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The Age of Social Networks

By Brian Solis, blogger at and principal of FutureWorks, Author of the new book
Engage!, Co-Author, Putting the Public Back in Public Relations and Now Is Gone

Social networks share a common ingredient in design and intent, the connection
of people and the facilitation of conversations, sharing, and discovery. What they
do not share however, are culture, behavior, and prevailing demographics. Each
network is unique in its genetic and cultural composition and it is for that reason
that we benefit by becoming digital anthropologists in addition to new media

Demographics are distributed within all social networks, but only concentrated
within a select few. Where specific demographics materialize varies from network
to network and as such, the more effective social strategies and tactics are
designed to reach target audiences where, when and how they engage.

Over the years, I've relied on Google Ad Planner to surface the critical
demographics in order to construct meaningful and targeted social programming.
Pingdom recently examined the data and packaged the results in a visually rich
presentation worthy of sharing.

The study included 19 social networks...


(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

Age Distribution

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

The disposition of age groups within social networking as a whole is
representative of the state of social media engagement, but this is fleeting. Age
groups will only continue to meander as online networking becomes pervasive. At
the moment, we can see that those 35-44 dominate the social web, representing
25% of total participation. For those who have actively monitored adoption of
social networks, this next stat might not come as a surprise, but it's worth
highlighting nonetheless. Following at 19% isn't a younger generation at all, in
fact, those 45-54 are the second most active group within social networks, just
ahead of the 25-34 segment at 18%. Individuals under 17 rank fourth with 15%. I
find it fascinating that the 45 to 65+ group, those who are usually considered
laggards in the technology adoption cycle, symbolize almost one-third of total
users of social networks. They're equally connecting with not only each other but
also the younger generations who are spending an increasing amount of time
online as well.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

Distribution of Age Within Social Networks
Reviewing the age groups broadly across social media serves only as a primer to
the deeper level of analysis required to identify exactly where we need to connect
with target demographics. As such, Pingdom performed the first level of
segmentation to showcase how age groups are distributed within each specific
social network.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

Bebo - Over 40% are 17 and under followed by 35-44 and 55-64 at just under
15% each - The 45-54 dominate at just over 30% followed by 20% at

55-64 and just under 10% at 65+ (Represents the highest concentration of the
older demographics with 78% over 35)

Delicious - Over 25% of users are 35-44

Digg - 35-44 constitute over 25% of the total user base followed by just under
20% at 25-34 (80% of users are over 25)

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

Facebook - ~25% of users are 45-54 with the 35-44 group at just 20% (61% are
35 or older)

FriendFeed - Shy of 40%, 35-44 represent the majority of users

Friendster - Polar opposites with 25% under 17 and roughly 20% 45-54

Hi5 - 25-34 collectively represent close to 30% of all users - Almost 20% are under 17 with the 35-44 category also representing
just under 20%

LinkedIn - Less than 30% are 35-44, 20% are 45-54 and more than 15% are

LiveJournal -25-34 and 35-44 are tied at 20+% percent each

MySpace - Over 30% of all users are under 17 and slightly less than 20% are

Ning - 25% of 35-44 and over 60% are 35 and older

Reddit - 30% are 35-44

Slashdot - More than 30% are 35-44

StumbleUpon - The 35-44 segment symbolize just under 30% of all users
followed by 25-34 at just under 20%

Twitter - More than 25% of users are 35-44, trailed by the 45-54 group at less
than 20% (65% of all users are over the age of 35 with less than 20% representing
the 24 and under age groups)

Tagged - Almost 30% are 45-54 and slightly over 25% are under 17

Xanga - Over 20% are under 17

Governing Age Groups

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

If we further review the data, we can see which age groups are dominant across
the social Web

17 and under: 21%

18-24: 0%

25-34: 5%

35-44: 58%

45-54: 16%

55-64: 0%

65 and over: 0%

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

Average User Age by Network
Cascading further down stream, the data when crunched, reveals the average age
per network, which allows businesses to better understand the general user
within each.

Bebo - 28.4 - 44.9
Delicious - 41.3
Digg - 38.5
Facebook - 38.4
FriendFeed - 38.4
Friendster - 33.4
Hi5 - 33.5 - 35.8

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

LinkedIn - 44.3
LiveJournal - 35.2
MySpace - 31.8
Ning - 37.8
Reddit - 37.4
Slashdot - 40.4
StumbleUpon - 38.5
Twitter - 39.1
Tagged - 34.4
Xanga - 32.3

In social media, not only do women rule, but it seems that the middle-aged are
Social Media's largest share holders. Again, the average number is just that, a
generalization of users classified by age, not by usage, theme, or connectivity. As
we identify whom it is we need to reach and why, analyzing data as it relates to
age groups is just one side of a multi-faceted program. In order to possess and
convey value and meaning, it is anthropology, sociology and the psychographic
mapping of people to themes, interests, and aspirations that will prevail now and
over time. It's the difference between visibility and presence, and in social media,
presence is felt.

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Please consider reading my brand new book, Engage!

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

Get Putting the Public Back in Public Relations and The Conversation Prism:

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Image Credit: Pingdom

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

Brian Solis is globally recognized as one of most prominent thought leaders and
published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has
influenced the effects of emerging media on the convergence of marketing,
communications, and publishing. He is principal of FutureWorks, an award-winning New
Media agency in Silicon Valley, and has led interactive and social programs for Fortune
500 companies, notable celebrities, and Web 2.0 startups. is ranked
among the top of world's leading business and marketing online resources.

Solis is the author of Engage! The complete guide for businesses to build, cultivate and
measure success in the new Web.

In 2009, Brian Solis, along with Deirdre Breakenridge, released, Putting the Public back
in Public Relations.

Connect with Brian Solis on Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Google Buzz, Facebook
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(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis