Which age ranges are the most prolific users of social networks?

We’re all fond of a good stat in the worlds of social and communications, so when a stat conversation breaks out about demographics on some of the leading social networks, you’re bound to get a whole range of different answers to the same question.

Earlier today, i was discussing the question that forms the title of this post: Which age ranges are the most prolific users of social networks? More specifically we were talking about Twitter and Facebook, and the assertion that the most prolific users of social networks are pushing towards the 35 and over age range. I spoke to a number of different people and each had a slightly different take on what the basic make up of age ranges would be. Each also had the stats to back up their argument, so which should we believe?

First off, we have to take into consideration where the stats come from, both in terms of a reliable source and the geographic region the stats are sourced from. Most stats are skewed towards U.S users, so if we are considering UK-specific or European users we have to dig a little deeper.

This is all fairly obvious stuff, but it’s worth pointing out because of the many sources that i’ve looked at today, the vast majority, even when they say they use the same sources, come up with separate answers.

Therefore, i thought it might be helpful to reference a few of the stats that i’ve uncovered and the differences between them.

In terms of infographics, these versions from Kiss Metrics and Digital Surgeons are easy to understand at a glance, and use reputable sources, but in terms of age ranges for Facebook there is quite a difference.

The infographic from Kiss Metrics shows a clear rundown of demographics, this was posted last month using Google Ad Planner and Twitter sources, among others:

Facebook – 57% – 35 or older
Twitter – 56% – 35 or older

Here’s the Digital Surgeons infographic using a range of Google and Facebook sources:

Facebook – 37% – 35 or older
Twitter - 53% – 35 or older

As for European research, the latest data from ComScore is a good guide, and the 2010 Europe Digital Year in Review, launched last month, is an excellent resource. See the overview here and below

ComScore say: “The profile of social networking users in Europe reveals an audience that generally skews younger, with 15-24 year olds representing 25.3 percent of users, followed closely by 25-34 year olds at 24.3 percent. While the breakdown of European visitors to Facebook and Twitter mirrors that of social networking site users in general, LinkedIn has an older age profile. Only 10.4 percent of its visitors are under 25 years old, while half of the site’s audience is between the ages of 35-54. This older age profile is understandable given the site’s orientation toward professional networking.”

Breaking down the figures for Twitter and Facebook in Europe, ComScore say:

Facebook
15 – 24: 27.1%
25 – 34: 24.6%
35 – 44: 20.4%
45 – 54: 15.6%
55+: 12.4%

Twitter
15 – 24: 28.1%
25 – 34: 22.5%
35 – 44: 19.9%
45 – 54: 15.9%
55+: 13.5%

So you could say the largest segment is 15-24 years old, but equally more than 60% of users are over 25; or about half of all social users are 35 or older. More specifically:

Facebook – 48.4% 35 or older
Twitter – 49.3% 35 or older

So, yes, most of the stats agree, social network users are older than many might expect, but it’s not quite fair to say the younger age ranges are disappearing. We should also be aware that the degree to which the age range is present depends on geographic location, and the source.


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