Social Media Use Among Teens, Boomers and Moms: New Studies Reveal Great Insight

social media research

Relationship building via social media marketing is not a one-size-fits all endeavor. Moms, teens and Baby Boomers are three big social media subgroups groups that are unique.

Just like with traditional marketing, the more you know your audience, the more successful you will be at grabbing their attention and keeping it.

In terms of marketing opportunities, recent online buzz shows teens, Boomers and moms as three of the most desirable social networking groups.  They are active on these sites and their behaviors have been studied closely.

Each group is unique, and the secret to success is understanding where they are spending their time and how they are using the social sites to engage and connect.

According to The Nielsen Company, global consumers spent more than 5.5 hours on social networking sites in December 2009.  In December 2008, users were only spending about 3 hours on the same sites.  That’s an increase of 82% in just one year.

Along with the data on overall social media usage, current studies have come out that focus on three major demographics.  Here’s insight into the social media usage of teens, Boomers and moms.

Teens Blog Less, but Use Social Media More (Pew Research Center)

Recent surveys from Pew provide insight on social media usage among teens and young adults.  The 37-page report highlights the attitudes and behaviors of people 18 to 29 years old (Millennial generation).

Here’s a snapshot of some of the key findings:

Social Networking: As can be expected, online social activity is highest for teens and young adults. The data shows that nearly 72% of young adults and teens use social networking sites, compared to 40% of adults 30 and older. This is expected as younger people tend to be digitally savvy and socially connected online.

Social Sites: The sites teens and young adults are spending time on differ from those of adults. The younger audiences are much more inclined to use MySpace (66% of young profile owners have an account, compared to 36% of adults).  The same younger group is much less likely to have a LinkedIn profile, with only 7% participating in this career-oriented site, compared to 19% of adults. Most interesting are the similarities in Facebook activity among the groups. 71% of the younger generation actively maintain a Facebook profile and 75% of the older generation maintain one as well. Once again, Facebook always seems to come out above the rest in terms of social media adoption and engagement.

Blogging: 14% of teens say they blog, compared to 28% in 2006. Fifty-two percent of teen social network users report commenting on friends’ blogs, down from the 76% who did in 2006. Pew offers one explanation, “As the tools and technology embedded in social networking sites change and use of the sites continue to grow, youth may be exchanging macro-blogging for microblogging.”

Twitter: Twitter is a unique exception to most of the other data on teens and adults. The data points out that teens have not been drawn to Twitter as they have to Facebook and MySpace.  This is the one area that teens do not dominate usage over adults. Ten percent of online teens ages 14-17 and only 5% of those ages 12-13 use the tool.  Here’s another interesting stat: 13% of high school girls and only 7% of boys the same age use Twitter.

This report is extensive and offers insight into many more areas of online activity.  It’s definitely worth the read.

Baby Boomers Take on Social Networking (eMarketer)

A recent report by eMarketer looked at the social network usage of multiple generations.  They broke up the generations as follows: Millennials (14-26), Generation X (27-43), Boomers (44-62), and Matures (63-75).

Some of the most interesting data focused on Baby Boomers and their major jump in social media activity from just 2008 to 2009.

Forty-six percent of Boomer respondents said they maintained a social network profile (compared to 30% in 2007, according to a recent Deloitte study).

Here’s the breakdown on 3 popular social sites:


  • Baby Boomers using Facebook increased 107% from 2008 to 2009
  • 73% of Boomers maintain a Facebook profile
  • 90% of Matures maintain a Facebook profile  (That number comes as a surprise considering it was the highest of all generations.)


  • Twitter usage jumped 714% from 2008 to 2009
  • 13% of Boomers maintain a Twitter account
  • 17% of Matures maintain a Twitter account (again, higher than the Boomers!)


  • 13% of Boomers
  • 4% of Matures

“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,” said Lisa E. Phillips, eMarketer senior analyst. “To fulfill these expectations, Boomers are turning to social media, where they keep up their offline social connections and make new ones. Online marketing messages that help them build on their connections—and foster other online relationships—will get their interest.”

Tech-Savvy Moms Increase Social Media Use by 462% and Favor Facebook Most


According to a study by BabyCenter, LLC, the number of moms who use social media regularly has jumped 462% since 2006.  In addition, 44% use social media for word-of-mouth recommendations on brands and products and 73% feel they find trustworthy information about products and services through niche online communities (parenting, groceries, family, etc.).

In addition, data from lucid marketing and Lisa Finn found a whopping 96.3% of the moms surveyed said they used Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family while only 10.4% said they focused on checking out companies or products while on social networking sites. The good news was that moms were more receptive to marketing in general, a big plus for companies marketing in this space.

Here are some facts to keep in mind when marketing to moms on Facebook:

  • 75% are Facebook fans of at least one company or brand
  • 16% of mom Facebook users followed more than 10 companies’ fan pages
  • 59.9% of moms feel neutral about Facebook ads, while 36% actively dislike them
  • Their favorite pages focus on parenting info, and pages focused on coupons, restaurants, groceries and entertainment (kid-oriented entertainment being the most popular).

“Facebook is fertile ground for marketers to engage mothers and drive sales, but it needs to be done on their terms,” said Kevin Burke, president of lucid marketing, in a statement. “They have no time for brands that don’t ‘get it,’ but they do embrace brands that play by their rules.”

Now it’s your turn!

Do you market specifically to any of these three groups online?  If so, does the data support your experiences or is it missing something? What other groups do you think marketers should start paying more attention to in the near future?  I’d like to hear from you.  Please comment below.

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