The Pew Internet and American Life Project has released a study called “Social Networking Sites and Our Lives” based on data collected late in 2010 about social networking sites and their impact in a variety of areas.
Normally, I would be cautious of data collected over 6 months ago but after looking over the report it seems that the Internet cycle of “news today and ancient news tomorrow” doesn’t apply as much in this case as usual. In fact, I highly recommend you look it over.
The study looks at a wide variety of aspects regarding social networking and the one I was most intrigued by is social networking by age group.
Here’s an example.
If this is truly a trend that the older segments of society are becoming more engaged in social media and, for some odd reason, the younger generations less involved, the business implications could be huge.
For instance, with the concentration on local and the mobile world there is an assumption that this group is a younger demographic. That may be true but if they are becoming less involved in social networking that throws a monkey wrench into the plans of many.
Logic would dictate that these numbers are incorrect but that logic could be more emotional and hype driven than we have ever given credit. If that is even slightly true that is a bad sign.
This next chart looks at age distribution by social networking site.
The information is interesting across the board but what caught my eye was the percentage of younger folks using other social networking sites outside of what is now the mainstreamed Big Three of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Maybe this indicates that people are not as interested in whether EVERYONE is there but rather they are finding niche alternatives to cater to their particular likes and / or dislikes. Who knows?
This report is chock full of information like the claim that Facebook users have more close friends than non users and other thing sot either make you go “Are you kidding me?!” or “Really? I didn’t know that!” and all stops in between.
Check it out. It’s rare that information can be this interesting with a reasonably confident expectation of hype free influence.