Facebook's identity crisis: too many old people

The elder demographic saw 513.7 percent growth since January, reaching almost 5.9 million users compared to roughly 7 million users under 17

In some parental circles, it's known that the best way to pull teenagers from a particular hobby is to participate. Likewise, no teen in his or her right mind would be caught dead hanging out with Mom and Dad. But can parents and teens share the same social network? Facebook is about to find out.

New data from Facebook's own information for advertisers, compiled by iStrategyLabs, shows that the 55 and older crowd is poised to overtake high schoolers and younger on Facebook (click image at left to enlarge). Maybe this phenomenon explains why Facebook is passing its prime as the preeminent social network.

The elder demographic saw 513.7 percent growth since January, reaching almost 5.9 million users compared to roughly 7 million users under 17. Additionally, 35 to 54 year-olds now comprise the largest demographic on the site, growing 190.2 percent over the last half year to reach more than 20 million users.

The prized advertising demographic of 18-24 year-olds ruled Facebook in January, but now they're outnumbered by each of the two age groups above them. That puts a damper on Facebook's 70.8 percent overall growth, which looks good on its face but doesn't bode well for advertising.

People inevitably age. High school students become college students, who in turn graduate and move up to the next demographic. But it gets worse for Facebook: In terms of education levels, high school and college students account for the largest drop in users, at 16.5 percent and 21.7 percent, respectively. Alumni are abandoning ship as well, to the tune of 15.9 percent since January.

Personally, I don't agree with our own Hillary Rhodes that Facebook veterans are "defecting" to Twitter. Sure, the latter site has seen explosive growth, and Facebook certainly acts jealous with its constant status update tweaking, but don't forget that most Twitter users drift away.

My sense is that the same thing could be happening to Facebook, but over a much longer period of time. Once users have explored all the site's features, of which there are many more compared to Twitter, they slowly pull away from the service. If this is happening now with younger users, it's only a matter of time before the older crowd follows.

Like a song that migrates from pop to adult contemporary radio, Facebook's just not as cool anymore.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Facebooksocial networking

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?