that just won’t go away. The numbers don’t lie. It’s time to face the facts that even though social media started out as a young man’s game, with Facebook famously beginning as a college-only network, the social sphere has expanded to include Gen X’ers and the Baby Boomers, alike.
2) However, less than 20% of adults over the age of 50 use their mobile device for social networking (Source: Pew Research)
It does seem that the more experienced generations are less likely to use their smartphones to access social media. This is valuable insight if you are deciding on your next mobile marketing campaign. If your target audience skews a little higher in the age bracket, perhaps you should stick to the desktop-optimized content and save that new iPhone app for your younger audience.
3) YouTube reaches more adults aged 18 to 34 than any single cable TV network. (Source: Business Insider)
This one even surprised me. But, I guess it speaks to the modern on-demand society that wants to consume targeted content at their discretion. This must be how YouTube became the second largest search engine, behind their owners, Google.
4) 75% of online adults with an income of $75K per year or more are active on social media (Source: Pew Research)
This was actually the second largest income bracket for social media use, making this a really valuable statistic if your message or product is directed at a more affluent crowd.
5) Facebook is the most dominant social network with over 70% of online users being active on the site (Source: Marketing Charts)
Despite claims that Facebook is slipping, they still appear to be far-and-away the leaders in the space. With an ever-growing average user age and speculation of an impending penetration into China, don’t expect Facebook to lose any luster any time soon.
6) The second largest social networking site – LinkedIn, with 22% of all online adults being active (Source: Marketing Charts)
This came as a slight surprise to many who assumed that Twitter would hold the second spot, due to its recent IPO and apparent climb in the rankings. Despite that, LinkedIn not only holds the second spot, overall, but they also boast a “pronounced skew towards well-educated users”.
While these stats are quite telling and are quite effective in breaking down some of the false conventional wisdom that is floating around, they should only serve as the beginning of your target audience research. As I have written before, the most important factor in getting the most out of your social media marketing, is by effectively targeting the right people.