Is Facebook Shifting to an Older Demographic?

Two-thirds of American adults are Facebook users.

About 74% visit Facebook daily. In 2017 Facebook lost 1.2 million users under 25 years of age…and Facebook is still growing.

If the younger generation prefers other social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and Twitter, why is Facebook still the top social media platform?

Originally known as thefacebook.com, Facebook was founded on February 4, 2004, by Mark Zuckerberg a 19 years old Harvard student.

Within 24-hours 1,200 students signed up and by 2010 Facebook had 400 million users.

Facebook was an instant success for young adults. Fourteen years later Mark is no longer a young adult, and neither is Facebook.

You must be at least 13 years old to create a Facebook account. It means that the 13-year old in 2004 are in 2018 in their late 20s.

The young students who initially signed up for Facebook, are in their 30s now.

They have become the parents. Those who were in their late 30s and 40s have become the grandparents and seniors.

Younger Generations Are Migrating

Facebook has lost its attraction for many teenagers and young adults. One of the reasons is that parents and grandparents are also on Facebook. There’s no more ‘privacy.’ 

Parents can see what their younger generation is posting and what they are up to. The younger generation is migrating to platforms that aren’t as popular with their parents. Where they don’t have to worry about the comment, their parent or grandparent is going to post on their newsfeed.

Fourteen years ago, Facebook didn’t have much competition in the social media arena. Today there are a variety of social media platforms to choose from to stay in touch with friends. Each platform has its own unique benefits to communicate and socialize online. Therefore, younger people aren’t limiting themselves to using only one or two social media platforms.

Another reason for the migration is that young adults like the visual content, social media platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube provide.

Why Leave Friends

People who’ve been using Facebook for years have built a network of friends throughout the years. They may say it’s easy to leave Facebook, but most of the users won’t just opt-out and leave their social networks.

Initially, many parents and grandparents created Facebook accounts to be part of the lives of their children and grandchildren. They joined out of curiosity. Facebook was a great medium to ‘check up’ on the kids and grandchildren. They used it as a tool to stay informed about what’s going on in the younger generations’ lives.

Soon it became obvious how easy it was to stay in touch with friends and family, even those who were geographically too far for regular visits. It was easy to search and find old acquaintances and to reconnect and share posts and photos.

Facebook presented opportunities to connect with like-minded people who had the same interests.

For the older generation who became more housebound, Facebook created an alternative. It became possible to still ‘visit’ friends and family, although they were now connecting online.

Demographic Statistics

In 2013 the average age of Facebook users in the U.S. was 40 years old. In 2018 56% of online users aged 65+ years use Facebook.

Facebook usage is growing under adult children and senior parents. Facebook and LinkedIn users aged 65 years and older have increased from 27% in 2013 to 35% in 2018. Although senior adults would visit Facebook maybe twice in a day, they spend an average of 35 minutes on Facebook per day.

A survey study done by Pennsylvania State University showed there were 4 main motivators why the elderly use Facebook: social bonding, curiosity, social bridging, and because of family requests. Requests from families, however, had negative reactions too. Many senior users didn’t want to create a Facebook account because of the family’s insistence.

According to Dr. Laura Carstensen, head of Stanford Center on Longevity there are two main reasons why the older generation is the fastest growing group in social media.

  • The younger generation has saturated social media because the joined at an early age. The older generation took a while before they joined Facebook and other social media platforms.
  • People are aging with knowledge of technology. Baby boomers who become seniors are familiar with technology. Becoming active on social media is not as strange to them as one would think.

In Conclusion

Facebook is a social media platform. In other words, people communicate on an informal social level. Content is shared. Questions are asked. Comments are in abundance about anything and everything posted on Facebook.

It is, therefore, a great platform to connect with potential clients and to get to know them in a relaxed, informal manner. If your Facebook posts are informative and of value, people will share your posts, and it will reach the people who need your services and expertise.

With the shifting of Facebook to an older demographic, Facebook is becoming an essential marketing tool for businesses whose target market are adult children and the elderly.

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