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Media Bistro & PC World on Baby Boomers: Facebook’s Growth

On July 8, Media Bistro reported stats from iStategyLabs for Facebook.

The report says that there have been rumors that “younger users are being alienated by their parents joining the service. And this data seems to prove it.”

All jokes aside, my grad school stats text “How To Lie and Cheat with Statistics” seems apropos here. At the very least, this is opinion-bending—at its worst, it is faulty analysis and logic.

Media Bistro chose to headline this article, “Next for Facebook: Early Bird Specials?” While my initial response is some sort of primal scream, this really is “everything old is new again.”

Apparently Facebook’s key advertising demographic is age 18-24. That demo is now outpaced by 25-34 (60.8% growth) year olds and 35-54 (190.2% growth) year olds, and then there is the dreaded 513.7% growth in the 55+ demo.

“That puts a damper on Facebook’s 70.8% overall growth, which looks good on its face but doesn’t bode well for advertising.” (The site also experienced 142.4% growth in Atlanta, but we aren’t blaming the South for its demise!)

Could Facebook go the way of say, radio or network television? Horrors. Not to be trendy, but OMG! When did 513.7% growth in any demographic, in any medium, spell demise? Why are we still having this conversation with brand and marketing managers? Shouldn’t the advertising dollars follow the growth?

The article goes on to say that this growth in older consumers may explain why Facebook is “passing its prime as the preeminent social network.” (As opposed to reaching its prime?)

So, to Media Bistro – do your research. Early Bird Specials are the creation of businesses catering to the WWII cohort. Not relevant to anyone under the age of 75. Read AARP’s research. Or the Pew report on Internet usage. Beware of generalizations or perpetuating ridiculous stereotypes.

Boomers are an almost 20-year cohort, today ranging from 45 to 63 years old. There are nearly 80 million of us, the largest demographic cohort ever. It was only a matter of time before mature consumers discovered Facebook as a tool (not necessarily a social network) and began to join.

Those numbers had nowhere to go but up! (And conversely you would expect younger demos to level off or begin to decline, as they were early adopters or are moving on to the next “big thing.”)

So I ask you, what is the next big ruin for our generation?