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Is Age More A Factor Than Gender In Social Media Habits?

Facebook alone enjoys broad adoption across age groups and genders, reports Netpop research. As MarketingProfs described the findings, “Other social media sites do not have such ubiquitous appeal."

Using women as an example, Facebook's penetration is about 90% among socially-networked adult Americans, and about 92% for networked women aged 18-34; and 35+. But YouTube is far more popular among women in that younger demographic, at about 66%. After age 35, the percentage drops to 56%.

Also true, 65% of men and 48% of women aged 18-34 use Wikipedia, versus 40% of men and 28% of women after 35. It gets worse for Twitter, where the 34% of young men drops to 17% after 35, and 48% of women drops to just 10%.

So there is still some gender difference, but age is a greater differentiator. Interestingly, young social networkers aged 18 to 24 spend 25% of their time online with social networks, and just 17% of it on email; older networkers aged 35 to 44 spend just 17% of their online time with social networks , 26% of it on email.

Still, MarketingProfs was probably offbase in its interpreting the results as "Age, not gender, drives most social media use." In November, Pew Internet released findings that LinkedIn skews strongly male (at 63%) and Twitter female (64%). If gender were unimportant those figures would be far more inline.
Hobbies and Interests
The difference is in how the older social networker spends time, versus the younger one. Pew Internet found that middle-aged and older adults place a relatively high value on social media as a tool to connect with others around a hobby and interest. They’re not just finding old flames and frat buddies. Just10% of 18-29 year olds use social media to connect over a hobby or interest (e.g., golf, political candidates, film) compared to 16% of 30-49 year olds and 18% of 50-64 year olds. So brands will likely find their social media marketing efforts more fruitful with older consumers.

Utility and age go hand in hand, which is why neither the youngest or oldest Americans bother much with LinkedIn, and it’s highest use is among young people in early career, between ages 23 and 35.

So perhaps brands like Ping and TD Ameritrade will find strongly interested networkers in LinkedIn advertising (when LinkedIn finally gets around to it) than they would on Facebook. And perhaps younger-skewing brands like Skittles and Axe will find their Facebook ads go unseen.

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