orr7 First a warning – I use a bunch of numbers to arrive at my point, which is, the strategy of a Social Media presence requires analysis and alignment with your goals (personal or corporate) relative to your online presence.  Without a strategy, you’ll try everything and often achieve nothing.

On to the analysis then – The Pew Internet & American Life Project just released a report on Adults and Social Networking, which provided some illuminating information about the demographics of the social networking (SocNet) arena and the top three SocNets; MySpace, Facebook & LinkedIn.

The conclusion is that the most popular SocNets are not as young as many think; as expected, LinkedIn is older and much more business-oriented than either MySpace or Facebook, but we’ve recognized that trend for the last few year.  that’s water way under the bridge for many of us.  Though the demographic on MySpace and Facebook skews to a younger population with the percentages, there are a BOATload of older Americans using these networks, for pretty much the same reasons as the younger crowd – to stay connected with friends.

Let’s look at the Pew numbers and use the US Census 2005 to 2007 estimates to get hard numbers of the population.

Age Band

Pew %

US Census Population

Extended Count

18-24 / (20-24 = Census age band) 75% 20M 15M
25-34 57% 39.9M 22.8M
35-44 30% 43M 12.9M
45-54 19% 43M 8.17M
55-64 10% 30M 3M

What the table suggests is what we might have already known that most of the US population is older, 35+ is what I’ve focused on as ‘older.’  When we take the sheer number, not the percentage of younger adults who use a social network to stay in contact with friends and compare it to the number of older users, the sheer number of adults in the older crowd catches up quickly.

While the age bands do not match up perfectly, we can use the correlation of the Census Bureau and the Pew numbers to estimate that a bit more than 24M ARE more older users in the social networks overall.  Older in my comparison is 35 and up, so if include the age band of between 25 to 34 as younger users, the number goes up to 37.8M vs. the 24M for older.  Connecting the dots then is that of the 68.1M social network users in the US, 38.8% of them are aged 35 to 64 – often a more affluent and influential population.

These stats play into TheSocialMediaBible.com recommendation to take the time to assess your objectives and align them with your online presence in a strategy that is most likely to connect you with your audience.  These stats play to the larger online SocNets for sure, but there are more an more niches SocNets coming up all the time, thanks to services like Ning and KickApps.  With a look around, you may find that your marketing dollars allocated to social media CAN go pretty far to connect with your specific target audience.