Social media has been developing faster than ever. The traditional “word-of-mouth” publicity has been replaced by “word-of-web”. Social media not only links you and your friends, but also provides companies an interactive way to communicate with consumers.
The most active age group on social media is generation Y, also known as the Millennials, who were born after 1981. This blogpost focuses on the 18-34 age group, which is considered the Millenials.
A key formative characteristic for Millennials is early and frequent exposure to technology, which has advantages and disadvantages in terms of cognitive, emotional, and social outcome. For example, they rely heavily on technology for entertainment, to interact with others — and even for emotional regulation. Members have experienced long periods of economic prosperity (until the past few years) and a rapid advance in instant communication technologies, social networking, and globalization. These external events have shaped Gen Y and influenced their social media use.
A “broad brush” description of millennials starts with the observation that many members grew up with the computer; they have mastered its use for many aspects of their lives, particularly communication. They are often described as technologically savvy, and the most visually sophisticated of any generation. A need to interact with others is a key reason for Millennials’ use of social media. Social media users 18 to 34 years old are more likely than older age groups to prefer social media for interactions with acquaintances, friends and family. They are also more likely to value others’ opinions in social media and to feel important when they provide feedback about brands or products. Millennials also actively contribute, create and mash content, and as a result they gravitate towards social media sites where they can participate, stay connected and multitask through technology. Moreover, Millennials use social media for the same purposes as other cohorts: for information, leisure, entertainment, socializing and experiencing a sense of community.
On the other hand, people who are born earlier than the Millennials have a different behavior on social media. Comparing to the Millennials’ 87% on Facebook and 37% on Twitter, the older group remains 63% on Facebook and 12% on Twitter. Additionally, this group holds their own on LinkedIn at 30% usage (the Millennials’ 23%), showing they are interested in business connections. However, year after year, we have learned that more and more baby boomers and Gen Xer’s are embracing the use of social media, especially Facebook and visual platforms like Pinterest.
In summary, social media is for all ages now. Facebook still has the most users, but is trending towards the older crowds, while Instagram has experienced notable growth by all groups. In addition, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest are growing modestly across all age groups. While usage is most heavy as age decreases, the older groups are on the track to catch up with the biggest increases in usage year over year. Following this pattern, we can expect the rising ‘Generation Z’ to live lives even more saturated by social media or whatever the next thing is.