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Facebook Grows Older and Older
By: Jeff Louis
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Older_GenerationsIt's not news to most that social networking is growing up. In fact, the strongest-growing demographic for social media is adults between the ages of 50 and 64. Use by adults in this age group grew 88 percent, according to a Pew Research study, and adults 64 and older grew 100 percent. In comparison, the increase for users between the ages of 18 and 29 increased by 13 percent over the same period from April 2009 to May 2010.

Despite the fact that social media's early adopters are college-age students and young professionals, advertisers realize that older adults set on a career path tend to have more disposable income. Interestingly, PCWorld points out that Facebook seems to ignore the fact that older consumers are their strongest growth area. 

To implement a Facebook ad,  click "Create an Ad" on your home page. A series of steps allows the advertiser to select the title for their ad or campaign and the destination URL where they want their audience to go. Advertisers then can choose age groups and target their ads geographically and behaviorally. Thus, if an advertiser looks to promote a boat, they could choose their geographic region, like the Great Lakes, and target their advertising by showing ads to Facebook users who list fishing, boating, and hunting as leisure activities.

The problem is that for adults age 64 and older, there isn't a way to choose this demographic. (Actually, the method to reach the 64-and-older audience is to click "Any," in essence targeting every demographic on the site.)

As Facebook's forges ahead as the top social media site, Mark Zuckerberg and crew are going to have to decide on the direction, and future, for the site. As older Americans use Facebook, its original core audience -- college students, recent grads, and high school students -- are searching for other networks where their family members aren't able to view their lives with scrutiny.  After all, how does someone block his or her mother without repercussions?

Keg StandOne new site caters specifcally to college students. CollegeOnly keeps the prying eyes of parents and potential future employers away from a student's activity. Princeton graduate Josh Weinstein founded the site and proclaims he wants to rekindle Facebook's former "awesomeness." Once again, college coeds can their post images of last weekend's party without fear of repercussion -- for the most part, anyway.(What happens on the Internet stays on the Internet.) The site only allows for students with valid college e-mail addresses to join.

While Facebook ages, it will be interesting to see if the site can use some of its privacy tools to combat the flight of younger users. With the way privacy tools are currently set, parents and employers still can navigate to find embarrassing pictures of their son, daughter, or employee. All they have to do is find one of their friends who's neglected to restrict his or her privacy settings, and there's "little Johnny" in his underwear performing a keg stand. 

On the other hand, by losing the younger audience and catering to those with money, Facebook's future seems more lucrative. My guess? Facebook will follow the money.


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About the Author

Jeff Louis: Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. Please leave a comment or get in touch with Jeff on Twitter. As always, thank you for reading!

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