iStrategyLabs finds a burst in Facebook users aged 55 and older from January 2009 until July, while traffic from high school and college users drops roughly 20 percent on the social network. This follows research from comScore that found Twitter use for users 25 to 54 has grown. The Twitter burst was chalked up to more professional use, but how can we explain the boom in users 55+?
Months after research indicated
that Twitter's growth burst was fueled by working
users in the 25- to 54-year-old age range, Facebook has experienced a
"staggering increase," in users-513.7 percent-aged 55 and older in
the last six months.
iStrategyLabs, which culled demographics and statistics from Facebook's social ads
, found that fewer than 1 million users aged 55 and older used
Facebook in January 2009. Conversely, more than 5.8 million Facebook users fell
in the 55+ age range as of July 4.
At the other end of the spectrum, iStrategyLabs found that Facebook use by high
school and college users dropped 16.5 percent and 21.7 percent, respectively.
"There have been rumors that these younger user groups are being
alienated by their parents joining the service, and this data seems to prove
it," iStrategyLabs CEO Peter Corbett
wrote in this statement, which includes a chart on his findings
Reader Ecogordo wrote after Corbett's post: "My guess is that high
school users are worried that their parents are spying on them and that they
are focusing in texting on their phones. They have to migrate somewhere. If
they are looking for a place to network for their groups, they will find
another place. Where?"
Others aren't so sure about the data. Reader Andrea noted:
"I am not sure I completely buy this data analysis. 24% growth in the
below 18s and 5% growth in 18-24 makes intuitive sense. I have no trouble
believing that there is a slowing in the rate of growth at the 18+ level given
that they are all captured while still in HS. I think the dip from Jan to July
in users who affiliate at College or HS level could be summer transitions, not
true drops in volume. Those who just graduated HS or College no longer fall
into the "currently enrolled" and the new ones are not yet captured. If I am
wrong, then these numbers represent a real decline of 2.5 million users which
does not align with the age demo data."
ReadWriteWeb's Marshall Kirkpatrick noted that undeclared education levels are way up
that many high school and college students may simply no longer be listing
their schools at all on the site."
It may just mean that Facebook's user base has grown up in the last five
years, leaving the campy confines of high school and college student
socializing and joining more direct messaging services such as Twitter or other
smaller, more low-key services where the scene isn't so crowded.
Perhaps, like an aging rock band or pop star, the cool factor for Facebook
has subsided, rendering it a more utilitarian product for business users and a
convenience for retired people who just want to connect with their friends and
This brings one back to the upswing in Baby Boomer use, which comes after
comScore found in April that 45-54 year olds are 36 percent more likely than
average to visit Twitter, making them the highest indexing age group, followed
by 25-34 year olds, who are 30 percent more likely. comScore attributed this
trend toward older visitors to the fact that so many business professionals
have started using Twitter.
But what constitutes what iStrategyLabs' Corbett termed the "staggering
growth" in Facebook users 55 and older? No is sure. Read more on TechMeme
about this topic here
Meanwhile, Facebook got a nice boost from Ning social network creator and
Netscape browser pioneer Marc Andreessen, who in the process of announcing his
new venture capital firm said
Facebook will make $500 million in sales this year. In five
years, he expects the leading social network to rake in billions of dollars.