Hope I get connected with my friends before I get old

Matt Thornhill writes on MediaPost this week that the fuss over the over-45s embracing social networking doesn’t stand up to statistical scrutiny.

He writes that “No doubt, Facebook’s growth among adults ages 45+ seems impressive — an increase of about 900,000 users in September alone (76% of whom are women). But Facebook also added over 1.7 million 18-34 years in same month (62% women), more than twice as many.”

He subscribes to Stanford psychologist Laura Carstensen’s hypothesis that “our motivations change as we grow older. When people are young, they perceive their future as open-ended, so they tend to focus on future-oriented/knowledge-related goals. When they grow older, gradually, over time, they feel that time is running out, so their focus tends to shift towards present-oriented/emotion-related goals.

“In other words, with the clock ticking, we don’t want to waste time with relationships that won’t feed us emotionally.”

I agree with his point about the lack of interest in boomer-specific social networks, but I think if he looked deeper and compared the numbers to the percentage of people in that age group who use computers and the Internet compared to the 18-34 crowd, he’d find that the numbers are more impressive. Anecdotally, I know an enormous and growing number of over-45s joining Facebook.


Content trumps transactions

Hitwise has released a report based on UK web traffic showing that content-driven websites receive 73% more traffic than transaction-based ones.

Hitwise data over a three-year period shows that entertainment and social networking sites have significantly increased their share of visitors, while shopping, classifieds and travel sites have lost market share.

Overall, transactional websites accounted for 5% more visits than content sites in July 2006, but since then content has grown steadily to now account for 73% more visits than transactional sites.


Hitwise’s Robin Goad writes: “This data chimes nicely with the findings of the latest Ofcom Communications Market Report. It concluded that the communications market has not been particularly harmed by the recession, and that ‘the internet and TV is regarded as a higher priority than almost anything except food.’ Hitwise would agree with this analysis but, although people are using the Internet more than ever, the way they use it and the sites they visit is constantly changing. In particular, the above charts show that just because people are using the web more, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are spending more money online.”