Facebook audiences are diversifying as the site expands globally. Founded in 2004, Facebook has become the largest social networking site in the world. It has reached more than 500 million active users, and 50 percent of these users log in daily. It is translated into 70 languages, with 70 percent of users living outside of the United States, according to Facebook statistics.
With these statistics, it is apparent that Facebook has gone global. It has become a powerful marketing tool for businesses and public relations practitioners, who are now able to reach an audience that would have been nearly impossible six years ago. So who is this audience?
As will be depicted in the new movie based on the creation of Facebook, “The Social Network,” when the site first began it was geared toward college students. In fact, in order to sign up, one had to have a .edu email address. That requirement changed in 2007 when it opened up to everyone. Since then, the user rate has steadily grown to include people of every race, gender and age.
It was only a matter of time before baby boomers caught on to the trend and set up their own accounts. According to a Mashable article, a study conducted between April 2009 and May 2010 found the Facebook audience “grew 88 percent among internet users aged 55-64” with usage among users 65 and older growing 100 percent. This study found that young users still dominate the site, but their numbers are growing at a much slower rate, only 13 percent. Will baby boomers and beyond end up dominating the site one day?
I’m sure college-age students are more than aware of the presence of their parents, aunts, uncles and even grandparents on the social networking site. In fact, I was shocked one day when I logged in and saw a friend request from my 80-year-old grandmother. With hesitation, I added her. My hang-up with this (as is with most other young people) is now I have to be careful with what I post. But the simple fact is: we should be careful with what we post anyway. Many potential employers now look to Facebook to see what applicants are posting. It’s not a forum to air all your dirty laundry, and it’s not a forum restricted to your friends anymore. Facebook is global, and 500 million people potentially have the ability to look at your information (check your privacy settings).
Public relations and marketing professionals have latched on to the social media phenomenon that is sweeping the world. Although many young people feel a little annoyed by the presence of the baby boomer generation, in the field of public relations it is beneficial. Opening up social media to an audience of all ages can have a tremendous impact on how people can be reached. With more and more people getting their purchasing and event information from social media sites, a whole new market can be tapped. So young users (especially those entering into the public relations field) should embrace the presence of the older generations.
So how about you? How many of your older relatives are on Facebook, and are you bothered by this? Why or why not?