Conventional knowledge dictates that younger generations dominate social media trends. However, older adults are now the largest growing demographic for use of social media. Pew Research found that between April 2009 to May 2010, the number of adults aged 50-64 who use social networking sites such as Facebook and Linkedin grew 88%, while usage among adults who are 64 and over went up by 100%. Editor&Publisher recently wrote an article stating newspapers' largest readership base is 55 years, and according to Pew Research this age group may be spending increasingly more time online.
While internet users ages 18-49 still dominate social platforms, when it concerns consuming news online the statistics appear relatively equal across generations. 44% of users ages 18-29 and 45% of users ages 30-49 read their news online. By comparison, users aged 50-64 who consume their news online is not too far behind the younger population at 42%, while the 64+ age category falls behind at 34%.Yet as social media use continues to grow among people 50 years and older, newspapers will be able fully employ Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms to increase the consumption of news among a wider spectrum of users.
Pew Research revealed that during 2010, the number of adults 50 years and older who use social networks has almost doubled from 22% to 42%. While email remains the primary method for maintaining a social network for this demographic, older internet users are increasingly expanding to social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. 47% of adults ages 50-64 and 26% of adults ages 65 and over have their own accounts on social networking sites. Pew Research speculated that social networking sites may prove to be beneficial in alluring multiple visits per day by users.
Twitter has not experienced as much growth as other social platforms, yet the numbers of older users has increased significantly. In 2009 only 5% of adults 50-64 had used Twitter, while the statistic rose to 11% for 2010. Pew also found that 6% of adults in this demographic use Twitter on a daily basis.
Older adults are drawn to the appeal of connecting with people through the Internet, whether it is to keep in contact with friends from the past, find a support system, or to bridge generation gaps. Nevertheless, the media and technology industries are noticing the growth of users on social networking sites and are trying to take advantage of the trend. According to Business Journal, Google recently announced that it has expanded its search to include Facebook and Twitter, which will facilitate keeping track of social conversations. As the appeal of digitalized social networking increases across all generations, how can the newspaper industry leverage the Internet to target older adults?