In April of 2009, just 22% of Americans age 50 and over were using social networking tools such as Facebook. (Source: Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project) But by May of this year, 42% of Americans 50 and older were posting status updates or sending tweets. A near-majority — 47% — of people 50 to 64 are now using social networks.
More specifically, the Pew report found that 13% of Americans 65 and older now log in to a social network on a typical day, compared with 4% in 2009.
What does this translate to for marketers? An unprecedented opportunity to reach the 50+ target market in a captive location. While young adults are using the venue more intensely, the level of growth of adoption towards social media in the baby boomer plus age group is truly unparalleled.
While it is true this group still relies heavily on email for contacting family, friends and colleagues, social media is fast becoming part of their daily communication network- probably as a result of it's speed and convenience, not to mention its obviously widespread use.
There is no irony that Facebook was started as a way for college kids to network, but that it may end up being the venue that closes the gap between generations, as the dicey question of whether to "friend" Mom and Dad becomes an increasingly universal dilemma, even for middle-aged people. When you think of it, how many other places are there in the world - either on or offline- where kids, teens, mid-generation members, grandparents, neighbors, teachers, friends and colleagues can regularly intersect and communicate?
NOTE: Pew's findings come from a nationwide survey of 2,252 American adults who were interviewed on land phone lines and cellphones. The margin of error for the total sample is plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.