Posted February 24, 2009 3:04 pm by with 10 comments

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By David Lindop

Is it time to rethink who we market to on the social networking giants?

What do you think the average age of a MySpace and Facebook user is? Perhaps 16 for MySpace and 22 for Facebook?

According to AdAge, new reports from comScore suggest that over 50% of American Facebook users, and 44% of MySpace users, are actually over 35 years old. It goes further to confirm the largest age demographic on both of these social media platforms is now between 35 and 44.


Facebook, which has close to 170 million users worldwide, is difficult to ignore as a marketing channel. Sure it’s full of noise and static and there are faster paying channels, but for sheer scale of opportunity it’s a tempting part of any digital marketing strategy. Add to this the fact that Facebook says its fastest-growing age group is 55+ and there’s a whole new range of products and services that could find traction where before they would have fallen on deaf ears.

Not convinced yet? Pew Internet and American Life released a report stating that of all American adults aged between 18-24, approximately 75% of them have a social networking profile. The report doesn’t say which social networking sites, but it’s not unreasonable to apply these averages to the two dominant players, MySpace and Facebook.

So what does this mean for marketers?

Marketing to MySpace and Facebook isn’t easy, especially if you plan on actively engaging your target demo as opposed to banners and PPC ads, but the wider idea that the older generation are flocking to online networking is increasingly important to consider when putting together your social media marketing strategy, especially if you’re in an industry where your competitors are still using traditional media.

David Lindop is a professional search specialist working on SEO, linkbait & social media marketing at Setfire Media.

  • That collective “eeeew” sound you hear is from all the 13-18 year-olds that just got “creeped-out” at the thought that more people of their parents’ age are on Facebook, than their friends’ age! 😉

  • I would say that these properties were mainstream medias before this report, honestly. The amount of sway and influence that MySpace has on the world is astounding. They have so much power just by a few advertisements on their homepage.

    Facebook doesn’t have the same kind of sway though, because of how “clean” they’ve kept their platform.

    Facebook has given users less control, therefor giving themselves less control, while MySpace has done the opposite and handed over a lot more control to the users, giving themselves more control.

    I feel they’ve been mainstream for a while now, not just recently.

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  • I’ve just checked the MySpace homepage and there’s a HUGE Nokia interactive ad there on both the US and UK versions pushing their latest handset. I don’t know how much that real estate is worth but I’ll bet it’s not cheap 🙂

    Now imagine if it served you different ads depending on your age/gender/location etc.

    Chances are the 55+ group are not going to be interested in a mobile phone handset that shares music as much as they are weekend breaks, or adult learning courses.

    I’ve run tests on facebook using different profiles and they’re really not using it to its fullest potential – dating and loan ads still flood the system because the advertisers are outbidding everyone else. There are some differences depending on whether your settings indicate you are male, female, single etc. but on the whole advertisers could get much better ROI by targetting better.

  • I found your post informative and straightforward to the point. The statistics you’ve stated above is so appealing and convincing for me to start participating or socializing of these 2 giant social network.

  • Who would have thunk it! Amazing demographics. It is all a new and learning experience for me

    Michael Eisenberg’s last blog post..Blaine Real Estate Market Report for January, 2008

  • Actually, as I’m in that age demographic for Facebook and MySpace, as are most of my “friends”, that figure doesn’t really come as a surprise. It’s fairly complex to integrate those platforms into marketing plans, either you advertise blatently, or your company does something worth talking about. Charities like Greenpeace and Oxfam seem fairly competent at managing and promoting their events and activities (ie: donations and volunteer marketing) through their MySpace and Facebook profiles. From charities I have spoken to, you really need a “social networking executive” or someone in a similar role who can spend quality time really making the most of these marketing tools.

  • Chip

    I’d be curious to know how many of those aged 55+ are actively contributing to their profile, or if they just curious about Facebook, etc. because of all the press it gets.

    As far as being “Mainstream Marketing Vehicles”, I don’t think this is proven yet. My experience shows that people do not like marketing messages mixed into their personal networking space.

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