Baby boomers embrace social networking

Ronny Kerr · January 28, 2010 · Short URL:

People aged 44 and up turn to social networking, especially Facebook, in droves in 2009

We may now better understand how social sites like Facebook and Twitter grew so blisteringly fast last year: baby boomers finally decided they wanted to network too.

The latest report from eMarketer, entitled Boomers and Social Media, takes a close look at usage of social networking sites across multiple generations: MillenTable 1ials (aged 14-26), Generation X (27-43), Boomers (44-62), and Matures (63-75). While the report shows that Millenials and Generation X users have maintained their social media profiles at consistently high levels over the past three years, the number of Boomers and Matures who actively maintain their profiles saw massive growth in 2009.

Whereas only 31% of Boomers and 14% of MatuTable 2res actively tended their networks in 2008, those percentages had jumped to 46% and 36%, respectively, in 2009.

As expected, Facebook is the primary social network used by boomers, according to data from both comScore and Anderson analytics. After Facebook comes MySpace, which appears to be more popular with younger users. After those two come Twitter and LinkedIn.

"Creating and renewing personal connections online is the biggest draw for these boomers," said Lisa E. Phillips, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, Boomers and Social Media. "Boomers expect that technology will help them live longer and better lives and keep them connected to family, friends, co-workers and, eventually, healthcare providers."

I can personally attest to the fact that the hope for maintaining connections draws boomers. It seems like at least once a month my mom tells me about how she has reconnected with a long lost friend from her small hometown in Nicaragua or from her high school days in Indiana, all thanks to the power of social networking.

When it comes to social media sites, usage has something of a snowball effect on the site. The more people using one site, the more likely that others will use that site because it will be likelier to have more of their friends and family registered there.

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Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests. 

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Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.

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Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes. 

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